CLEVELAND -- Because of injuries, the Cleveland Indians had multiple lineup changes throughout the 2017 regular season, but whether it was a rising rookie outfielder or experienced infielders, everyone who stepped between the lines did what was in their power to help the team win.
There were several standout defensive plays throughout the year, and all of them added up to an American League-record 22-game winning streak, a franchise record for the most consecutive road victories and 102 wins, the second-best single-season total in Indians history.
Here is a look back at the Indians’ top defensive plays of 2017.
JULY 23: LINDOR BARE-HANDS GROUNDER
The Indians are no strangers to great defensive play at shortstop, not with former middle infielder Omar Vizquel being mentioned as a candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame after winning eight Gold Glove awards in Cleveland, but current starter Francisco Lindor is more than capable of turning a difficult play into a highlight-reel moment.
In the top of the first inning of an 8-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field, third baseman Josh Donaldson hit a short ground ball off of home plate that Lindor charged at full speed, fielded bare-handed, and then, in stride, threw down to first base for the out.
AUG. 1: JACKSON TURNS IN CATCH FOR THE AGES
With the Indians clinging to a 7-5 lead over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Hanley Ramirez hit a deep fly ball off of reliever Dan Otero that appeared headed for the bullpen for a home run, but somebody forgot to tell center fielder Austin Jackson.
Jackson tracked the ball well, timed his jump and secured the catch before flipping into the Boston bullpen. After getting to his feet, Jackson showed the ball to the umpire for the out, which right fielder Brandon Guyer celebrated with him as Otero raised both hands into the air in appreciation.
Flashing a wry smile on his way back to the dugout, Ramirez was seen on camera saying, “Whoa” while looking back toward Jackson in disbelief. The catch was so unbelievable that Jackson got an ovation from the Red Sox faithful as he climbed out of the Boston bullpen.
AUG. 4: GIOVANNY URSHELA THROWS HOME
In the top of the fifth inning of a 7-2 win over the New York Yankees, former Indians minor-league standout Clint Frazier hit a “Baltimore Chop” down the third-base line, but Cleveland infielder Giovanny Urshela flashed the leather and made a key defensive stop.
At full extension and ranging to his right, Urshela snagged the ball, and while in foul ground, made a jump throw and fired a strike to home plate, where catcher Roberto Perez placed down the tag and got the lead runner at home.
AUG. 25: LINDOR TURNS TWO
Lindor had a busy first inning in a 4-0 win against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field.
After committing a throwing error on the first batter of the game, Lindor cut down the lead runner with a throw to third base on a fielder’s choice, and then, pulled off a difficult defensive gem to end the inning.
On a soft grounder that got past Indians starter Ryan Merritt, Lindor dove for the ball close to the outfield grass after scrambling while playing in, corralled the grounder, flipped it with his glove to second baseman Jose Ramirez, and Ramirez turned the double play with a relay throw down to first.
AUG. 26: ZIMMER LAYS OUT FOR CATCH
Rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer made plenty of standout defensive plays in his first season with the Indians, but on Players’ Weekend, he came up with a catch to remember.
With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain smashed a line drive toward the gap off of Indians starter Mike Clevinger, but Zimmer tracked the ball the whole way, and with his back to home plate, made a diving over-the-shoulder catch that had teammates standing and applauding and the Royals shaking their heads in disbelief.
SEPT. 13: URSHELA COMES UP BIG IN TOP OF EIGHTH
Despite having to make multiple changes to the infield lineup because of injuries, those who have played for the Indians have done well, and that includes Urshela, who put his glove work on display in the top of the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers.
One batter after pitcher Bryan Shaw made an error that cost him an out, Tigers catcher John Hicks smashed a grounder toward the hole at shortstop, but Urshela dove to his left, corralled the ball and muscled a throw over to second base for the second out of the inning.
Then, Urshela backhanded a sharply hit grounder along the foul line and fired a throw over to first base for the final out of the inning.
Urshela’s defensive efforts helped preserve Cleveland’s 5-3 lead in what turned out to be the Indians’ 21st straight victory.
SEPT. 24: JACKSON TURNS DOUBLE PLAY
Behind a standout performance from starting pitcher Corey Kluber, an unconventional mid-game double play and timely hitting from the heart of the order, the Indians earned a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle in the final road game of the regular season.
Defensively, the Indians turned a 7-6-3 double play in the bottom of the fourth inning when first baseman Yonder Alonso flew out to Jackson in left field.
On a full sprint toward the warning track, Jackson tracked down the one-handed catch and fired a throw to Lindor in short left field. Then, Lindor relayed a throw of his own down to Edwin Encarnacion at first to double off third baseman Kyle Seager, who followed a double from Nelson Cruz with a walk earlier in the frame.
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