Thome, Lajoie lead Tribe to Dream Bracket win

April 20th, 2020

A world has been created with the MLB Dream Bracket where players like Francisco Lindor, Nap Lajoie, Jim Thome and Bob Feller can all be teammates. And, as it turns out, it worked out quite well in the Indians' favor.

The MLB Dream Bracket is a 32-team best-of-seven simulation featuring all-time teams for each of the 30 current Major League franchises, as well as teams consisting of Negro Leagues Stars and 25 & Under Stars. The 26-man rosters for each of the teams, compiled by the beat reporters, consist of 15 hitters and 11 pitchers. For the simulation, players are rated using the average of their three best seasons on a single team. Rosters were constructed with balanced depth to specifically compete in a simulated regulation game.

The Indians drew the Negro League All-Stars in their first round and Lajoie led the way, hitting .548 with a 1.434 OPS, two homers and six RBIs through the seven games. Travis Hafner’s three home runs and 10 RBIs paced the Tribe, Victor Martinez knocked eight runs in and hit .308 in the series, while Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez each logged seven RBIs. Of all first-round games, Thome’s 4-for-5 effort with three runs scored and three RBIs in Game 6 ranked as the fourth-best game performance across the league.

The series victory means the Indians advance to play the Yankees in the second round of the MLB Dream Bracket. The Yanks defeated the Mariners in six games in their first matchup. But before we start looking ahead, let’s take a deeper look at how the Indians defeated the Negro League All-Stars:

Game 1: Indians 3, Negro League 2
In the matchup of Feller against Satchel Paige, Feller came out on top. The Indians were able to get three runs off Paige through 5 2/3 frames on a solo homer by in the third and a two-run shot by Hafner in the fourth. Feller went seven strong innings, allowing two runs on solo shots by Cool Papa Bell and Buck Leonard. Andrew Miller picked up his first save, allowing one hit and fanning a batter in the ninth.

Game 2: Negro League 7, Indians 3
It wasn’t the strongest of showings from Tribe starter Corey Kluber, and his offense wasn’t able to pick him up. Kluber allowed five runs on seven hits through just 3 2/3 innings, including a 427-foot bomb by Ray Danridge in the second, a two-run homer by Josh Gibson in the third and another solo shot by Danridge in the fourth that knocked Kluber out of the game. Rosen’s bat stayed hot by picking up two doubles, but the offense was held to just five total hits against Leon Day and Hilton Smith.

Game 3: Negro League 10, Indians 1
The Indians’ bats were shut down by right-hander Joe Williams, who allowed just one run on six hits through 8 1/3 innings. Outside of Lajoie’s 3-for-4 effort and Belle’s two hits, the Tribe offense was nearly silenced. Righty Early Wynn tried to keep the Tribe in contention through the first four innings, but he got rocked in the fifth, allowing an RBI single to Gibson and a grand slam to Mule Suttles. Bob Lemon gave up four more runs in the next 1 2/3 frames, and the Indians could not climb out of their nine-run deficit.

Game 4: Indians 9, Negro League 3
What better way to turn the momentum back in your favor than a leadoff homer? Lajoie blasted the second pitch of the game off lefty John Donaldson to give the Tribe a quick 1-0 lead. An RBI double by Lou Boudreau, a Belle RBI single, a three-run homer by Martinez and an RBI double by Ramirez put the Tribe on top, 9-1, through eight frames. Sam McDowell gave up just one unearned run on four hits through seven innings and Gaylord Perry permitted two in 1 2/3 innings.

Game 5: Negro League 5, Indians 4
The Negro League All-Stars jumped out to a 4-0 lead through four innings on a two-run homer by Gibson, a fielder’s choice and a Cool Papa Bell sacrifice fly. The Tribe countered with three runs in the top of the fifth on a Hafner two-run homer and an RBI single from Lajoie, but a solo shot from Suttles off Feller in the bottom half of the frame was enough to secure the win.

Game 6: Indians 19, Negro League 6
The Indians weren’t going down without a fight. With the series on the line, the Tribe put up 19 runs, including five against Negro League starter Day in just 2 2/3 innings. Lajoie collected three hits, including a homer and four RBIs, Ramirez went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and a long ball, Martinez knocked in three runs on two hits, Hafner collected four RBIs and Thome went 4-for-5 with three RBIs. The offensive outburst helped support Kluber, who gave up six runs through six innings.

Game 7: Indians 12, Negro League 3
Cleveland’s bats stayed hot when it mattered most. Despite the Negro League All-Stars taking a quick 2-0 lead off Wynn in the top of the first, the Indians responded with a Thome RBI single in the bottom half of the frame and a two-run homer by Hafner, an RBI double by Belle and a run-scoring single by Martinez in the third. The Indians' offense continued to pile on, as Wynn held the Negro League All-Stars to just those two runs through six frames and Lemon tossed three innings, allowing one unearned run in relief to advance the Tribe to the second round.