Swisher and Cabrera Swinging Tribe into Contention
Mike B. | On 16, Sep 2013
It looks like the Cleveland Indians are hitting their stride at exactly the right time.
The Indians completed a four game sweep of the Chicago White Sox Sunday evening to pull themselves to just a half game behind both the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays for a wild card spot. Winners of nine of their last 12 the Indians will open a three game series in Kansas City this evening, and if they win, they’ll move into a wild card spot since the Rangers and Rays play one another for the next four games.
With 13 games left on the schedule, it looks like it’s all coming together. The Tribe has an easy schedule in the last two weeks of the season and now controls their own destiny. If they win, they’ll get in. With the Rangers and Rays playing each other, someone in front of them has to lose.
This weekend Swisher had seven hits and five RBIs in the sweep over the White Sox, including three home runs. Since moving into the second spot in the Indians batting order he seems to have found a little better offensive prowess. Swisher hit three home runs this weekend, including two on Sunday to give him 20 on the season. It’s the ninth straight season he’s had 20 home runs or more. While his .244 batting average still is 10 points lower than his career average and his run production is lower than expected, he’s started to improve both in September and be more the player the Indians hoped they were signing last December.
Swisher has been hampered by a sore shoulder suffered early in the season. He’s never given a full indication how much it bothers him, but he has admitted that it has affected his play at times. He’s had to miss occasional games to rest his shoulder but has said he’s as healthy now as he has been all season.
Another player who has been slowed by an injury this season is Cabrera. The Indians shortstop and middle of the order hitter for much of the last three seasons injured his right quadriceps on June 3 and missed most of the month. Since then, his .227 batting average in July is his best month of the second half. He’s been moved down in the order with the hopes of less pressure and a chance to produce runs behind Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley.
Cabrera had four hits and six RBIs of his own this weekend, including three home runs. A hit in each game will not greatly spark his .235 batting average back to respectability, but he does seem to be finding his power stroke. Three of Cabrera’s four hits were home runs this weekend, including the three run homer in the sixth inning Sunday night against Chris Sale. It was the back breaker in the game.
This weekend Cabrera looked more patient at the plate and putting good swings on the baseball. He didn’t look like the over-anxious hitter looking to hit a five run homer that instead resulted in a bad swing that lead to a weak ground ball or pop up on the infield.
There’s signs both Cabrera and Swisher are coming back to be a part of the Indians lineup they thought they would have in March before the team left Goodyear, Arz. to start the season. When the Indians offense produces, the Tribe wins games in 2013. The starting pitching has produced for 149 games. It’s fair to expect them to show up for the last 13.
If the Indians offense, namely Swisher and Cabrera, show up like they did this weekend, they may swing their way right into October.
Photo: John Gress/Getty Images