Posts By Bob Toth
Without getting into another attendance-related debate that will make most readers want to puke, it is important to note that the Cleveland Indians are still in the middle of a playoff race.
The Indians (74-65) took two of three in a key series with the Baltimore Orioles at the beginning of the week to do damage against some of their chief competition for one of the two American League Wild Card spots available.
Cleveland trails the second Wild Card team, the Tampa Bay Rays, by three games. They are tied with the Orioles in that spot and trail the New York Yankees by one-half game. The final stretch of the season for the Indians is perceived to be easier than those of their opponents. The Orioles play the Yankees and Rays four times each and the Red Sox for six. The Yankees play six with Boston, four with Baltimore, and three with Tampa. The Rays, by comparison, play three games with Boston and New York and four with Texas and Baltimore.
Well that certainly didn’t go as planned.
The Indians (72-64) return home to wrap up their final stretch of difficult baseball this season after dropping five of six to the National League East leading Atlanta Braves and the American League Central front-running Detroit Tigers. Starting pitching was spectacular and kept the Indians in almost every game, but the non-existent offense scored 14 runs in the six games, with nine of them coming in the final two days.
The Orioles (72-63) come to Cleveland for their first and only trip this season. Similarly to the Indians, they have their eyes locked on the Wild Card race, as they enter the series eight and a half games out in the AL East. They trail the Tampa Bay Rays by three games for the second Wild Card spot, maintaining a half-game lead over both Cleveland and the New York Yankees.
Prior to Saturday’s disastrous loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, Indians manager Terry Francona announced a slew of callups for the next several days that will, at nothing else, provide Cleveland with some relief for their heavily overworked team.
The most pressing need for the Major League club appeared evident to most, as the offensive effort has been absolutely horrendous.
So, of course, ten players will be added to the active roster, including two position players and eight bullpen arms.
Mother Nature intervened on Friday night, ending the matchup between Cleveland and Detroit at Comerica Park after seven innings, with the Tigers on the winning end of a 7-2 final over the Indians.
The loss by the Indians (71-63) extends their losing streak to four straight games to start their most important road trip of the season. Cleveland falls seven and a half games behind Detroit in the American League Central Division and is now four and a half games out in the Wild Card race. The Tigers (79-56) now own a commanding 14-3 record against them this season.
With so much at stake, three separate innings cost the Cleveland Indians an opportunity to gain ground in both the American League Central Division race and in the AL Wild Card picture.
The Indians (71-62) were swept out of Atlanta to begin a tough six-game road stretch against the Braves and the Detroit Tigers. They will need to sweep a Tigers team to come back home even, which is no easy feat, seeing as they have a 3-13 record against their Central Division foe while being outscored 103-59.
The Tigers (78-56) did not take advantage of the Indians’ tough matchup, as they dropped two of three to the Oakland Athletics. They still hold a six and a half game lead in the AL Central and have the third-best record in the American League.
Hopes for October are on the line for the Cleveland Indians this week as they head to Atlanta for the start of a difficult six-game road trip, beginning with three games with the Braves.
Atlanta (78-52) has come back down to earth over the last couple of weeks after ripping off 14 straight wins beginning in the final week of July. They have endured several injuries to key players on the roster, including pitcher Tim Hudson, second baseman Dan Uggla, and outfielder Jason Heyward. Despite the injuries, their playoff birth out of the National League East is all but assured, as they host the Indians with a 13-game lead over the second-place Washington Nationals. They own the best home record in all of baseball at 44-18.
Cleveland (71-59) remains in the mix in both the American League Wild Card and the AL Central races. When the series begins Tuesday evening, the Indians will be two games in back of the Athletics in the wild card and five and a half games behind the Tigers in the division.
Saturday’s offensive outburst notwithstanding, the Cleveland Indians’ bats had been rather quiet of late. It did not matter who the opponent or where the location – the Indians did not seem to pack their good lumber.
The pitching staff continued to pick up the offense during their just-completed nine-game road trip through Minnesota, Oakland, and Anaheim. Just twice on the trip did the arms surrender more than four runs in a game. The offense provided 4.22 runs of support and the Indians were a not-surprising 1-3 in games when they scored three or fewer runs.
While the Indians may have curtailed their road woes with the successful 6-3 trip, they returned home to Cleveland and continued to display some suspect baseball on the shores of Lake Erie. If the Indians have any serious hopes of playing baseball in October, they will have to return to their winning ways at home and may need to receive all of the offense they can muster to do it.
The Cleveland Indians are still very much in the mix for the postseason.
A three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim helped to trim the gap for the Indians (69-58) to five games in the American League Central and to just two and a half games in the AL Wild Card picture behind the Oakland A’s.
The Twins (56-70) have struggled this season mightily, but did a big favor to the Indians’ postseason hopes during the week, taking two of three from the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The return to the win column came after they dropped six of seven in the previous week.
The Cleveland offense did not provide Justin Masterson with a lot of support, but the Indians scored just enough for their ace to hold off Los Angeles and complete the three-game sweep of the Angels, securing a 3-1 victory on Wednesday night.
It was their first sweep in Anaheim since the 1999 season. They return home after finishing off a 6-3 road trip.
While some people have written off the 2013 Cleveland Indians as a faux playoff team, they still have 38 games remaining to prove to the baseball world otherwise.
The Indians (66-58), if you have not noticed, are in the middle of a roller coaster year. Fans jump on and off the bandwagon with reckless abandon. A three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels should do little to quell that activity by the impatient fan base. Cleveland is 7-8 on the road since the All-Star break, including 3-3 on this current trip.
The Angels (55-68) will host Cleveland for their only trip to Anaheim this season. The Indians have done well against the American League West as a whole (18-8), but the Angels bested them in Cleveland earlier in the month, taking two of three to wrap up a 1-6 homestand for the Indians.
Much has been said, especially over the last few weeks, about the struggles on the field, both offensively and defensively, of the members of the Cleveland Indians lineup. Slumps are becoming far more evident, errors have been a significant issue throughout the second half, and some players simply look tired.
Welcome to the dog days of summer.
After a much needed day off on Thursday, the Cleveland Indians will resume their road trip with a weekend stay in Oakland against the Athletics.
The Indians (65-56) have been able to keep pace in the playoff race, despite offensive woes that have adversely affected the outcome of many second half games. Entering play on Friday, the Indians were three and a half games out of the wild card race and six and a half back in the American League Central behind the Detroit Tigers. They are a perfect 4-0 against Oakland this season, sweeping a four-game set in Cleveland earlier in the year.
In the last week, the Athletics (68-52) lost their long lead in the American League West to the Texas Rangers. They have won just five of their last 14 games and, with the exception of 14 runs in Toronto on August 9th, have struggled to score runs. They trail the Rangers by a game and a half in the division, but are currently the second wild card team.