A battle for second place in the American League Central will take place at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario Streets this week as the Cleveland Indians welcome the red-hot rival Royals of Kansas City into town for a three-game series.
The Royals (33-34) come into town on a very good streak and trailing the Indians by just one-half game in the division. They have won all four series played entirely in the month of June and have an 11-4 record for the month. They have put together winning streaks of six and three games in the last two weeks.
The Indians (34-34) have now won back-to-back series for the first time since early May, taking series against two high quality opponents, the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals. Cleveland owns a 305-290 advantage in matchups with Kansas City all-time, dating back to the Royals’ inception in 1969.
The Indians wake up this morning at 34-34, experiencing a roller coaster ride that would make most Cedar Point goers blush on the journey that they have traveled.
By definition, the Indians are what make a .500 team. They have inconsistent starting pitching, inconsistent offense—and suddenly an inconsistent bullpen. Most .500 teams are inconsistent, some days looking like a contender while other times looking like a team headed for the cellar.
To say the trade the Cleveland Indians made for starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, nearly two years ago, has worked out well for the Tribe would be quite the overstatement. These days, it would also be an overstatement to call the deal a horrible move.
Just about a year ago, a horrible move is what most Tribe fans were calling the July 30, 2011 acquisition. General manager Chris Antonetti traded promising young starters Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to the Rockies for a struggling, former National League All Star in Jimenez.
After finally breaking their eight game losing streak last night, the Indians hoped to keep they winning ways alive in the third game of their series against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night. Ending the game with a 5-2 win over the Rangers did just that.
A much-improved outing from Ubaldo Jimenez, combined with a decent showing from the bullpen, kept Texas from scoring often. The Indians offense, led by Jason Kipnis, who hit a triple short of the cycle tonight, seemed to be regaining their power from earlier in the season.
Maybe an unfamiliar foe will do the Cleveland Indians some good.
The Indians (30-32) have dropped eleven straight games on the road and seven straight overall. They begin a three-game series with the Texas Rangers on Monday evening after being swept in each of their last two series against New York and Detroit. They may welcome competition from the American League West – on the season, they are a combined 10-1 against western opponents. They are 6-17 against the AL East and 9-10 in the AL Central.
The Rangers (37-25) begin an eleven-game homestand with the Indians. They are 3-5 to start the month of June and 8-6 against the AL Central this season. They have a half-game lead over Oakland for the lead of the AL West and boast an 18-8 record at home on the year, the best record of any AL team at home this season.
Friday’s game marked the third time this season that Ubaldo Jimenez (4-1, 2.74) and Justin Verlander (7-4, 3.70) went head-to-head in the pitching matchup. Jimenez’s sole loss came when facing Verlander on May 22. Unfortunately, history repeated itself when the Tribe lost to the Tigers 7-5.
Coming off a season high eight-game losing streak on the road, the Tribe hoped to change their record with this game. Despite two solo home runs in the ninth inning, however, the Indians could not best the Tigers in their first of three games in Detroit.
A reeling Cleveland Indians squad continues a tough road trip as they head to Detroit to play three this weekend against the rival Tigers.
The Indians (30-29) have not played well at all since losing a two-game midweek series with the Tigers in late May. Since that sweep, they are 4-12 and have fallen out of first place. They had taken two of three earlier in the season in Detroit.
The Tigers (32-26) have enjoyed home cooking this season. They are 19-10 on the season at Comerica Park, the second-best winning percentage at home of American League teams. They have not been exempt from the struggles affecting the AL Central, as they have dropped six of ten and have failed to capitalize on the Indians slide to increase their distance in the division.
In baseball circles it is said you can get a good feel for what a team will be through 40 games. As the Cleveland Indians have proven the last couple years, there are exceptions to that rule. However, it is a generally a good stretch of games to see if a team will be good, bad or somewhere in between as the summer rolls along.
This season’s Indians are again putting the old theory to the test, though not like they have in years past. Both the 2011 and 2012 Tribe were in contention for a division title beyond the halfway points of each campaign. Both clubs crumbled in the second half with young teams wilting under pressure.
The 2013 squad was built with more veterans to better face the strains of expectations to contend. The 2013 squad, to this point, is in contention. As the season hits game No. 60 tonight, though, the identity and realistic expectations one should have are as unknown as they were on Opening Day.
The Cleveland Indians will wrap up their season series with the New York Yankees as they head to the Big Apple for three games this week, beginning Monday night.
The Indians (30-26) finished their brief five-game homestand against Cincinnati and Tampa Bay at 3-2. After sweeping the home half of a home-and-home series with the Reds, they dropped two of three to the Rays. Even though they have been playing through a tough stretch of games with several difficult losses, they remain just one-half game out of first place in the American League Central.
Since their doubleheader with the Indians on May 13th, the Yankees (31-25) have had difficulties on the field. They have won just two of their seven series since, losing two of three from Seattle, Baltimore, and Boston and being swept in four straight by the New York Mets. Their recent woes have dropped them to third in the AL East, three games behind the front-running Red Sox and a half-game behind the Orioles for second place and the Wild Card lead.
Ubaldo Jimenez is making it harder and harder to question that he has sorted out the pitching problems that plagued him through his first two years in a Cleveland Indians uniform.
Behind perhaps the best outing of his Indians career, Cleveland silenced the Tampa Bay offense and had some Saturday afternoon fireworks as they blanked the Rays, 5-0.
“There’s more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations.” –Jerry Seinfeld
The 2013 version of the Cleveland Indians is about as easy to read as the most difficult Shakespearian novel. They’ve taken us fans through peaks and valleys, exciting comebacks and painful blown opportunities. They are exactly who they are…a team that is nearly impossible to predict.
FEAST OR FAMINE
I think we had better all get used to this roller coaster that we are riding.
The Tribe started out the season by taking the first two in Toronto then dropped five of their next six. They seemed to turn it back around a little by taking two from the White Sox, but then proceeded to lose five in a row including getting swept by the Red Sox. Three wins followed and were immediately cancelled out by three more losses. The Tribe then got red hot, by taking 13 of the next 15, but then lost two in a row when the bats went silent. Another five game winning streak was great, but all momentum was lost because of the meltdowns in Boston and against Cincinnati.
Tampa Bay makes its lone trip to Cleveland this weekend, as the Indians host the Rays in a three-game series.
The Rays (29-24) come to town hot, winning their last five games. They salvaged the final game of their series with the New York Yankees on Sunday prior to sweeping the Miami Marlins in four straight games. They took two of three from the Indians in the first week of the season.
The Indians (29-24) swept the Reds in two games at Progressive Field, returning the favor after the Reds swept Cleveland in Cincinnati. The two wins extend the Indians winning streak against the Reds in Cleveland to nine games, the longest such home field advantage stretch between the two clubs in their histories against one another. The series win helped to end a five-game losing streak that the team’s bullpen struggled through. They continue to play through a tough stretch of the season schedule.