CANTON, Ohio- Why the Indians are already in a stretch that is crucial. And why Cleveland must play well against its own Central rivals.
The Cleveland Indians are almost at the midway point of August. They open a two-game series with Colorado in Cleveland. For the record, I hate two-game series, and I’m not a fan of interleague games this late in the season. I realize that there’s still a month and a half to go, but the Indians only have a three game lead over Kansas City in the Central and, at this rate, one game could decide if the Indians make the playoffs. I still feel Cleveland will make the playoffs, but unless they start to pull away by the end of this month, I’ll be on pins and needles. I don’t mind interleague play, but not this late in the year.
After the Rockies leave town Wednesday night, Cleveland will hit the road for a 10-game road trip that includes a four-game series at Tampa who, is currently tied with the Royals for the second and final wild card. Next, Cleveland travels to Minnesota to play the Twins. I know the Twins are 5.5 games back, but they’re a divisional opponent, and any amount of losses to them would keep the door open for Minnesota, and it would help out the Royals chances of taking back first place. Then, speaking of the Royals, the Indians go to Kansas City for a three-game series. If Cleveland stumbles in Minnesota, that could make for a crucial series against the Royals.
Cleveland then plays host to Boston, Kansas City and then heads to New York to battle the Yankees. September and the first day of October feature six series matchups against A.L. Central rivals. Cleveland will play Detroit six times, Chicago seven times, Kansas City four times and Minnesota three games. Seattle and the Angels are the out of division teams that Cleveland plays, both of which, are on the road. The Orioles likely won’t win the A.L. East at this point, but they are fighting for a wild card spot.
It’s extremely important that Cleveland does well within their own division the rest of the way.
Including the series with Colorado, Cleveland has 51 games remaining. They have 25 home games, 26 road games. Why do I bring this up? Cleveland opens up a 10-game series at home in the middle of September featuring Baltimore, Detroit and Kansas City. If you’re an Indians or Royals fan, you’ll be doing a lot of scoreboard watching from here on out.
Want another good point? Isn’t this the beauty of baseball? Aside from the A.L. West where Houston is running away with that division, the East and Central are still wide open. Both division leaders (Boston and Cleveland) only hold a 3 game lead.
How about the wild card race? You have seven teams who have a legitimate shot at still earning a wild card berth. New York has the first wild card, Kansas City and Tampa Bay are tied for the second and final wild card spot. After that, Seattle, Baltimore, Minnesota and the Angels all still in contention.
Needless to say, the final month and a half will be very interesting.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick broulis