Series Preview: Kansas City Royals (84-70) vs. Cleveland Indians (81-74)

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Sep 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) hits a RBI double against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

It’s getting late early for the Cleveland Indians, but following a series win in Minnesota and the Detoit Tigers taking two of three in Kansas City, they are still alive for the yet another Most Critical Series of the Season. They’ve had about six the last month or so, so what’s one more? As TJ House said, they just have to punch it in the face and hope for a knockout. I’m not 100% clear where the face of a schedule is, but whatever.

What makes the series so special and critical is that right before Monday’s game the two teams have to finish the suspended 10-inning game from August 31st. That’s a game still hanging in the air and the Indians hold a two run lead. They’re four games back in the loss column from Kansas City meaning they could tie the Royals if they take that game and sweep the series proper. It’s a big deal. They’ll be the away team and will have to avoid letting the Royals walk off to the visitors clubhouse. I wonder what the crowd will be like – I can’t imagine people will be traveling en masse from Missouri/Kansas for half an inning. That’d be devotion though. I think it’d be cool if the Indians allowed you in for like a dollar, and donated the proceeds to charity. The “Sign a Huge Bat” charity.

Three full games will follow though, and hopefully the Jake is rocking. These games are what fans live for. The Tribe leads the season series 9-7 and as feckless as their offense has been, the Royals have been ticking towards dreadful all year. The addition of Josh Willingham did not have the desired effect. Their best offensive player, Alex Gordon, would rank fifth on the Indians in OPS+ at 116. He’s got a sense of timing, with 13 of his 19 homers this year either tying the game or giving the Royals the lead. Certainly not a dog piler, this one. I fully expect him to get a big hit at some point this week. Luckily if he ends up at the plate in the suspended game, it’s because they already won. Hope I didn’t jinx it.

The Royals are 10-9 in September – they’re certainly not trying their damndest to take the division despite all the work the Tigers did to hand it to them, prior to the Kitties coming into town and laying a beatdown on Friday night of course. Their pitching is top notch, their defense sterling, Gold even, it’s just that offense of theirs that refuses to tick. Billy Butler has 34 hits in his last 37 games, everyone who plays first base is a mess at the plate and their outfield has one and a half batters. I can’t lie though, they’re fun to watch if only because they’re so athletic. Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Nori Aoki, Mike Moustakas, these guys are young, skilled to a good degree and stupendous athletes, great when Ned Yost decides to sac bunt relentlessly. Of course, they roll Raul Ibanez out there, who has the physical capabilities of an Ibanez guitar at this point. Though in the right hands, those can make you cry, just like Raul’s defense. Zing.

There’s seven games left including the suspended contest. The Indians are 3.5 back of the second Wild Card, with two teams between them and the Royals that they have to leapfrog. The Athletics have a half-game lead on the Royals which, like so many other things, hinges on Monday afternoon. Margin for error is a term thrown around a lot, but we can’t here because there isn’t any. Really, they need to win out if they plan on doing things not golf-related in October. They certainly can, they can beat the Royals and the Rays end the season, but that’s why they play the game, isn’t it. In short, win Tribe win. It’s all they can do.