Indians at Home on the Road; Travel to Baltimore This Weekend
The Indians make their way to Baltimore this weekend to start a three game series with the Orioles. From what we’ve seen of the Tribe so far this season, expect them to be at their best. Playing on the road has been the best medicine for a team that has struggled to find a foothold as the calendar prepares to flip from June to July.
In 33 road contests, the Indians have posted a record of 18-15 and looked every bit like the team many thought we would see in 2015. Compared with their current home record of 15-23, the Indians looks like the definition of road warriors. But why is that? Why do they continue to play above .500 baseball on the road while struggling mightily on the road?
Jun 25, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (32) hits a two run homer during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The two best reasons I can come up with are either dumb luck or the weight of expectations weighing them down. Expected to be a title contender, the Indians just can’t get their act together within the friendly confines of Progressive Field. This seems a bit odd considering the Indians are once again among with worst draws in baseball from an attendance stand point. Who are they worried about disappointing, the sea gulls?
I kid, but the fact of the matter is that for a team to be successful, they need to play well at home and manage to go at least .500 on the road. For the Indians, the lack of home success has contributed to the hole they currently find themselves in. Fixing that one problem won’t be the magic cure-all, but it would be a good start. They enter tonight’s game 4-6 in their last 10 and 9 games back in the division race.
Meanwhile, the Orioles find themselves in a great spot heading into July. At 38-34, they sit in prime position to make a run for the AL East division, just two games back of the Rays. This is despite the lackluster performance of their pitching staff, as I outlined a few weeks ago, and the abundance of injuries that have hit them hard. They started the year without Matt Wieters and now have been without all-star Adam Jones for about a week with a bum shoulder. However, Chris Davis and Manny Machado have done everything they can to pick up the slack, combining for 29 homers and 82 RBI between them. Not too shabby.
If the Indians want to achieve any level of success this weekend, they’ll need to stop those two studs from inflicting damage. Unfortunately, limiting the impact of super-star talents is not necessarily their best quality *cough* Miguel Cabrera *cough*. The Indians pitchers will need to avoid making mistakes to the two best hitters in the lineup and force the surrounding pieces to beat them, i.e. Jimmy Paredes, Steve Pearce, J.J. Hardy, etc.
If not, this could be a long weekend for the Tribe. This is an Orioles team that is playing very well right now as they have won seven out of their last 10 games. A few weeks ago they were toiling away near the bottom of the AL East standings, but now? Now they look like the contender many people thought they could be when the season started. Talent usually rises to the top and the Orioles have a lot of it. That’s something the Indians and their fans should take solace in. The Indians also have talent, maybe even more than the Orioles. THey just need it to start living up to the hype.