The Cleveland Indians will look to get back on track against the Royals after a promising start to a New York road trip ended in disappointment.
There is a considerable amount of doom and gloom surrounding the Cleveland Indians after being swept at the hands of the Mets. The bats went alarmingly cold after an impressive weekend in the Bronx, and the Tribe scored just five runs in three games against New York’s NL franchise.
The back end of the bullpen suddenly looks more like a liability than a strength. Brad Hand blew his third consecutive save in the second game of the series, while his companions in the relief corps combined to give up five earned runs in the first one.
The Indians are now 3.5 games back of the Twins, and perhaps more alarmingly, would not even make the playoffs as a wild card team if the season ended today. With all of these admittedly disconcerting factors contributing to the somber mood in Tribe Town, it’s easy to lose perspective. So let me help with that.
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The month of August was supposed to be the toughest stretch of the Indians’ schedule, and it has proven to be. Since Game 1 of the Astros series, which began on July 30, the Indians are 12-11. Not ideal, but let’s look past the overall record and focus on how they arrived at it: a home sweep of the Angels, a 3-1 series victory over the Twins, a doubleheader sweep to earn a 2-1 series win over the Rangers, and a 2-2 series split with the Yankees who, by the way, had the best record in the American League when that series started.
Yes, the most recent midweek meetings with the Red Sox and Mets were disappointing, especially because the Tribe should have won two against Boston and one against the Mets.
But a 12-11 stretch against all three AL division leaders, the team playing the best baseball in the NL, and the defending World Series champions who are much better than their record? A 5-1 showing against the good-but-not-great Rangers and Angels? Without the top three pitchers from the Tribe’s Opening Day rotation?
I’m not exactly mailing it in after that.
The Indians were due for gravity to take hold of them at some point; their combined winning percentage in June and July was .700. You do that for 162 games and your record is 113-49. Of course they weren’t going to keep that up.
Now is the time to batten down the hatches and get back to playing winning baseball, yes. But it is far from the time to give up. Let’s leave the last three days where they belong, and focus on what’s in front of us: a familiar foe in the Kansas City Royals.