The Cleveland Indians have to keep dominating the lowly teams in the division to have a shot at overtaking the Minnesota Twins.
The Cleveland Indians cannot afford to lose any more ground to the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central division.
This is still no time to panic. The sense of urgency just grows as September begins.
The Indians are 5-1 in their last six games. Those came against the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers, respectively. The Twins are also 5-1 after series against the Royals and the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians and Twins still do have six head-to-head games remaining this season. So technically the Indians could win all six and retake the lead that way. But we must remember the differences in schedules outside of those six games. Slipping up at all could cost the Indians any lead that is gained.
The second half of September is where things get interesting. The final Indians vs. Twins matchup is September 15. After that the schedules are as follows:
- September 17-19: Indians vs. Tigers
- September 20-22: Indians vs. Phillies
- September 24-26: Indians at White Sox
- September 27-29: Indians at Nationals
- September 16-18: Twins vs. White Sox
- September 19-22: Twins vs. Royals
- September 24-26: Twins at Tigers
- September 27-29: Twins at Royals
The Twins could realistically win every single game in those four series. I doubt it will end up happening but the rest of the AL Central is bottoming out and plenty of young, inexperienced players will be getting playing time.
The Indians get those cupcake series against the Tigers and then against the White Sox. The tough part is the fact the Phillies and the Nationals are thrown into the mix as well.
Both NL teams should still be fighting for playoff position when they take on the Indians. Meanwhile, the teams taking on the Twins will have all but given up on the 2019 season.
This makes winning against the bad teams that much more important for the Indians. Winning every single game is obviously the goal. But a loss or two against the Tigers or Royals could doom the Indians if they are still trailing the Twins with two weeks to go.
I am always the one to avoid panicking after a frustrating loss to a bad team. That will change in September if the Indians drop two of three to a bottom-feeder team.
This most recent sweep of the Tigers needs to become the norm in September. Or else the Indians could miss out on October baseball. Then fall would be ruined.