Cleveland Indians show life while hurting chances for the New York Yankees
At this point it’s safe to say that the 2021 season is basically over for the Cleveland Indians. Two weeks remain in the season with 15 games left to be played. The team is sitting 10 games out of the Wild Card and 11 back in the American League Central. However, even with a record of 73-74, Cleveland is finding a way to impact the playoff picture.
After falling to the Yankees by a score of 8-0 on Friday the Tribe could have easily curled up and rode out the weekend series. There isn’t much to play for from a team standpoint, but luckily the team continued to push. Despite the rough first game, Cleveland came out swinging the rest of the series, outscoring New York 22-4 thanks to a pair of 11-run offensive outbursts.
As I said, there wasn’t much for Cleveland to play for as a team. There are individual goals to achieve and roles to play for in the future, but the postseason is out of reach. However, it isn’t out of reach for New York and Cleveland’s two-day surge could play a huge role in the playoff picture for the American League.
The Wild Card race is becoming very tight down the stretch. With the weekend’s slate of games behind us, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are clinging to the two slots. Trailing closely are the New York Yankees at 1.5 games back, the Oakland Athletics who are a pair back and the Seattle Mariners who are four back.
Toronto saw the same results as Cleveland over the weekend, losing on Friday before winning on Saturday and Sunday. So while Friday saw New York gain a game, Saturday and Sunday allowed Toronto to gain ground and then pass the Yankees in the standings. Maybe our old friend Mark Shapiro will remember that in future trade negotiations.
Cleveland isn’t the only team to give New York problems recently either. After a strong month of August that featured a 13-game winning streak, the Bronx Bombers have struggled mightily in September, including a seven-game losing streak that has almost reversed the progress made by August’s winning streak.
After being 35-17 between July and August, the Yankees have plummeted to 7-11 so far in the month of September. Losses to Cleveland, Baltimore and other teams that they should beat on paper have derailed their chances a bit. It just goes to show that deadline moves to acquire top talent, like Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, doesn’t always work.
From Cleveland’s perspective, the wins are refreshing to see. The team could very easily not care about the rest of the season, but they’re showing fight which will help not only the players, but the coaching staff as well.
The front office recently came out and said that the plan is to have Terry Francona return to the bench next season. However, at some point Francona is going to step away. The effort that the club is still showing down the stretch speaks to the leadership of DeMarlo Hale. The players aren’t quitting or coasting to the end of the season and Hale can be attributed at pushing for those results.
To the same note, the players are aware that the season might be over but there’s still eyes watching. This is an evaluation period in every aspect of the game and the team is trying to get younger. It’s an audition for not only the 2022 Cleveland Indians, but all of Major League Baseball.
So while the postseason might be out of reach for Cleveland, the Tribe still managed to impact the playoff race this past weekend. While it would be nice if those wins meant something more for Cleveland’s playoff hopes, it’s always nice to throw a wrench into the playoff plans of the New York Yankees. Not to mention it helps trend the end of the season in a more positive spin.
As stated above, there’s still a couple weeks left in the season and a little more than a dozen games remaining. Cleveland can still end on a high note and the New York series was an example. Hopefully, there’s some signs to take into the offseason that can provide hope for the 2022 campaign.