A chance to validate their early season success begins for the Cleveland Guardians

Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians
Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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At this point in the season, it is abundantly clear that the Cleveland Guardians are one of the best teams in baseball. But for some reason, they are still the recipients of plenty of skepticism regarding their record and how they have gotten there. The good news is that the Guardians can silence their critics and can validate their success with their upcoming road trip that begins in Baltimore on Monday night.

Like Cleveland, Baltimore has put together one of the best starts in the first half of the season. With nearly identical records between the two clubs (Cleveland is 49-26 and Baltimore is 49-28), this is setting up to be a competitive and entertaining contest between two teams that have something to prove. For the Orioles, it is that their young roster is able to rise to the task of battling it out with the heavily favored New York Yankees and that they are indeed a contender for the American League East division title, while the Guardians are looking to put 2023's disappointing campaign behind them. If Cleveland can come out on top in this series, or at least make it a competitive one throughout the next three days, it should make those who are quick to question Cleveland's place atop the American League Central a little more hesitant to do so.

After Baltimore awaits the Royals for a four-game set in Kansas City. While the Royals were once the underdog of the sport that was receiving plenty of praise and attention, they have since cooled down with a 3-7 record over their last 10 games. The flawed roster construction that was very obvious at the beginning of the season has caught up to the darlings of the AL Central and is just about to put the Royals just far enough out of contention that could impact their plans at the upcoming trade deadline. While this does sound like the Royals are not a team to take seriously, that is far from the truth. There are still plenty of talented players on that roster, and their scrappy style of play can give even the best teams a run for their money. Cleveland cannot overlook Kansas City if they are going to keep their current 7.5-game lead in the AL Central intact.

A seven-game road trip in a 162-game season may not seem all that important in the grand scheme of things, and it probably isn't, but it would be nice to see a team that has blown past what was expected of them this season receive the credit they truly deserve. Taking care of business on the road and coming out with a winning record against Baltimore and Kansas City would help make that a reality.