The Guardians' three-game series with the Atlanta Braves went about as well as anyone could have hoped. The Braves are clearly the superior team and Cleveland coming away with one win is about all anyone could have realistically asked for. Now that the Braves are gone and the Royals come to town there is an opportunity that the Guardians must not squander. This four-game set with Kansas City presents Cleveland the chance to end the first half of the season on a strong note.
The Guardians have already played the Royals three times this season, winning twice and capturing a series win on their most recent road trip. Cleveland would certainly sign up for something similar as they are still looking up at the American League Central division leading Minnesota Twins. The Guardians currently trail the division leader by two games and ideally that gap shrinks or disappears entirely by the end of this weekend.
Cleveland can make up half a game in the standings with a win Thursday as the Twins are idle. Minnesota begins their final pre-All-Star break series against Baltimore Friday. Based off matchups and opponent difficulty Cleveland certainly holds the advantage here. Any team would rather face the Royals instead of the Orioles before heading into the break.
This is not about building momentum for the second half, as the extended time between games essentially kills the natural game-to-game flow of a baseball season. This is solely about ending on a strong note and putting pressure on Minnesota. The Twins are incredibly vulnerable and are by no means a powerhouse of any kind. Making their lead in the division shrink should result in Minnesota crumbling and hopefully lead to their much overdue fall back to reality.
While Cleveland is not without their own issues, (there are several), but between the Guadians and Twins there is one team that is the more stable outfit and they do not play in the Twin Cities. All Cleveland has to do is take care of business against one of the worst teams in baseball and they will set themselves up for what should be an exciting second half.