Don't look now, but the Cleveland Guardians are only 3.5 games back of the American League Central division-leading Minnesota Twins. The worst division in all of baseball still manages to entertain baseball fans everywhere as the two teams in contention for a division title limp their way through August.
Winning a 4-3 Thursday afternoon game over the Blue Jays to earn a series split with Toronto helped Cleveland's cause. Another contributing factor would be the Minnesota Twins dropping three of four games to the lowly Detroit Tigers of all teams. Perhaps declaring the best-case scenario for Cleveland being the development of Bo Naylor was not the wisest decision after all?
And to be fair, Cleveland was outhit Thursday by Toronto 10-5. This was not an outlier, as the Blue Jays registered 32 hits to the 19 of the Guardians over four games. Additionally, they were outscored in the series 7-6 and only scored more than one run once, Thursday. This offense is far from a prolific unit and should not change soon. Sure, Josh Naylor's potential eventual return could be a nice boost should they still be in the mix in a few weeks, but this team still put up pitiful power numbers with him in the lineup.
Does a Guardians team featuring four rookies in their starting rotation in addition to Kole Calhoun seeing regular time at first base a sustainable way to go on a run? No, but the Twins playing like the frauds they are is keeping a team that has underperformed all season long still in the mix.
Cleveland has a more difficult schedule than Minnesota down the stretch, so the chances that the Twins build a somewhat substantial lead are high. There is still a chance that the Guardians defy the odds and remain an option to win the division over Minnesota. The odds are not in their favor, but there is still a chance, and that is all a team needs.