Everyone is aware that the Cleveland Indians are going through a tough patch right now, having lost 12 of their last 16 games. Their next nine games are against three teams that going into the season, most experts regarded as prime contenders to win the World Series: the Tigers, Rangers, and Nationals.
That will end a brutal stretch were the Tribe also played the Yankees, Red Sox, Reds, and Rays. That’s a tough schedule for any team.
However, the only teams that really beat up on Cleveland were the Bronx Bombers and their friends from the AL East, the BoSox. The Tribe went 2-12 against them, they are still 28-17 vs. everybody else in major league baseball.
A quick glance at the schedule shows things are about to change, and if Terry Francona’s team wants to stay in the race all season long, they have the opportunity to do just that.
This is not to underestimate any opponent, because at the beginning of the season, we felt the American League was brutal, with 13 of the 15 teams having a legitimate shot at the post-season. We excluded the Twins and Astros because of their rebuilding modes, although the former is in third place, just 2-1/2 games behind the Indians.
Still, have the Nationals visit Progressive Field next weekend, 25 of the next 33 contests are against Minnesota, the White Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, and Mariners. Only two four games series, one vs. Baltimore and the other against the Tigers, are against opponents considered among the best in the American League.
That basically takes the Indians through the end of July (and close to the trading deadline).
If you look at the balance of the schedule, there do not seem to be a lot of big bumps the rest of the way. There are three games against the Rangers, seven vs. Detroit, a three game set against the Orioles, and a three game interleague series vs. Atlanta, and three more against Oakland. The majority of the slate is games against the other AL Central teams, along with seven contests against the Astros and Marlins.
The Tribe will also play the Angels six times, but at this point it is difficult to say whether or not people should consider Los Angeles a quality team or not. They were highly touted coming into the season, but currently sit eight games below the .500 mark.
Again, this is not to take any team lightly, because the Indians need to improve the way they have hit and pitched over the last three weeks to start winning again.
And they struggled against the Yankees this season, and we feel they will end the season not making the playoffs based on the injuries and collective age of their team. They’ve been doing it with mirrors, and that likely will end. That said, the Tribe could only beat them once in seven tries.
The point is, after this stretch of games, the Cleveland Indians have an opportunity to play a lot of baseball against teams they figure to have more talent than, at least on paper.
Of course, we all know games are played on grass, not paper.
Still, things could be looking up soon for Francona’s bunch. At least, according to the schedule set up by major league baseball.