It’s been a tough week so far for the Cleveland Indians.
They lost four games to the division leading Detroit Tigers, two of them in excruciating fashion, losing a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning of the series opener on Monday night, and then losing in 13 frames on Wednesday on a Prince Fielder double, 6-5.
Oh, and they also lost Corey Kluber, who pitched 7-1/3 shutout innings on Monday and was having an excellent season to date, for four to six weeks with a sprained middle finger.
They also designated Mark Reynolds for assignment yesterday. Reynolds hit .301 with 8 HR and 22 RBI in April, and since has batted just .187 with 7 HR and 26 batted in. It has been clear for the past month that skipper Terry Francona lost confidence in the former Oriole and Diamondback, so it wasn’t a totally unexpected move.
Many fans, mostly the fair weather football minded ones, are writing off the rest of the baseball season.
To be sure, if the team doesn’t put this week behind them, the Indians will fall out of the race soon and the rest of the summer will be about the Browns and football season.
However, this isn’t the 2011 and 2012 version of the Tribe and Francona is now the manager, so it is doubtful that will happen.
Why? Because the Indians have a lot to play for, namely a berth in the post-season tournament.
Even after the debacle at Progressive Field the past four days, the Tribe is just three games out of a wild card spot, trailing the incumbent Texas Rangers and Baltimore, with the Royals right on their heels.
Keep in mind there are still 47 games left on the schedule, plenty of time to pass both teams.
The upcoming schedule will be tough to be sure. After this weekend series vs. the Angels, Francona’s crew plays 18 of the next 21 games on the road, playing possible playoff teams like Oakland, Atlanta, and Detroit (ugh!) once again. They also visit Minnesota and Los Angeles too, with the Twins visiting for the only three home games in this stretch.
If the Tribe can pull together and play like they had been playing prior to these four games, and there really isn’t reason they can’t, they will have a good shot at a wild card appearance.
Here are some things that could happen in the next couple of weeks–
First, the Reynolds’ assignment could be a precursor to the addition of a bat to bolster the offense. GM Chris Antonetti is said to be looking for another bat, and could make a move soon. Remember, anybody than can bring more production than Reynolds gave the team over the last three months will help the club.
Zack McAllister has not pitched as well since returning to the rotation after his finger injury as he had before he went on the disabled list, and if that continues, don’t be surprised to see Daisuke Matsuzaka get a shot for a few starts.
The former Red Sox pitcher has done very well in the last month at Columbus, and the front office may want to see what he can offer the big club.
There is no question the Tigers’ series was a huge disappointment, but the Tribe can’t and won’t let it linger. They still have a legitimate chance at the post-season.
Now, it’s just a matter of putting up as many wins as they can.