Looking at the standings in the American League, an Indians fan can be discouraged by the fact the team is 12-1/2 games behind the front running Chicago White Sox. I look at the standings another way–
- Baltimore 42-31 —–
- Minnesota 39-32 2
- Cleveland 37-34 4
- Texas 37-34 4
- New York 37-36 5
- Detroit 35-34 5
- Toronto 37-37 5-1/2
These are the American League Wild Card Standings, and although it is much too early in the season to watch the scores of these teams every night, these are the clubs the Indians will be battling for one playoff spot.
In the East, the Red Sox will get Curt Schilling back and will add another arm for their bullpen in a trade, so the Orioles best chance is the Wild Card. In the Central, no one is catching the Pale Hose unless they suffer a monumental collapse, so the rest of the division’s best hope is the extra team in the postseason. The Angels look to be the class of the West, especially after sweeping the Rangers this past week.
So, Tribe fans, forget about Chicago and check once a week on where Cleveland ranks with those teams I just listed.
The other thing that concerns me about Eric Wedge’s crew is the amount of work for one of the best bullpens in the AL. The Tribe ranks in the top four in the league in innings pitched by relievers, so overwork is starting to be a concern. Wedge needs his starters to go longer in games, so the pen only has to work an inning or two each night.
The usual hand wringing on Cleveland sportstalk radio has begun with the Tribe’s losses in the first two games of the Boston series. After a tremendous comeback from being down 9-4 on Monday, the Indians were smoked yesterday losing 9-2. Before you think this is the same as last season, relax just a bit.
The key games for the Indians are tonight and this weekend. It does no good to follow up a nine game winning streak with a six or seven game losing skein. So, if Cleveland can salvage one game against the BoSox tonight and then take two of three from the Reds this weekend, that will be 12 wins in 16 games and we can all live with that.
Face it, the Sox are the World Champions. It is not an embarassment to lose to them. But, the Tribe does play them in Boston next week, so it would be nice to pick up a win against them at Jacobs Field.
The Indians pitched well for the first 67 games of the year, but that doesn’t stop people from having the opinion that the true performance of the hurlers is the last two nights. In reality, the Tribe has solid starting pitching, a very good bullpen, and an offense that is starting to score runs. That bodes well over the long haul.
Relax, Tribe fans. Over the last 39 games, almost one quarter of the season, the Indians are 25-14. They have done it playing some of the better teams in baseball, the White Sox, Twins, Angels, and two of the NL West teams they played (Padres and Diamondbacks) are above .500.
It says here the Indians will be battling for the Wild Card spot against teams like Minnesota, Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and Texas. If they can add another bat, preferably a right handed hitter, they will be in that race for a long time.