Well, folks, it’s finally here. The big summer showdown we’ve all been aching for, the one we’ve had circled on our calendars for the past month; it has finally arrived.
The Detroit Tigers will roll in to Progressive Field on Monday night to start what should be the biggest series of the year for our hometown Indians. This will be the last time the Indians will host the Tigers, and the stakes could not be higher for an early August series. How big is it? Let us count the ways:
-The Tigers have won 8 straight and 12 of 13 overall. They have outscored their opponents by a ludicrous 50 runs over that span.
-The Indians have won 9 of their last 10 games, and find themselves a half-game ahead of Texas for the last Wild Card spot. That’s right, if the season ended right now the Indians would be in the 1-game playoff.
-The Tigers will send their four best starters to the hill in this series: Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer.
-The Indians will counter with Corey Kluber, Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar(!), and Zach McAllister.
-Miguel Cabrera hasn’t played in four games, but he took batting practice on Sunday, so he might be back Monday (and if not then, probably sometime in this series).
So, as you can see, the Indians are going to have to get the Tigers’ best shot in this series, and they haven’t exactly had great success against the Tigers this year, as they’ve gone 3-9 in 12 games and been outscored by 40 runs in that span (ouch). Still, I can’t help but be optimistic for this week… I feel like the Indians are primed to turn the tables on the Tigers, despite all the odds stacked against them.
I am incredibly tempted to sit here and prepare all of you for the eventuality that the Indians get their butts handed to them, but that is a very defeatist attitude (though one common among Cleveland sports fans). Instead, I want to remind all of you that these games are at home, and Progressive Field can be a magical place when the fans are out in force. I know it’s a mid-week series, I know the Browns are practicing, I know the Indians have broken your hearts twice in the past two seasons, but please, please go out and support this team. If a frothing, cheering throng can make this team play just 1% better, it may make the key difference.
The people of Cleveland said for years they would support this team when the Dolans spent, and they have. They brought in Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, and they added Terry Francona to the dugout. It is time for the city to keep up their side of the bargain and show up when the team needs them.
Go on, Cleveland, make me proud.