Well, it’s deja vu all over again. The Cleveland Indians are once again even in the win/loss column, courtesy of a 6-3 victory today against the Chicago White Sox. It was the kind of a win fans can enjoy, with the team taking an early lead, and solid pitching making it seem like the White Sox never really had a chance.
Lonnie and Francisco Lindor (who else) were the heroes of the day. Chisenhall, keeping up his solid play since taking over in right field. He staked the Tribe to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning when he followed a Yan Gomes single with a homerun to right field to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Lindor followed that up by singling home Abraham Almonte to make it 3-0 Indians after two innings to give starter Josh Tomlin a cushion.
The pair were back at it in the sixth inning. Having already chased White Sox starter John Danks from the game after five innings, Chisenhall followed a double by Yan Gomes off reliever Zach Putnam with one of his own to make it 4-0. Later in the inning, after a walk by Jason Kipnis, Lindor hit a sacrifice fly center field to score Chisenhall, and after a Michael Brantley double scored Kipnis and make it 6-0 Indians. The White Sox closed the gap with a pair of runs in the seventh and another in the eighth inning, but the Indians always seemed to be in control on the way to a 6-3 victory.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin wasn’t quite as efficient as he had been since his return to the rotation, but was more than good enough for the win, as he pitched five and two-thirds scoreless inning while allowing four hits and three walks. Tomlin has never been an overpowering pitcher, but when healthy he has been able to rely on smart pitching and excellent control to be effective. He has likely put himself into serious contention for a rotation spot next year, especially given Trevor Bauer’s struggles in the second half of the season.
Now things could get interesting. At 74-74, the Indians trail the Houston Astros by four games for the second American League Wild Card spot with just fourteen games remaining, with the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins also between the two teams. While a postseason berth still seems unlikely, never say never. The Angels and Astros begin a three-game series against one another tomorrow night, and the Indians and Twins go head-to-head for three games starting Tuesday. If the Indians are able to sweep their series against the Twins and neither the Angels or Astros sweep the other series, the Tribe would pass the Twins and gain ground on both of the other teams. If the Indians are two games out with ten left, and playing the way they have been lately, then one of the most improbable playoff appearances in Cleveland sports history could happen. After all the adversity they’ve already overcome, I wouldn’t bet against this team.