I typically try to avoid putting too much emphasis on any one series, road trip, etc.  Throughout the season, I’ve heard people say that a specific road trip, or a specific series, is do-or-die time for the Indians.  I’ve been hearing this as far back as June, which is still a bit early to say something like that.  That’s because when you have a couple of months left in the season, anything can happen – you have time to recover from your mistakes and from your 2-7 road trips.  I don’t say this to diminish the importance of winning series during the first half of the season, just to stress that you have time to undo the damage.  With just over a month remaining in the season, the Indians are running out of time to undo damage.

Tomorrow the Indians begin a six-game road trip against the Atlanta Braves and the Detroit Tigers, and will return home for three games with the Baltimore Orioles.  There are times this season where the Indians manhandled contending teams (like the Rangers and the first time they saw the Athletics).  Then there were times that they’ve simply been owned – like against Detroit, Boston, and Tampa Bay.  The Braves currently have the best record in baseball at 78-52, and are coasting to the AL East title with a 13-game lead over Washington, their nearest competitor.  In past seasons, the Indians would have interleague play out of the way by the end of June; if they performed terribly, they had time to bounce back from it.  Since they do not get that luxury this year, they need to have a strong showing against the Braves.

Then the Indians move on to Detroit, where they will finally be done with the Tigers for the season.  (I don’t know if I’ve ever been so glad to see a team in the rear view mirror).  So far this season, the Indians are 3-13 against Detroit; two of those three wins came at Comerica back in May.  I guess you can say that the Indians have at least proved that it is actually humanly possible to beat the Tigers on their home turf.  Detroit, at 77-53, is currently six games ahead of the Indians.  To have even the slightest, most minuscule shot of overtaking them, they’d have to sweep this weekend.  Since I’d almost rate it as more likely for me to get struck by lightening three different times this weekend, I’m not holding my breath.  They still can’t afford to get swept yet again by them, and hope to stay in range of the wild card (they’re currently a game and a half back from Oakland for the second spot).

The Indians return home to take on the Orioles for a three-game set.  Baltimore, at 70-59, is just a half game behind the Indians for the second wild card spot.  A lot could change by the time they get to town, but right now you have to plan for it remaining a razor-thin margin.  The New York Yankees aren’t that far behind either, just three and a half games back from Oakland.  The Indians are 2-2 against Baltimore so far this year, so the season series is up for grabs next week as well.

After the Indians complete the three series against the Braves, Tigers, and Orioles, they will no longer face any of the teams immediately ahead or behind them.  They will compete almost solely against teams below .500 too – the only exception will be six games against the Royals (who are currently two games above .500).  The Indians haven’t faced the Mets, but so far they’re 8-5 against the Royals, 11-2 against the White Sox (six games remaining with them), 9-6 against the Twins (four games remaining against them), and 2-1 against Houston (four games with the Astros, who have MLB’s worst record).  Since the Indians won’t be playing the teams ahead or behind them, they need to use the next 10 games to get into a good position.  Then they need to take advantage of the sub-par teams they’ll compete against for the rest of the season.  Baseball Prospectus currently has the Indians’ playoff percentage at 36.7; the playoffs are still within their grasp, but they need to avoid falling on their face for the rest of the season.  (Particularly over the next week and a half).  They’ve already won more games than last season with just over a month left to play.  There’s no reason fans can’t get greedy and hope for a playoff spot as well.


  • Seattle Stu says:

    i think we should avoid putting too much pressure on ourselves….but i think 2-3 wins of the 6 is a manageable objective to keep our WC hopes alive…i’ve written off the division after the way DET has just manhandled us this year….if we can get a couple wins and then do some damage with a weak remaining schedule, we have a shot….which is all we can ask for after the past few seasons….GO TRIBE.

    • shaun says:

      because we are so inconsistent (or consistent in our inconsistency), we are dangerous…there’s not a single one of the teams we’re facing in the next ten days that are looking at us like gimmies…

  • Weston says:

    You know what really hurts? Having to root for the Tigers right now. We need them to beat Oakland.

  • Seattle Stu says:

    sidebar, does anyone know how tomlin is progressing and if we can expect a few starts from him in Sept?

    • Weston says:

      During yesterday’s game, I believe I heard Tom Hamilton say to expect to see him pitch for the Indians in September. He didn’t (or couldn’t) elaborate.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Stu, last I heard, Tomlin was on his way to a rehab assignment at AAA Columbus. Anything beyond that would be speculation on my part.

  • D.P. Roberts says:

    The Tigers are currently losing to Oakland. They swept the Mets, but before that they lost a series to the Twins, won 3-2 against a recently slumping KC, and lost 2 out of 3 to the White Sox. The Tigers sure sound like a team that the Indians can beat.

    I’m not saying they will, of course. Like everyone, I’m asking myself “How many games can the Indians lose against the Tigers and still be in the hunt?” Why is a team that just lost to the Twins and White Sox so dominant over the Indians? Is it psychological, or do the Tigers just turn it up a notch against their nearest competitors, or what?

    On the positive side, we won’t see Scherzer in the series with the Tigers, and we’re not facing the Braves’ top 2 pitchers either.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    My main goal for the next 9 games is for them to not poop the bed. I’m not even sure what I’d define as pooping the bed…I guess I could say that I’d be happy if they could even pull off 5-4 over the stretch.

    Tomlin’s had about 8 (maybe 9) rehab appearances at the various minor league affiliates. He pitched scoreless baseball when he was with the Arizona Rookie League team, and with Lake County. In his most recent Akron start (August 17) he got off to a rough start, but only ended up giving up 1 run. I think he threw 49 pitches, 34 of which were strikes and he didn’t walk anyone. That’s typically a good sign for someone coming off of Tommy John surgery; sometimes your control isn’t as precise at first (but everyone is different). He started for Columbus against Gwinnett last Thursday, and gave up 3 ER on 7 hits.

    I believe the plan is to bring him up after the September 1 call-ups, but I’m sure they’ll evaluate at the time. Since Tomlin relies on his control for success (since he doesn’t have stuff that blows people away), I think if he has command of his pitches they’d probably plan for him to be back. Even in that shaky-ish start in Columbus (shaky when compared to his other rehab starts), he didn’t walk anyone. Since they recently pulled him off the 60-day DL, that means he’ll be on the 40-man for Sept. 1.

    In other DL player news, Brett Myers pitched a perfect inning for Akron in relief tonight against Erie, striking out two. I figured he wouldn’t be seen again, but I guess if his arm is feeling better he may be back to work out of the bullpen.

  • Gvl Steve says:

    I like Tomlin, but I would not take anyone out of the current rotation to just hand him a position at this point in the season. The rotation is the reason the Indians are contending, and all six of the current group (If you include both Kluber and Salazar) have contributed. If a doubleheader or spot start crops up, yeah, I would give Tomlin a start over Carrasco. Otherwise, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.