The Indians are returning home, where they are 40-26, a far cry from their 31-38 record on the road. They are also relieved of the burden of trying to win the Central Division title as the Tigers were able to beat some sense into the Tribe while they were in Detroit. It's Wild Card talk from here on out as the Indians will try to win the back door into the play-offs for the first time in franchise history.
They are not alone, however as six teams face off for the final two available spots. The Indians can take care of one of those teams directly, right now in the upcoming series against the Orioles. Currently, Baltimore sits just one loss better than the Indians, so a series win would firmly flip the situation around. Aside from that, they will have to hope for the division leaders to take the other contenders down as the A's play the Rangers two more times and the Rays face both the Red Sox and Rangers.
Game 1: Monday, September 2nd 4:05 PM EDT
Bud Norris, RHP, 9-10, 4.13 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 14-9, 3.49 ERA
Game 2: Tuesday, September 3rd 7:05 PM EDT
Chris Tillman, RHP, 15-4, 3.61 ERA vs Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 9-9, 3.95 ERA
Game 3: Wednesday, September 4th 7:05 PM EDT
Miguel Gonzalez, RHP, 8-7, 4.11 ERA vs Zach McAllister, RHP, 3.81 ERA
- The Indians will get another opportunity to face one of their direct competitors and will have to hope things fare better than the last time that happened. In order to have any chance at winning the Wild Card, the Indians will need to win every single series for the rest of the season and that starts now. This is actually the only series the opponent will be coming in with a better record than Cleveland for the rest of the year, so that is not an impossible situation.
- Justin Masterson has been toying with the possibility of a 20 win season all season, but has not come to the cutting point. He will need to win every game he starts for the rest of the year to reach that mile stone, a goal that fits well with the Indians Wild Card hopes.
- Don't believe if anyone tells you the reason the Indians have been struggling offensively is because they have been facing good pitching. The Indians have been struggling offensively ever since Mark Reynolds stopped hitting a home run every other night. This is not a powerful offensive juggernaut like Detroit, it is a team that needs to pitch well and play exceptional defense to win. Because of this, Drew Stubbs should see more playing time as he provides a greater benefit with his defense than the difference between him and anyone else offensively.
- The Indians have a decided advantage in pitching match-ups going into the series, something that hasn't been true in the last two. Wins in games one and three should be easiest as the Indians top two starters will face two of Baltimore's worst.