While the Indians were able to win their series against the lowly Mets, they were unable to maintain the one game distance between them and the Wild Card leading Rays when they lost the final game. A sweep was well within reach, but things slipped away in the final inning Sunday afternoon.
The Indians will stay in Cleveland for one more series as they move on to face the Kansas City Royals. Despite having almost identical records against the Central Division (KC 36-27, CLE 32-28), they have come about those records very differently. While the Indians have struggled against the Tigers (4-15), the Royals (9-7) have comparatively flourished, and just finished a three game set against Detroit that they finished 2-1. The head-to-head match-ups between the Royals and Indians are where that difference has been made up, with the Indians winning eight of the thirteen games so far. This will be a telling stretch for all three teams involved as the Royals will come to Cleveland, go to Detroit, then play the Indians at home, giving them four straight series against the top two teams in the AL Central.
Game 1: Monday, September 9th 7:05 PM EDT
Ervin Santana, RHP, 8-8, 3.33 ERA vs Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, 10-9, 3.79 ERA
Game 2: Tuesday, September 10th 7:05 PM EDT
Jeremy Gurthrie, RHP, 13-10, 4.19 ERA vs Zach McAllister, RHP, 7-8, 3.97 ERA
Game 3: Wednesday, September 11th 12:05 PM EDT
James Shields, LHP, 10-9, 3.43 ERA vs Scott Kazmir, LHP, 8-7, 4.17 ERA
- The Indians have six games remaining against Kansas City, allowing them to go 3-3 total and still stay ahead of the Royals in the race and keep in the Wild Card hunt. The best way to do this would to be to win this series 2-1, giving them some leeway when they play the Royals in Kansas City.
The main contenders of the Indians will be playing:
- Tampa Bay against the Red Sox at home,
- Texas against Pittsburgh at home,
- And the Yankees and Orioles will be playing each other in Baltimore.
- This means it will be a great time to gain ground on everybody. Especially with New York and Baltimore playing four against each other, the list of Wild Card contenders could be two teams shorter by Thursday.
- Michael Brantley should be returning to the Indians for Monday's game. He left the team prior to the series against the Mets for the birth of his child and missed the whole series, although he was not sorely needed.
- As usual, the best outcome would be for the Indians to win the first two games, then have the third game available for a possible sweep. With Shields expected to go on Wednesday, this certainly seems to be the best way to guarantee a series win, especially as he faces Kazmir, who was great last time out, but has had issues with velocity and command late in the season.
- Ervin Santana has been a major pain for the Indians ever since he threw the last no hitter against the Tribe and the Indians will have to beat him in game one if they want to win the series. Whether that means loading the lineup with left handers (like Jason Giambi) and just trying to power their way through or trying to play small ball just to get a run across is hard to tell as nothing has really worked to this point.