A week ago the Tribe looked like they had sured-up a spot in the coming MLB playoffs.
Now, the waters of postseason baseball look a bit more muddled in Cleveland.
Coming off two straight losses against the bottom of the heap Oakland Athletics, the Tribe needs to right the ship in order to remain serious contenders in the AL Central race.
The Indians can look to a number of factors to explain the dismal three run output from the offense and series loss to the A’s.
Sure, the team flew out west without a day off. Yes, they could have been experiencing a hangover cocktail of travel, road games and winning several unlikely comeback victories the previous week against the likes of the White Sox and Blue Jays.
But really the team just under-performed badly.
The measly three runs that crossed the plate for the Tribe in the series came purely from a trio of solo homers. Not the way any team wants to put runs on the board.
In Tuesday’s 9-1 drubbing, Cleveland had just four hits.
On Wednesday, the team scrapped together nine base-hits, but were 0-3 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners stranded, and eventually losing 5-1.
The two non-existent offensive performances were coupled with shaky starts from both Cleveland starters Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer. Both struggled to keep the game competitive from the get go, as Salazar gave up three runs in the first inning while Bauer gave up five runs in the second.
The lone win for Cleveland in the series came, in large part, thanks to a four-hit combined effort from Carlos Carasco and Andrew Miller. Carlos Santana’s solo shot gave the Tribe a 1-0 victory.
The poorly executed series from the Indians marks a divisive spot for the team if they want to be playing baseball in October.
Should the Tribe get back on track against the AL West leading Texas Rangers, we can look back at this most recent three games with the A’s as a minor blip on the radar. A series the team needed to lose to get its head on straight.
If they continue to struggle while Detroit and Kansas City continue to win, the trip to Oakland could prove to be devastating.
With 38 games left in the regular season the team needs to wash the taste of this series out of their collective mouths.
Detroit has rattled off three straight wins cutting the Tribe’s lead in the division to 5.5 games. The quickly approaching Kansas City Royals have won 9 of their last 10 ballgames and now sit just 7.5 games back of the lead.
The Indians, faced with an ever shrinking division lead, need to make a statement to both fans and other MLB teams that they truly belong as a top-contender.
A major chink in the team’s armor is their road record.
Currently, the Indians are still 20 games above the .500 mark despite a 33-30 record away from Progressive Field.
Taking a four-game series from the Rangers in Arlington would be the affirmation the team needs to stay in the conversation for playoff contention, as well proof that they can play on the road.
The first game is slated for an 8:05 start tonight.
Josh Tomlin is set to take on Cole Hamels, who is 13-4 on the year with a 2.80 ERA.