Give the Indians credit. After coming off of a tough weekend in Boston they needed to come out strong against the Twins. They did just that by sweeping the two-game series, and they now come back to Cleveland with a renewed swagger. Say what you want about how bad the Twins are, but the fact is the Indians went into the home stadium of a lesser opponent and took care of business. That’s something all good teams should do.
Now the Indians have the opportunity to gain some major momentum as they welcome the Seattle Mariners, the second-worst team in the American League (after the Twins), to Progressive Field for another quick two-game set. Not only that, but today’s opening game against the Mariners kicks off an eight-game, nine-day home stand in which the Tribe will also welcome the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers to Cleveland.
Looking out even further, after (hopefully) beating Detroit the Indians will travel to Chicago for three games with the White Sox and then return home for six more games with the Royals and Twins. For those of you not counting, that’s 14 out of their next 17 games at home, mostly against AL Central opponents. To say this is an important stretch for the Indians might be an understatement. If they play the way they are capable of playing, the Indians could build a commanding lead in the division heading into June.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For the next two days the Indians will have to contend with the Seattle Mariners (16-22), who have seen themselves fall to the bottom of the AL West standings. That’s not to say this comes as any surprise to anyone—the Mariners were never expected to compete this year—but their total lack of offensive firepower has been a bit alarming.
Over the past few years, the Mariners have tried to acquire young talent to help build a versatile lineup that can take advantage of the spaciousness of Safeco Field. On paper, they’ve done that. There’s a lot to like about Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Kyle Seager, and Jesus Montero. Combine some promising young players with the veteran presence of Ichiro and a lot of people are excited for this lineup to reach its potential. Unfortunately for Seattle, the results haven’t been there, at least not yet.
That’s the part that’s been most frustrating for Seattle fans. They have Felix Hernandez, one of the most talented young arms in baseball, but he is seemingly being wasted. How long before he says, “Enough is enough. Get me out of here”? What happens when he finally becomes a free agent? These are some serious questions the Mariners need to be prepared to answer if they can’t figure out their offensive woes.