In a strange twist of fate, the sports gods have spared the city of Cleveland from potential disaster for the second weekend in a row. Last weekend, while the Browns were ripping the hearts out of our butts in another gut wrenching home opener loss, the Indians were 750 miles away in Minnesota losing three out of four to the Twins. This weekend, the Indians come home to face the Tigers while the Browns make their way down to Cincinnati to take on… the Bengals. Weird.
Think of it this way. Having both teams in town on the same day, sending fans even further into a state of sports depression that they’re already in would be the equivalent of the Ghostbusters crossing the streams of their proton packs; complete and total disaster. To quote Egon Spengler, “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.” Now throw in some riots, looting, and other forms of drunken debauchery and it’s right on target. So again, thank you, sports gods for not crossing the streams of Cleveland sports. Moving on…
The Indians managed to win a baseball game last night against the Rangers. If they can win tonight’s opener against the Tigers that’ll be two in a row. Win again on Saturday and that’s what they call a winning streak. It has happened before. It won’t be easy, though. As we’ve documented time and time again, the Indians aren’t exactly playing their best baseball and certainly aren’t fielding the most competitive lineups we’ve ever seen thanks to September call-ups. Unless you believe batting Vinny Rottino in the 5-hole is a tactical strategic maneuver.
Lineups aside, the biggest issue facing the Indians is Justin Verlander. They originally caught a break because Verlander was penciled in to face off against Chris Sale last night. Unfortunately, thanks to rain, the game was postponed meaning the Indians will now be forced to face off against Verlander tonight followed by Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello on Saturday and Sunday respectively. On top of that, given the fact that the Tigers are in the midst of a playoff race and the Indians have very little to play for at this point you have to assume the Tigers have a significant advantage heading into the weekend, or do they?
The Tribe has been a bit of a thorn in the Tigers’ paws this year. Despite their juggernaut of a lineup and potentially dominating pitching staff, the Tigers are only
9-6 6-9 versus the Tribe this season. Going even further, the Indians have had their way with Verlander. He’s posted and 0-2 record with a 3.60 ERA in just 15 innings of work. It’s admittedly a small sample size, but given Verlander’s status as the top pitcher in the game today, you would expect numbers that were a little less human, for lack of a better term.
So can the Indians continue their run of success versus Detroit, do the unthinkable and play spoiler? It’s definitely possible. Unlikely for a multitude of reasons, but definitely possible. After all, the Tigers are one of the Indians most hated rivals. The opportunity to put them behind the eight ball with less than 20 games left to play would be the icing on what has been a pretty awful tasting cake. I mean, how awesome would it be to ruin the season of the supposedly indestructible $120 million Tigers?
More than likely it will come down to whether or not the Tigers are the ones to show up and play. If they can do what they do offensively, in other words score the equivalent of two weeks worth of runs for the Indians in only three games, and keep their defensive miscues to a minimum then there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to alter their fortunes against the Indians. By all accounts they are the better team on paper. It’s not even close. But, that’s why they play the games. You never know what’s going to happen, especially heading down the home stretch into October.
It’s just a shame that the 2012 season has come down to moral victories rather than actual victories at this point. There was so much promise and potential, especially early on. Now we’re faced with the reality of possibly finishing in last place in the AL Central with the worst record in the league. The Indians said this season was playoffs or bust. Well, they certainly are busted, aren’t they?