Sep 29, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) and shortstop Yunel Escobar (11) celebrate a win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Tampa defeated Toronto 7-6. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Indians Must Wait for Wild Card Opponent

All is right in the world of Cleveland Indians baseball. They have clinched a playoff spot, well technically a playoff spot but that’s an argument for a different day, and enter postseason play as the hottest team still alive. There is a lot to like right now. Of course, we might like it more if we knew exactly who they were going to be playing.

It’s funny how we watch 162 games be played and yet somehow, someway it’s often not enough. Such is the case for the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays. After 162 hard fought games it will take one final game to decide who will travel to Cleveland to take on the Indians. It’s exciting as a baseball fan and even more so as a fan of the Indians. Watching these two teams battle tooth and nail with all hands on deck can only put the Indians at an advantage.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

First off, the Rangers threw their ace, Yu Darvish, on Sunday just to get to this point. Now the Rays will do the same by sending David Price to the mound to extend their season at least one more game. It seems unlikely that the Tribe will be forced to contend with Darvish and a certainty they won’t face Price now thanks to this one game tiebreaker.

There is also the added possibility that both bullpens could be forced into extra duty should either starter falter or tonight’s game goes into extra innings. It will be all hands on deck meaning anyone and everyone could be available to pitch. With only one day’s rest in between this is another potential, albeit much less advantage for the Indians who will be well rested.

Of course the argument can also shift from advantages to a simple, “who would you rather face?” argument.

The argument for the Rays centers around not having to face David Price, as mentioned above, and a slightly weaker offense centered around Wil Myers and Evan Longoria. Once you get past those two power bats the Rays lineup become a mish mosh of scrappy role players and journeymen. They do not pack the same type of offensive fire power 1-9 that the Rangers can offer. However, they are flexible, play solid defense at every position, and just find ways to win games.

On the flip side, the argument for wanting to face the Rangers involves the Tribe’s track record against them in 2013. Yes, records get thrown out the window at this point, but it’s hard to ignore how well the Indians played against the Rangers this season, going 5-1 in their six meetings. They’ve also had to expend a lot of energy just to get to this point. If they do find a way to win tonight, how much will be left in the gas tank?

Either way you look at it, the Indians will have their hands full with a very talented team on Wednesday night. Both the Rays and Rangers present unique sets of challenges and will sure to be riding a wave of emotion and excitement. How the Indians are able to respond will be paramount to any potential success they may experience from this point forward.

Tags: Cleveland Indians Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers

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