Sep 1, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; The Cleveland Indians watch the game in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Week Ahead For AL Playoff Contenders: September 2nd

Indians (Maybe) Sweep Royals, Take Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

How things “stand”:

The Cleveland Indians did what they needed to do this past week to get themselves back in the American League playoff hunt. They finished off a series win against Houston on August 24th, took two of three from the White Sox in Chicago then went to Kansas City and took the first two games of a three game series from the division-leading Royals. The third game was suspended in the bottom of the 10th inning with the Tribe up 4-2 after a clutch Lonnie Chisenhall two-out, 0-2 count two RBI double in the top half of the frame. It will be completed on September 22nd in Cleveland.

The Tribe came home from the successful road trip only to get embarrassed on national television by the visiting Detroit Tigers 12-1 yesterday. This leaves them four and a half games back of the Royals in the Central division, with the Tigers four games ahead of them. The Wild-Card standings saw some change in the past week as well. The Oakland Athletics still hold on to the top spot, with the Tigers now in possession of second. The Seattle Mariners sit a game and a half out, and the Indians have caught up to the New York Yankees at four games back. The Toronto Blue Jays remain five and a half games out.

 

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The Week Ahead:

Cleveland Indians

Last week rating/results: Could be good, could be bad / 5-1-1 (suspended game)

This week difficulty rating: Looking Good

Schedule: vs Detroit 9/2-9/4, vs Chicago White Sox 9/5-9/7

Aug 16, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) delivers a pitch in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Real quick: With the clunker yesterday, the Indians have lost three Corey Kluber starts in a row. One worries about his gas tank as he has never thrown more than 151 innings in a season, close to 200 this year. Carlos Carrasco has a start in each series, but the Tribe get both Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Every series is basically a must win from here on out.

Kansas City Royals

Last week rating/results: Looking Good / 2-5-1 (suspended game)

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: vs Texas 9/2-9/3, off 9/4, @ New York Yankees 9/5-9/7

Real quick: The Royals came into this past weekend as one of the hottest teams in baseball, but the Indians were able to hand them their first series loss since July 20th . Yesterday they won the first of a three game tune-up against the Rangers before heading to New York for three this weekend. Michael Pineda has looked good since his return from injury and Brandon McCarthy has looked even better in his time in pinstripes. The Royals catch both.

Detroit Tigers

Last week rating/results: Could be good, could be bad / 5-3

This week difficulty rating:Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: @ Cleveland 9/2-9/4, vs San Francisco 9/5-9/7

Real quick: One would hope that the Indians will put up more of a fight than they did in the game one massacre yesterday. Carrasco throwing on Tuesday should help. Miguel Cabrera awaking from his offensive slumber shouldn’t. The Giants have been hot as of late, winning six in a row before Monday’s loss at Colorado. David Price vs Madison Bumgarner on national TV on Saturday should be a cracker.

Seattle Mariners

Aug 29, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) looks to the catcher after surrendering his fourth home run of the game to Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week rating/results: Could be good, could be bad / 3-4

This week difficulty rating: Looking Good

Schedule: @ Oakland 9/2-9/3, @ Texas 9/4-9/7

Real quick: Bob Melvin had some destructive criticism of his team following their weekend sweep at the hands of the Angels. They responded by taking game one against the Mariners yesterday. They get Sonny Gray on Tuesday, who has come back down to earth in the second half, and send Felix Hernandez to dance with Jon Lester for the series finale. Traveling to Texas in early September is never fun, unless you’re playing one of their baseball teams.

New York Yankees

Last week rating/results: Could be good, could be bad / 4-4

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: vs Boston 9/2-9/4, vs Kansas City 9/5-9/7

Real quick: Looking like Wild Card or bust for the Yanks this year. Records never matter in games against the Red Sox, although it is pretty telling that the marquee pitching matchup of the series is Hiroki Kuroda vs Anthony Ranaudo. The weekend series against the Royals will help the Indians one way or another.

Toronto Blue Jays

Last week rating/results: Could be good, could be bad / 3-4

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: @ Tampa Bay 9/2-9/4, @ Boston 9/5-9/7

Real quick: The Jays are going to have to go on a serious run here in the last month to sniff the playoffs. This past weekend’s series win against the Yankees was their first since the beginning of August. They need slugger Edwin Encarnacion to return to form, as he’s slashing a mere .170/.241/.340 since returning from a quad injury. Their starting pitching needs to improve, their ERA sits just below five in the past 30 days. Closer Casey Janssen lost ten pounds to food poisoning during the All-Star break. Hitters are batting .328 with a .985 OPS since. Other than that, Toronto is in great shape.

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Tags: AL Central AL Wild Card Cleveland Indians

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