The Indians shot themselves in the foot over the weekend.
It’d be fair to say the Indians couldn’t afford to lose the weekend series to the Chicago White Sox if they wanted to stay in the chase for the AL Central crown. Entering the weekend, they were nine games back with eight games against the White Sox to play. Had they swept both of the remaining two series, the Indians are right back in the hunt and could have possibly taken the lead for the series depending on what happened to the White Sox during the break between series.
Then the Indians lost two of three from the White Sox, stretching the lead back to nine. The Tribe still has a five-game series with the White Sox in September and with two months’ worth of baseball to be played, nothing has been decided.
That said, losing those two games didn’t help their playoff chances by any means. They’re six and a half games back in the wildcard and starting a pivotal series with the Blue Jays to start the week off.
The Indians are still capable of winning despite the trades.
The Indians lost 6-4 on Friday, won 12-11 on Saturday, and lost 2-1 on Sunday on a walk-off home run. Yes, those losses to the White Sox hurt but it’s beyond clear that the trades didn’t hurt the Indian’s ability to compete. If two innings go slightly different, the Tribe sweep that series with the White Sox and things are looking very different.
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The team isn’t dead in the water as some have speculated and some guys even looked good in the series despite the unfortunate outcome of two of the three games. With Shane Bieber due back in a week or two, if the Indians can put together a few series wins, then they’re right back in the thick of things.
Counting the current Blue Jays series, eight of the next 12 series the Tribe have are against the Tigers (twice), Twins (twice) Royals, Angels, and Rangers. Those are eight series that the Tribe can not only beat but sweep. Granted the odds of them sweeping every one of those series isn’t great, but even if they just win those series, that could prove all the difference in turning the team around.
They do have to play the Red Sox twice in that span and the A’s, two of the better teams in the AL, but the Indians aren’t the squad from Major League. They have genuine talent. Assuming they win every series of the eight mentioned and don’t get swept in the other three, they could presumably win 23 games in August and that would put them at an estimated record of 74-65, right in the thick of things.
The Indians need to win for any of this to happen, obviously but as Bon Jovi once said, “you got to keep the faith.”