Monday, September 23, 2013

Tribe puts on a weekend show, primes for the last week

Well, in my humble opinion, September is one of the best months of the year, with the return of football, baseball pennant races, and some of the finest weather you can hope for. And for once, the sports teams of Ohio really put on a display. (Yes, I'll include the Bengals in that overarching statement.)

Let's talk Tribe. Despite a summer of streaks, punctuated by untimely collapses against that team up north (of Toledo), the Tribe woke up on Saturday in an actual, honest-to-God playoff spot and haven't done anything at all to mess that up. Two weeks ago, we all knew that the Indians had the easiest remaining schedule, and all they did this weekend was win four games against the hapless Houston Astros, to find themselves 1.5 games up on Texas for the second wild card spot (yes, that's a real thing), and only .5 games behind the Devil Rays for the first spot. The other three teams in this wild AL wild card chase, the Royals, Yankees, and Orioles, appear to be fading out of contention. (And for the record, the magic number for Detroit is two as of Monday morning.)

An amazing run by a scrappy group of players this year, and punctuated by the lights-out pitching of Ubaldo Jimenez this second half. Ubaldo is pitching exactly like the Indians' brass thought he could when they traded two "top" prospects in 2011. Now, Jimenez is in line for a giant payday this offseason, which will likely put him outside the Indians' budget. But no matter for now. The Indians trio of Justin Masterson (returning soon from an abdominal strain), Scott Kazmir, and Jimenez all have over 150 strikeouts--which is only the third time in Tribe history that has happened. Add to that some timely hitting and a mostly non-ulcer-inducing bullpen, and the Indians look like October can be a reality.

Finally, despite already getting the Astros off the schedule, the Indians still have the weakest opponents remaining:

Remaining Schedule:
-Indians: vs. White Sox (2), at Twins (4). Weighted winning percentage: .411
-Devil Rays: vs. Orioles (1), at Yankees (3), at Blue Jays (3). Weighted winning percentage: .508
-Rangers: vs. Astros (3), vs. Angels (4): Weighted winning percentage: .420