Finally, we are on the eve of the biggest series of 2013 season for the Cleveland Indians.
A four-game set with the Detroit Tigers begins tonight from Progressive Field. It’s the series of the season; a make or break battle for the AL Central.
As hard as they tried to remove themselves from the race in Miami, the Tribe is still very much in the thick of things.
At this moment, they currently hold the second AL Wild Card spot over the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, and are three games behind Detroit in the Central.
Three games behind Detroit, four games in this series. You do the math.
For four days, the Wild Card doesn’t matter. If the Indians win, they gain ground in both the Division and the Wild Card standings. If they lose, they could fall right out of each race.
While the standings are what drives the significance of this set, the incredible play of each team has brought the meaning to it’s pinnacle.
Coming in, the Tigers have won 12 of their last 15 games since the All-Star Break, and eight in a row.
The Tribe has run just a tad bit behind, winning 12 out of their 17 contests since the Mid-Summer Classic and 10 out of their last 11 contests.
In total, since the All-Star Break, the Tigers and Indians are a combined 24-8.
In their last ten, they’re a combined 18-2.
While both teams have played incredible baseball, the buck stops here.
Is this make or break for the Tribe? For the Tigers? For both?
I guess the answer is “depending”.
In the case of the Indians, this series is massive. They know it. We know it. Everybody knows it.
If they take two, three, or four games, they’ll be proving to the nation that they belong. They belong on TV, belong in the attention span of the National Media, and belong in your hearts.
If they take one or zero, well, they’re proving that the 2013 season is truly dejà vu all over again.
While the wins and losses are what will ultimately determine the mark of this series on the 2013 season, this series will determine much more than that.
If Tribe fans pack the Jake and the Indians lay a dud- as they did just last month- it will be the nail in the attendance coffin in Cleveland.
We’ve seen it before. Game one of the four game series against Detroit in July was completely sold out. The Indians lost that game 7-0 and they haven’t sold out since.
Luckily, the Tribe has played well enough to have another crack to prove something to their fans. Again, Tribe fans will pack the place tonight.
It’s another chance to prove that they’re in this for good. A chance to bring the magic back. A chance to sell-out a few games in September.
Are they up to the challenge? That remains to be seen.
While we certainly understand this series from an Indians perspective, what does it mean for the Tigers?
The Tigers view the Indians as that pesky team that just won’t go away. And they’re right.
The Indians have been just hanging around. Never in first place for an extended period of time, just kind of sitting their waiting and making the Tigers very uncomfortable.
This is their chance to stomp on the Indians. Push them down the stairs. Claim their throne as King of the AL Central.
It’s a chance go get Miguel Cabrera back in the lineup and start the post-Jhonny Peralta era in Motown.
If the Indians were ever going to go away, it would be because the Tigers put them away. If they let them linger, the Indians could very well surprise them late in September.
With all of the implications faced, all of the scenarios shown, and the Battle all but ready to begin, just what will happen in these next four days?
They’re going to split the series right down the middle and keep the status quo.
While the Indians do have the advantage in this series – Detroit has to lose sometime, right? – winning three or four against Detroit might be impossible. They’re that good.
The Indians should gladly take a series split, especially with their 3-9 record against the Tigers so far in 2013.
If indeed they split, the Tigers will have missed their opportunity to put the Tribe away, while the Indians will have done their job and continue to lock themselves right in the midst of the Divisional race.
They will also have done enough to keep fans around the ballpark and eliminate the games at which 14,000 show up to the Jake.
While the series won’t sway the standings in favor of either team, if the Indians can salvage a split, I think they’ve essentially won.
The Tigers only goal is to stamp out the Tribe. The Indians only goal is to avoid being stamped out.
If the Indians are still in the race by the end of this series, they did their job while the Tigers failed to do theirs. In my book, that is a victory for the good guys.
With all of that said, I am so excited for the next four days.
This is exactly what Tribe fans hoped for at the beginning of the season. Meaningful baseball in August and September. No more, no less.
Well, here it is: a four-game series between two of baseball’s biggest rivals, the winner gaining a big advantage towards gaining the AL Central crown.
The reigning American League Champions against a renaissance team that has come back from the shadows of multiple late-season collapses.
A chance to keep the good times rolling in Comerica versus a chance to bring the magic of the 1990’s all the way back to downtown Cleveland.
You know the commercials with Tito Francona, Nick Swisher, and Jason Kipnis. You’ve undoubtedly seen them on TV.
“This is a Tribe Town.” utters the less-than-lively Kipnis, seemingly the opposite of his true self.
“Cleveland is a baseball town. This is a Tribe Town.” says Francona, quite convincingly.
“This is O-H-I-O and THIS is a Tribe Town.” beams the ever-loud, always vibrant Swish.
This series is their chance to prove themselves right.
This is their chance to prove that Cleveland, Ohio, in the year 2013, is in fact a Tribe Town.
Let’s go Tribe!