For any team that find themselves at the bottom of the barrel early on in the season, it can be disheartening to except the reality that their chances of making the post season are over. However, in the world of baseball, any team can find the intriguing magic within their roster to bounce back despite any recent hardships they may have endured. Although the disappointing Cleveland Indians are currently in last place in their division and are 7.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers for first, they may have a reason to believe that their chances of being relevant are more realistic than they initially thought.
While the Indians ultimate goal of winning their division may seem bleak now, they are only 2.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins who are currently in second-place. If the Indians can continue to play their style of baseball effectively, they could feasibly become the Cinderella story of their division.
While the Indians have had one of the more erratic seasons in their franchises history, they have been able to consistently score (202 runs on the season, 9th in MLB) while remaining patient when they step up to the plate (.330 OBP, 5th in MLB). However, even with this type of offensive output, the Indians bullpen has struggled mightily, especially against the offensively proficient teams such as the Oakland A’s.
In order to overcome this frustrating discrepancy, the Indians decided to give their inexperienced pitchers a chance to prove their mettle. Although it seemed ill advised at the time given the fact that they were going to battle with division juggernaut Detroit, the Indians knew that they needed to try something new if they were to have any chance at winning this three game series.
While starting pitcher Corey Kluber only had ten starts on the season, he had shown immense improvement from April into May. Sure enough, a revitalized Kluber was able to stifle the Detroit Tigers to just four runs and struck out eight batters for an ERA of 3.43.
Of course after the first two games of the series, the Indians streaky bullpen once again found itself struggling to contain a potent offense that was on the verge of being swept. However, the underrated offense of Cleveland came alive down the stretch thanks to the unwavering determination of left fielder Michael Brantley (.302 batting average and 36 RBI’s on the season).
Brantley’s four hits and 3 RBI’s on the day were critical as it resulted in the Indians coming back from a 4-0 deficit in the 2nd inning while his single in the bottom of the 13th tied the game at 10-10 to set up Hasdrubal Cabrera for the game winning walk off hit.
Yet, even with the Indians miraculous sweep of the dominant Tigers, it’s hard to say how long this team can cohesively click before something mires this teams vigorous spirit.
While the Indians may never be the unconditional favorites to win the World Series, they have a crafty scrappiness about them that makes their intermittent periods of success awe-inspiring. The fact that the Indians were able to sweep a Tigers team that hasn’t lost three games in a row this season proves that this team is capable of winning valiantly against the best when they get into a comfortable groove. If the Indians have learned anything from their miraculous three game winning streak it is that it’s all right to take calculated risks when nothing else works.
When this team feels pressured to perform, they almost always come up short and at times can be downright annihilated. However, when this team plays with a fearless focus, they can take on anybody in the league no matter how elite the oppositions roster may be.
In the end, the Cleveland Indians may have discovered the coveted magic that they need to get back on track within their contested division.
Although the Indians will have to win more than just one decisive series against a great team to get where they need to be, they have at least laid down a workable foundation with which to build upon in the weeks and month to come. Going from worst to the first won’t easy by any means, but if the resurrected Indians can remain patient with themselves while using their instincts to strategically pick apart superior opponents, they could easily work their way up the ladder to compete for a division title.