The Indians have a gleam*
What a week for the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe finished off a 7-0 homestead on Thursday by beating the Chicago White Sox, 6-1. It was a week that included back-to-back shutouts of the Texas Rangers, two walk-off home runs against the White Sox and an eighth-inning rally to defeat Chicago.
By sweeping the homestand, the Indians have now won 11 in a row at home and their 37-19 home record is the best in the American League.
It’s enough to make us think this Tribe team has something special in store for Cleveland over the final two months of the season.
A week ago, the Tribe came home following a disappointing 2-6 road trip 3.5 games behind Detroit in the A.L. Central and 3.5 games back in the wild card. Now, after winning their eighth consecutive game, the Indians head to Miami for the weekend just two games behind the Tigers and no worse than a half-game up on Baltimore and Texas in the wild card standings.
The Indians have done it behind solid starting pitching and timely hits up and down the lineup.
Every night it seems as if someone else steps up with a big hit. If it is not Jason Giambi hitting a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth, it’s Ryan Raburn homering twice and driving in four runs.
It is kind of amazing to think that the same front office that last year gave us Casey Kotchman, Johnny Damon and Shelley Duncan somehow built a bench this year that includes Giambi (who we would still rather see as a coach than a player but who is making the most of his chances), Raburn and Mike Aviles.
“I think every one of our position players, and everybody in the bullpen, they know when they show up at the ballpark, whether they’re starting or not, that they have a chance to help us win a game – and I think that’s good,” manager Terry Francona said on the team’s website.
As for the pitching, the starting rotation has worked 85.2 innings since the All-Star break, posting a 2.10 ERA and striking out 71. That continues a streak that saw the rotation, during the month of July, win 15 games, post a 3.45 ERA, strike 188 and hold opposing hitters to just a .226 average. That is the best stretch of pitching from the Tribe in a single month since August of 1968, i.e., a long time ago. (h/t @MLBastian).
The Indians now head to Miami to take on the woeful Marlins. Before the start of this seven-game stretch against the White Sox and Marlins, we would have been happy with a 5-2 mark. The Indians have four wins already, so 6-1 should not be out of the question.
After Miami the Tribe returns home to face Detroit for four games that could potentially be the biggest series the team has played since 2007.
All year long the Tribe has struggled to convince itself and its fans that this team is for real.
If they take care of business this weekend, next week they will have the best chance they have had all season.
(Photo by The Associated Press)
*Yes, we know that having the gleam refers to the Browns in the 1980s. But it has been so long since we’ve had anything good to talk about in Cleveland sports that we are co-opting it for the Tribe.