August 23, 2007

Hanging In

It's August 23rd, and the Cleveland Indians are still in first place.

I scoffed at Eric Wedge's April prediction that it would take 100 wins to take the AL Central this year, but halfway through the schedule, at 49-32, the Indians were on a pace for 98 wins. But then they limped into the All Star break, and have lost their collective hitting eye ever since. Now they'll have to go 20-16 over the final 36 games to reach 90 wins. Most fans I know are moaning about the Tribe's failure to capitalize on the Tigers' even worse slump. But the two teams' slumps have been different.

The Indians starting pitching has continued to be pretty solid throughout the dog days, while Detroit's starters have gone off the rails. Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook especially have picked up the team while they weren't scoring runs for C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, the two leading lights of the first half. And now that Sheffield is hurt and Granderson slumping, the Tigers don't look like quite the mashers we've seen the last two seasons.

This weekend, the Tigers play the Yankees in one of those series that you relish, because one of the two teams competing with the Tribe for a playoff spot has to lose every game. In a perfect world, the Yankees would sweep the Tigers just before heading into a tailspin of their own.

Meanwhile, with the Indians sitting on a 2.5 game lead going into a weekend in Kansas City, Tribe fans with a sense of history are waiting for bad things to happen. That's sad, I know...but conditioning will do that for you.

Posted by dan at August 23, 2007 11:00 PM