The Cleveland Indians are only 2 games out of first place, trailing the Detroit Tigers. If someone would have told me that at the beginning of the year I probably would have been happy with it. The Tribe is 12 games over .500 at 43-31. Again, would have been happy with it at the beginning of the year. Cleveland is just 10-12 in June. Ten times they scored 3 runs are less. They won only 2 series and one of those was against Kansas City. Hafner has all of 13 hits in the month, Ryan Garko have been even worse with 9 hits and Trot Nixon has been nonexistent with 7 hits. Only two players on the roster are hitting over .300 and one of them is the back-up catcher (Kelly Shopach hitting .373 and Victor Martinez at .314). The three players with the next best averages aren’t even everyday players – Jason Michaels .294, Franklin Gutierrez .292 and Garko .291. The Tribe is still second in runs scored (5.4 a game), fourth in home runs but only sixth in batting average.
With all that said, the Indians are still only 2 games out of first place. They’re in a better spot than they’ve been since 2001. There’s no doubt the offense has struggled but they are just two games back. So should we be concerned with the lack of offense or should we be happy they are in a pennant race? Being an optimist, I want to just be happy they are in a pennant race, but I can’t. They should still be at least tied for first, like they were when they went into the weekend. Instead they were one Martinez home run away from being swept by the triple-A like Washington Nationals. I can’t see the offense getting any worse. Hafner can’t be slumping this bad all year. Pitchers aren’t giving him anything to hit so he chases after some pitches he normally wouldn’t to try and get something going. He’ll lock in soon. If he gets it going again, the rest of the lineup will follow. He’s the key.
The next week and a half will be very important to how the season plays out. Back-to-back four game home series with Oakland and Tampa Bay lead into a big series at Detroit. The Tribe has to take 5-of-8 from the A’ and Devil Rays at the worse. The Tigers are playing really well. They got Texas and Minnesota before the Tribe. Cleveland can’t afford to fall anymore more than, at the worse, 3 games back before their match up. At least that way, a sweep would tie the two teams up. Of course, the Tigers could come in and sweep the Indians at which point it would be a six game hole and things could be ugly. Not to put a lot of importance on a series in the first week of July, but the July 3-5 series is very important.
The Indians’ bats need to get it together. Thank goodness for C.C. and Fausto and just about the rest of the pitching staff. Hopefully coming home and playing AL teams again will get the Tribe back on track. They are only 2 games out of first, which normally I’d be happy about, but it almost feels like more than that.