Towards the end of the Cleveland Indians’ 2013 season there was so much excitement built up that it could have been easy to forget one of the key factors to their hot run at the end of the season. They were playing the lightest schedule of any team in the hunt for MLB postseason at the time. That isn’t something you always hear about in MLB but it was certainly true for the Indians down the stretch. The problem of course came when they had to face a team with a record good enough to really beat them in the Wildcard playoff.
We all know how well that game went for the Indians of course. The Tampa Bay Rays beat them to advance on and play the Boston Red Sox. Even if the Indians were to have had a great night in that wildcard playoff, they still would have lost to the Red Sox. I know that because a continuing problem for the Tribe all season was beating a team that was one of the best in baseball.
They played four of the eventual six division leaders in MLB and went a collective 10 – 36 against them. That includes a 5 – 2 mark against the Oakland Athletics. The big games where during the season it feels like a playoff atmosphere and during the playoffs it feels other-worldly are the games this team has trouble with.
Whatever the changes they make, they need to ensure that they improve their ability to win the big game. If they would have played even .500 ball against the Detroit Tigers, they would have won the division going away and wouldn’t have had to deal with the wildcard playoff game. Fixing this issue might be the one big key to success in 2014.