Fresh off their third straight series win, the Cleveland Indians are beginning to come alive in the middle of May. Sitting two games below .500 (18-20), the Tribe are heading into a harsh patch in their schedule facing the Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels for a total of 33 games. Combined, these opponents currently sit at 162-132, with 14 games coming on the road.
Six of the Tribe’s routine starters are hitting .296 or above and eight players’ OBP is .333 or higher in May. In 63.1 innings pitched, the rotation has accumulated an ERA of 2.82, averaging 8.96 K/9 as a group. The horrid defense Cleveland experienced throughout April is beginning to tapper off, but remains a problem to keep a watchful eye on. It seems as though John Axford has been displaced from the closer’s role just in time for the gauntlet the Indians will go through starting tomorrow night in Eastern Canada.
The upcoming series against the Toronto Blue Jays (18-20) could also fit into the category of hard competition despite being losers of their last three games. Toronto has the best differential (+11) in the AL East, tied for second in the AL in runs scored with 187. Jose Bautista has the Tribe’s number hitting .316 against Justin Masterson (6-for-19) and 2-for-6 against both Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar.
Some could argue that the rest of the way out will host a number of obstacles for manager Terry Francona’s team, without a major lull in stiff competition throughout the AL which features strict parity. The Tampa Bay Rays were some folk’s pick to win the World Series and they sit in the cellar of the treacherous East division. Aside from the Houston Astros (12-26), the bottom feeders in each division are still hovering around the .500 mark, proving much work is to be done.