It won’t be a repeat of 2013 for the Cleveland Indians, who ran off 10 straight wins to capture the top wild card spot in the American League and hosted a 1-game playoff with the Tampa Bay Rays.
While in contention most of the year, the Indians were unable to duplicate that end of season win streak.They were given every opportunity to sneak into the playoffs, as the Oakland A’s staggered to the finish line. But without a big hitter in the lineup, the Indians wasted a number of outstanding pitching performances including Corey Kluber, who will be on many Cy Young Award ballots when they are counted next month.
Entering his final start on Friday, Kluber has a 17-9 record with a 2.53 ERA and with 258 strike outs, is the first Tribe pitcher with at least 250 punch outs since Sam McDowell turned the trick in 1970.
Now it is on to the final three games with only one Oakland win of a Cleveland loss ending the Tribe playoff hopes. That final three games begins Friday at home against Tampa Bay, another team with playoff aspirations that fell short of reality this season.
What the Indians must hope for is to not be embarrassed at the box office with very small crowds for what will be meaningless games should the A’s win another game. And as is the case many times in Cleveland, there is a built-in excuse, with the games against Tampa not having playoff implications. Many will turn to that as a reason to not show up for another Indians team that will at the very least post a winning record. Others may say that they would rather attend a Browns tailgate in a week where the Browns are relaxing with a bye week and others will say the tickets cost too much.
Be that as it may, the 2014 baseball season which will see Cleveland third in the American League Central, is one that showed that the Indians were able to put together a very good pitching staff but were unable to get their bug guns to produce on offense. Gone from the line up was the big paycheck of Nick Swisher, who can claim bad knees for his poor season. While Carlos Santana put up big power numbers to go with a Major League best walks total, the former catcher-turned first baseman was never the guy to turn to when the Indians needed to put together a winning streak.
One final Dollar Dog Night on Saturday will give the Indians a decent crowd but the one to watch is Sunday. Typically the worst date of the weekend all season long, there is great anticipation to see how many really show up at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario on the final day of the season.