The Indians quietly slipped behind the Chicago White Sox and into third place in the American League Central late yesterday when Chicago finished a sweep in Seattle, putting the White Sox a half-game ahead of the Tribe and six games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers as the season enters its last month (with the month counting from August 29-September 28).
Cleveland of course needs to be aware of any team that is ahead of them, but also they need to worry about taking care of their own business, and that business continues on Monday at 7:05 when the Oakland Athletics come to town to start a four-game set at Progressive Field.
The Athletics are stumbling along at 60-73, in third place in the American League West and 15 games behind the Texas Rangers. But with that being said, the visitors cannot be overlooked just because they are below .500.
After all, this entire 11-game homestand is against sub-.500 teams, and so far, the Indians are only 3-4 with one series remaining.
The Tribe will send David Huff to the hill to get this series underway, and let's hope that we don't see the Huff who started on August 20 in Detroit. Huff (1-2, 2.70 ERA) was rocked in that game to the tune of five runs allowed in only 2.1 innings of work in a game the Indians eventually lost 10-1.
Huff has faced Oakland twice in his career, going 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 frames, but this will be his first outing of 2011 vs. the A's.
The visitors will go with Brandon McCarthy (7-6, 3.72 ERA). McCarthy will also be making his first appearance of the year against tonight's opponent, but he has had some success vs. Cleveland in the past. In 15 appearances, including seven starts, McCarthy is 6-2 when facing The Good Guys, albeit with a high 5.01 ERA in 46.2 innings worked.
McCarthy has won his last two starts for Oakland, and since July 4 he is 6-1, so as usual, the Tribe needs to figure out a way to get the bats going.
Luckily (it would seem), McCarthy is a right-hander, unlike yesterday's starter for Kansas City, Bruce Chen.
The series will continue with 7:05 games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, before wrapping up with a 12:05 game on Thursday afternoon to usher in September.
Cleveland leads the season series 2-1 after playing the Athletics in Oakland from May 3-5.
Ex-Indian Coco Crisp leads all players for Oakland with 100 or more games played with a .267 average, while Josh Willingham leads in both homers and RBI with 23 and 79, respectively.