It has come down to this: The Indians will play what will probably be their last important game of the season on Thursday night when they take on the Rangers in the conclusion of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas.
After tonight, here is the lineup for the next week and a half — Minnesota for three, Seattle for one, Chicago for four, and Minnesota for four more.
Now it may be that when the Tribe finishes the season in Detroit, the Tigers will have some positioning issues as far as playoff seeding goes, but assuming that most everything will be wrapped up by the time the Tribe arrives in Motown…tonight’s game really is about it, as no future opponent besides Detroit has even a whisper of a hope to be in the postseason.
Speaking of the Tigers — if the Indians fall to Texas tonight and Detroit wins in Oakland, the AL Central will be clinched.
To the game at hand: Fausto Carmona will try to avoid losing his 15th game when he takes the hill to face Alexi Ogando in the 8:05 contest. Carmona has not won since August 17, and after winning twice in April, has won just once in May, June, July and August.
Carmona has faced Texas twice this year and is 0-1, although the Indians did get the victory in his last start vs. the Rangers on August 6. In 12.2 innings of work in 2011 against Texas, Fausto has allowed six earned runs, and is 2-7 in his career with a hefty 5.16 ERA in 61 frames against the Rangers.
On the other side of the ledger, Ogando (12-8, 3.71 ERA) shined in his previous outing against the Tribe this season. On June 3 Ogando went eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits while striking out six in an 11-2 Rangers’ win at Progressive Field.
It may be worth noting that — despite his 12 wins — Ogando has not triumphed since August 15, going 0-3 in five appearances in the last month.
So we have a couple of pitchers trying to get their act together, and that is something worth watching for Indians fans, since their is little other motivation left. Meanwhile, the motivation for the Rangers is a bit higher -- Texas leads the Angels by only three games in the West, and should they fall behind Los Angeles, it is doubtful (in face, almost impossible) that they could at the same time claim a Wild Card.
After tonight’s contest the Tribe will head to Minnesota to begin a three-game weekend set. After that, Cleveland has only three more road games, and we already know where, and when, those will be.
A loss tonight would drop the Indians to a season-high (or low) three games under .500.