While the attention of a lot of fans has obviously shifted to the Browns, the Indians still have 13 games left to play in their attempt to finish the season on the plus side of .500 and in second place in the AL Central. And hey, the Tribe has yet to be eliminated in the Wild Card race, so that is a good thing, yes?
Okay, okay, one loss or a Boston win and The Good Guys are out. But even so, when this season began, it would have sounded good that the Indians were still not eliminated from postseason contention on the morning of September 18.
On Sunday at 2:10 the Tribe goes for a sweep in Minnesota against the Twins, who are trying very hard to accomplish their own goal. Even if that goal has...shifted a bit...since the season began.
In April the Twins were looking to win their third straight division title. In September, the Twins are trying to avoid losing 100 games.
Minnesota (59-91) has lost seven straight to make losing a hundred games possible, and Justin Masterson will try to run that streak to eight when he takes on ex-Indian Carl Pavano.
Masterson (11-10, 3.20 ERA) has lost his last two starts, and has given up 10 earned runs in 11 innings in the process. In fairness, one loss was to the Tigers and the other was to the Rangers. Even so, Justin will want to turn that around and get back to the kind of pitching that would have had him in contention for a Cy Young Award with any decent offensive support.
Masterson has never beaten the Twins. For his career he has made 11 appearances, including eight starts, and is 0-4 with a 3.56 ERA vs. Minnesota. Those number right there bespeak a lack of support.
Folks, a 3.56 ERA over eight starts, in the hitter-friendly American League, should have been good for a win somewhere.
In his last start against Minnesota, Masterson worked 7.2 innings, gave up just two runs -- and still had a no-decision, albeit in a game the Indians won 3-2 on August 12 in Cleveland.
Pavano also has eight starts against today's opponent, but has fared better, going 3-2 with a nice 2.53 ERA vs. the Tribe in 57 career innings.
Pavano last faced Cleveland in that August 12 game, and he also did not get a decision, going 7.1 innings and allowing 10 hits, but only one earned run.
The Indians will come home after today's game and will play a make-up game against the Mariners tomorrow at 4:05 before the White Sox come to town on Tuesday to begin a four-game set with a day/night doubleheader. Then the Twins go to Cleveland next weekend for a four-game series that also includes a day/night doubleheader on Saturday.
And that will wrap up the 2011 season at home before the Tribe goes to Detroit to truly finish up with three games.
Let's get to .500 again today. .500 feels so much better than...well, than below .500.
And hey, the Indians have a two-game lead on Chicago for second place! Have to protect that lead, yes?