The Indians head into the weekend with a half game lead in the AL Central and two crucial games remaining in the Blue Jays series before the All-Star break. The first half of the season has been a roller coaster – unexpected success has Cleveland fans back “in the Tribe” and ready for a second half summer of thrills. A brutal June has passed and the Indians are now looking to win their fourth series in a row after that debacle in San Francisco.
To be perfectly trite and Wedge-like, every game is just 1 of 162. But this weekend seems bigger. It would be deflating to enter the break having relinquished a lead in the Central. They worked so hard to build the lead in May with amazing victories and then fight through poor play and a spate of injuries in June to stay up there. There’s some mental component to getting in first and staying out there for nearly the entire season and then losing that title at the break.
Each game increases in importance as a contending season wears on. There will be bigger games after the break – specifically series in the division against the Tigers and White Sox. But with the reliable Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco going today and tomorrow, respectively, the Indians need to get this pair. Brandon Morrow pitches for the Jays tonight – his record and ERA are deceptive. He’s a talented guy who has been crushed at home at the Rogers Centre but he’s undefeated with a 2.79 ERA on the road. He’s also rounding into form and has been dominant in his last four starts with a 3-0 record and 2.81 ERA. Carrasco will face Brett Cecil, who’s been Mitch Talbot-esque this season – a great opportunity for Carlos to bounce back from the tough loss against the Yankees.
After the break, the Tribe has 4 against the pathetic Orioles. But the Tribe needs to get these two this weekend, win our fourth series in a row, and cruise into the break holding that title of first in the division. What do you guys think? Do these games seem bigger? Would it be debilitating to enter the break having lost the division lead?