Monday, September 3, 2007

Tribe starts crucial 10-day trip against Johan

The Tribe begins a three-city, 10-game trip today that could either put them well along the path to a division title, or put them back in a scramble with the Tigers.

CC Sabathia will open this trip in Minnesota against Johan Santana - a great indicator of just how tough the next ten games will be.

On the trip, the Indians will play three in Minnesota, head off for four in Anaheim and finish up with three in Chicago.

If the Tribe manages a split of those ten, they could be in pretty good shape when they come home mid-month.

Here's how the numbers stack up against Detroit.

First of all, using the most simplistic barometer, if Cleveland (78-58) wins just half of their remaining 26 games, they would finish the year at 91-71. Detroit, currently at 73-64, would have to win 18 of their remaining 25 games just to pull even at the finish line.

Current records aside, the Tigers clearly have an easier go of it schedule-wise.

The Tribe plays 17 of its last 26 games on the road. Detroit is at home for 16 of its last 25.

The Tribe still has two series - eight games - on the West Coast, in two separate trips. The Tigers are done out west.

Cleveland plays 11 games versus concenders (Minnesota is not counted here). Eight of those 11 are on the West Coast - four each against Los Angeles and Seattle. Detroit has only six games against teams still vying for the playoffs - three of them at home against Seattle.

In the only head-to-head matchup remaining, Cleveland will host the Tigers for three games starting two weeks from today.

Both teams have 15 division games remaining. Each team has one doubleheader and the Tribe has three days off while the Tigers have four.

In putting the two schedules side-by side, the key period is the next 10 days. While the Tribe is toiling away on the road against the Twins, Angels and White Sox, the Tigers host the White Sox, Seattle, Texas and Toronto (1 game).

Unless the Tribe does a complete folderoo on the road, the Tigers would have to win 7 or 8 of their 10 home games to put a decent dent in the Tribe's lead. It's the Tigers best remaining chance to erase the Tribe's 5 1/2 game advantage. Five wins on this current trip should at least keep the Tigers on the defensive as the head-to-head meeting looms.

Now, having said that, why is it the Red Sox six-game lead over the Yankees seems much safer than the Tribe's 5 1/2-game bulge over the Tigers - except to my Yankeeland friends and neighbors of course, who still publicly maintain the Sox are easily catchable?

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