Tuesday, 1 October 2013
Cleveland Indians should ignore the critics, they earned their wild card spot
There are complaints about the Tribe's schedule?
I don't want to hear it.
I'll tell you about the schedule -- after 162 games, the Indians have a record of 92-70. They earned a wild-card spot in the playoffs.
Ninety-two victories. They did it the hard way, by ending the season on 10-game winning streak against the White Sox, Astros and Twins.
I don't care if they played three teams from the North Pole, the Indians had to win all 10 of those games to win the wild-card spot.
Ten games in a row, all packed with pressure. Ten ways to mess up, 10 different days where Tribe fans probably had to fight off the feeling that somehow, their team would blow it.
I don't care that the Twins, White Sox and Astros had the three worst records in the American League.
If the Indians finish 8-2 in the last 10 games, their season is over. They needed all 10, and they won all 10. And in seven of those games, Tribe pitchers held the opposition to two or fewer runs.
They needed a 21-6 record in September, and they needed to do it without All-Star starter Justin Masterson (injured) and closer Chris Perez (fading).
They needed Ubaldo Jimenez to turn into an ace, which he did with a 4-0 record and 1.09 ERA in the season's final month. He had an 1.82 ERA after the All-Star break.
They needed Michael Brantley to be Mr. Clutch, and they needed Jason Giambi's dramatic ninth-inning pinch-hit homer.
They needed a game winning hit from Matt Carson (think about that for a moment), and they needed Nick Swisher to lead the team in homers (13) and RBI (32) after the All-Star break.
They needed Bryan Shaw to have a 5-0 record and throw 11 1/3 scoreless innings in September.
They needed Yan Gomes (who knew?) to turn into a young Ray Fosse or Sandy Alomar after the All-Star break.
They needed Danny Salazar to pull a Jaret Wright of 1997, opening the season at Class AA Akron and ending it pitching pressure games in Cleveland.
They needed Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Joe Smith, Cody Allen, Corey Kluber, Scott Kazmir, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs … and I know I'm forgetting somebody.
They needed Matt Albers (11 scoreless innings in September) and Marc Rzepczynski (0.83) in the bullpen.
They needed everyone to finish the season winning 15-of-17, and they needed the experienced hand of Terry Francona to keep the team focused.
How else does a team go from 68-94 to 92-70 in one seasons?
They did it with no one winning 15 games. No one hitting 25 homers. No one driving in 90 runs.
They really won all these games as a team -- a baseball example of the whole far exceeding the parts.