All season, I have treated "division" like a four-letter word when talking about the Indians. Any talk about catching the White Sox was useless since they seemed to follow every two-game losing streak with a five-game winning streak.
The Indians have repeatedly ebbed and flowed between an 8- and 15-game deficit for most of the season. The logical goal was the wild card, a race the Indians took the lead in almost two weeks ago.
But a funny thing has happened on the way to the top of the wild card standings. Those White Sox, orbiting the American League like Major Tom for most of the year, have suddenly re-entered the atmosphere. And they keep falling.
Two losses in three games to the Royals, combined with two wins in three games for the Indians, have shaved Chicago's AL Central advantage to 4 1/2 games with just over two weeks to play. It's still a pretty large deficit, but considering the Indians, winners of nine in 12 this month, play the slumping Sox six times in the season's final two weeks, the Indians might be primed to make a run at their first division title in four years.
You wanted a showdown with the Sox? You got it. Three at U.S. Cellular Field next week, and three at Jacobs Field to end the regular season, could either pull the Indians in front, or put them away for good.
Those six games against Chicago are part of 13 divisional games in the season's final two-plus weeks. Cleveland also faces the Royals seven times, starting tonight at Jacobs Field.
You remember how bad the Indians were in the division earlier this year? They've started to beat up on the Central the way way the White Sox did from April to August. Cleveland has won 16 of their last 18 within the division, including seven in a row. The Indians were so pitiful prior to that, the recent hot streak has raised their overall divisional record to a mere 32-30, The Plain Dealer reported today.