Cleveland Indians Sunday News and Notes: September 29, 2013

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

In today's Extravaganza...well, what do you think we're going to talk about? Today's matchups, the different tiebreaker/playoff possibilities, and expecting the unexpected.

(There will no AL Central News today, as I think circumstances call for a more Tribe-centric post)

Yesterday's Game

Cleveland Indians take sole possession of first wild-card spot with ninth straight win | cleveland.com

Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins - September 28, 2013 | MLB.com CLE Recap

MLB Final Score/Recap: Indians beat Twins 5-1, clinch at least tiebreaker game - Let's Go Tribe

Scott Kazmir ended his amazing comeback season with a quality outing, and the bullpen made sure there would be no late-inning drama. And while the Indians didn't exactly get a lot of hits, they made those they did get count. Carlos Santana's home run got the Indians on the board after being shut down for almost four innings, and Michael Bourn's triple gave them breathing room.

Today's Game

All those wins in September have gotten the Indians to this point. If they win today, not only will they clinch a playoff spot, but will play the Wild Card game at home, no matter what Texas or Tampa Bay does. Until today, the last day of the season, they weren't guaranteed a home game if they won out. And even if they lose, the Indians will at worst play on Monday, though obviously not something that we'd want to go through.

Here's a listing of all the potential possibilities:

1. Cleveland wins:

a) Cleveland wins, Tampa Bay wins, Texas wins

Tampa Bay and Texas play a tie-breaker game on Monday, with the winner playing in Cleveland on Wednesday for the Wild Card game

b) Cleveland wins, Tampa Bay wins, Texas loses

Tampa Bay plays in Cleveland on Wednesday for the Wild Card game

c) Cleveland wins, Tampa Bay loses, Texas wins

Texas plays in Cleveland on Wednesday for the Wild Card game

d) Cleveland wins, Tampa Bay loses, Texas loses

Tampa Bay and Texas play a tie-breaker game on Monday, with the winner playing in Cleveland on Wednesday for the Wild Card game

2. Cleveland loses:

a) Cleveland loses, Tampa Bay loses, Texas loses

Tampa Bay and Texas play a tie-breaker game on Monday, with the winner playing in Cleveland on Wednesday for the Wild Card game

b) Cleveland loses, Tampa Bay loses, Texas wins

Texas plays in Cleveland on Wednesday for the Wild Card game

c) Cleveland loses, Tampa Bay wins, Texas loses

Cleveland plays in Tampa Bay on Wednesday for the Wild Card game

d) Cleveland loses, Tampa Bay wins, Texas wins

Tampa Bay plays in Cleveland for tiebreaker game 1. The winner is the first Wild Card team, while the loser plays in Texas on Tuesday, with the winner of that game the second Wild Card team. If the Indians and Rangers are the Wild Card teams, the Indians will host the Wild Card game, and if it's the Indians and Rays, the Rays will host the Wild Card game.

So only one (2b) of the eight possibilities will have the Indians playing tomorrow, while only one other possibility (2c) does not guarantee that the Indians will play a tiebreaker or playoff game at home.

All three clubs have their ace or co-ace going today. The Indians are going with Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rangers with Yu Darvish, and the Rays with Matt Moore. So I wouldn't count on the Indians losing and still getting in without having to play a tiebreaker game.

Today's Schedule

  • Tampa Bay (-1.0) at Toronto, 1:07 PM (Matt Moore vs Todd Redmond)
  • Cleveland at Minnesota, 2:10 PM (Ubaldo Jimenez vs Scott Diamond)
  • LA Angels at Texas (-1.0), 3:05 PM (Jason Vargas vs Yu Darvish)

So there is the possibility that the Indians will clinch a playoff spot by the time their game is over with. But again, all they have to do to get the best-case scenario (hosting the Wild Card game) is to win today.

Indians News

Don't talk to Nick Swisher about a cream puff schedule: Cleveland Indians insider | cleveland.com

This is the dumbest meme floating around. Yes, the Indians have an easy finish to their schedule, but that's because their schedule was brutal in May and June:

  • May 5-8: Oakland
  • May 10-12: @Detroit
  • May 13: New York (DH)
  • May 14-15: @Philadelphia
  • May 17-20: Seattle
  • May 21-22: Detroit
  • May 23-26: @Boston
  • May 27-30: @Cincinnati/Cincinnati
  • May 31-June 2: Tampa Bay
  • June 3-5: @New York
  • June 7-9: @Detroit
  • June 10-12: @Texas
  • June 14-16: Washington
  • June 17-19: Kansas City

Only TWO teams in that stretch of games (Seattle, Philadelphia) will finish the season below .500. Most of the teams they play during this stretch are either in the playoffs or were in contention going into the final week of play. The Indians will end with a Strength of Schedule in the middle of the pack. So spare me the complaints that the Indians have a soft September schedule.

The DiaTribe: It All Comes Down to this Lazy Sunday

Isn't it crazy how a season of six months of almost daily baseball games is going to be decided by the final game of the year? Granted, the Indians have essentially been playing playoff games for two weeks now, but now it's come down to one game. Al breaks talks about that, the closer situation, and much more in his Lazy Sunday column.

Not Being Afraid To Fall | WaitingForNextYear

Why this year's team has been so special, and an admonish to just enjoy it. Whatever happens from here on out, it's been a great ride.

And finally...

Six months ago, we started the season hopeful but without many expectations. After all, the pitching was a mess last year, and the entire was largely brought back. Ubaldo Jimenez was a mess, Justin Masterson was wildly inconsistently last year, and the Indians were counting on a lot of pitchers either pitching in their first full major-league season (Zach McAllister, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber), or pitchers who hadn't been in a rotation for a while (Scott Kazmir, Brett Myers). It was the lineup that was expected to be the team's strong point.

Well, those expectations were proven false a while ago. I bring this up not to serve as any sort of analysis (there will be plenty time for that later), but to serve as an admonition for today and for whatever remains of the season. Enjoy today's game without any pre-conceived notions as what the Indians will or won't do. You know what will happen if they win or if they lose. But how you get to those outcomes is what makes this game so fun. The Indians are one game away from the playoffs but in precisely the opposite manner in which they were expected to get there.That applies to games as well. The Indians won Tuesday's game against the White Sox because 42-year-old Jason Giambi hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. You don't expect that to happen. We have no idea how today's game will play out, either. But that is the baseball, and that's what makes it special.

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