Sometimes the numbers get things wrong.
On Aug. 14, the Indians were said to have worse than a 1 in 5 chance in making the playoffs.
Skeptics, for which Cleveland sports have bred countless of, understood and embraced these odds. An improved team, sure, but maybe the Indians were still a year or two away from greatness.
More ardent fans pointed out that the Indians were still just three games back of a Wild Card spot and six games back of the division with over a month to go is tough to overcome, but not impossible.
But the numbers seemed defendable. The Tribe slumped in early August, pushing the team into third place in the AL Central for a stretch. The reality is predicting a team can go on crazy-good stretch runs is a lot simpler when the team in question doesn’t seem to be going through a late-season collapse for the second straight year.
When the postseason probabilities were published on Aug. 14, the Tribe was hitting .218 in that month. A six game deficit seems like an insurmountable hill with those numbers.
Also of note was that it looked to be a crowded race. Had Cleveland sat comfortably in third place in the Wild Card standings, that would be one thing. But Cleveland was pitted against Tampa, Baltimore, New York, Kansas City and the eventual divisional loser of Texas or Oakland. That’s six teams for two spots, with Cleveland three back of second place.
At the time, an 18 percent chance seemed to make sense.
Well, here we are. Cleveland is putting up it’s feet tonight as Texas and Tampa face off in Game 163, a play-in game to the Wild Card play-in game. Losing Wednesday’s game offers little solace to anyone, but the Indians made the playoffs, this after losing more than 90 games last season.
The Indians went 2-4 against the Rays, with two of those losses coming in the first weekend of the season. The teams last met in early June, when the Rays came into Cleveland for an uneventful series win (2-9, 5-0, 3-11 scores). That final loss began an eight-game losing streak for Cleveland as part of a 4-16 stretch from May 24 to June 10.
Texas is a different story. The Tribe went 5-1 against the Rangers, including a sweep at Progressive Field in late July. After an 11th inning walkoff in game one, the Indians shutout the visitors in the next two games. In three games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the Scott Kazmir lost the first game before Corey Kluber and Ubaldo Jimenez won 5-2 games the following days.
All this could mean something, or could easily mean nothing. It’s a one game playoff, a snapshot, a do-or-die. But for Cleveland fans, what it for sure means is a chance again for some October glory. They’ll have to wait until Wednesday night.