The Hunt for Red (and Blue) October

As I sit in a library in Louisville between tables of sorority girls that sound like they’re talking about sorority things because seriously who does homework here, the Cleveland Indians are enjoying the end of their last off day of the regular season. The Tribe is sitting pretty and control their own destiny heading into their final two home games at Progressive Field.

A couple of exciting things happened on Monday for the Tribe, like playoff tickets going on sale and the planning of a road trip home from Louisville in the event of an ALDS game in Cleveland. Yes, the tickets are purchased. No, focusing on anything other than Indians baseball is not easy right now. If you haven’t secured your seats yet, head here now and forget reading the rest of this column.

For those that are already joining me for the ALDS in Cleveland, let’s talk about this two-game series with the Chicago White Sox briefly.

First, your probables for tonight and tomorrow. For those who just want the gist, Ubaldo Jimenez is in some kind of groove right now and Chicago’s Hector Santiago isn’t. Tomorrow’s matchup will pit the young Danny Salazar against Dylan Axelrod, whose ERA in his last 10 innings pitched is over 11.

By now, the degree to which the Tribe have owned the Sox this season is not a secret. They enter the series with a 15-2 advantage on the year, and have more than doubled Chicago’s run output in games between the two clubs. Much like the Houston series, this one is a perfect storm for the Tribe as they head down the final stretch of the final stretch. Being on a four-game winning streak never hurts either.

Speaking of Houston, the Texas Rangers started a three-game set in Arlington against the Astros last night. It’s important to keep this series in mind, because just as the Indians have a favorable matchup for the next couple of days, so do the Rangers. They routed Houston last night, and sit just a game back of the second Wild Card spot heading into play tonight.

We’ve touched on it before, but before you sit down to watch the Tribe tonight, take a second to breathe and embrace how great this is to be in contention again. If you feel the need to pack in a huge wad of chaw and chew your jaws into submission like Tito Francona does every night, go for it. You may want to do this, which is totally fine. Maybe you want to make like Nick Swisher and buy $15,000 worth of post-game fireworks for your neighborhood. Whatever pops your weasel.

There are still plenty of tickets available for tonight’s game as well as tomorrow. It could get a little chilly, but that’s just because it’s meaningful baseball in late September. It’s OK that we aren’t really used to it all yet, but expect to see some better numbers at the ballpark over these next couple of days.

Prediction time: Tribe takes both games against the South Siders behind good efforts on the mound from the Dominican Duo (anyone else like that one?). Michael Bourn hits another triple somewhere in there, and Jason Kipnis adds a homer to go along with a pair of multi-hit nights. Tonight, Indians win 6-3. Tomorrow night, Indians win 7-3.

It’s going to be a tight race all the way to the end, but this is what everyone asks for when Spring Training starts in March. The Indians have delivered so far this year, and there’s a sense that this clubhouse has the mix of veteran leadership it takes to finish strong in the last week of the season.

It’s the hunt for Red (and Blue) October, and it’s on.

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