The Cleveland Indians (40-30) continued their dominant ways at home by completely controlling and destroying the Tampa Bay Rays (31-38) by a 6-0 count behind a complete game shutout from Corey Kluber. The Indians continue to show the rest of MLB that they will completely handle any mediocre team in the league as they clinched yet another series victory with a chance to sweep the Rays following the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship parade.
The game itself featured an inside-the-park home run by Jason Kipnis (technically ruled a single and three base error) as the emotional leader of the Tribe continued his five game hit streak, and Kip has found his way onto the basepaths in 17 of the 19 June games thus far. And, Juan Uribe hit his fourth home run in the past four games (this one back-to-back with Jose Ramirez's blast in the eighth). Heck, even Yan Gomes got into the act by going 2-for-4 with a double.
Did the Cavs championship change anything for Indians?
But, few are concerned with the present even though winning games now helps ensure that winning games in October remains a possibility. The Cavs winning a championship doesn't technically shift the odds or change anything for the Indians. The Indians are the same extremely good team with some obvious flaws they were before Game 7. Michael Brantley's shoulder is still hurt. The bullpen still only has a few reliable arms. And, the dominant rotation is just a month removed from Cody Anderson and Michael Clevinger being in it and struggling.
Except, it sure feels like winning a World Series is a better possibility today. The Indians are only 70 games into a 162 game season, yet people are willing to discuss October now. Worries from past teams such as 2012 that saw the Indians remain over .500 through August just to fall apart are a lifetime ago. Thoughts of the past three seasons under Terry Francona finishing above .500 yet with only a solitary playoff game (2013 AL Wild Card game) seem just the necessary building process towards this season now.
Simply put, the conversation has changed dramatically this June.
Part of it has been the collapsing Chicago White Sox (35-36) who early on promised to run away with the AL Central only now to appear to be the incredibly flawed team that was expected to finish near the bottom of the division. The conversation has been helped by the consistent mediocrity of the former Tribe-killing Detroit Tigers (36-35) who have not been able to compensate for the continual departure of their best pitchers over the years. The defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals (38-32) still loom, but the champs are not the impossible puzzle they were a year ago.
Of course, the Indians have helped bolster confidence in their ability to win the AL Central division by going 21-10 against their divisional foes. And, the only team with which the Tribe has somewhat struggled to conquer are the bottom-feeding Minnesota Twins (22-48) who pose no threat towards postseason goals.
Sure, the Indians have only gone 7-11 against the elite teams of the American League outside of the division. However, the Indians continue to improve especially as the rotation tightens their death grip on hitters. And, Francona teams tend to build up to a strong finish.
But, more importantly, the Cavs championship has allowed a feeling of belief to sweep itself across the city of Cleveland. Stipe Miocic won the UFC heavyweight belt, the Lake Erie Monsters won the Calder Cup, and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Larry O'Brien trophy. So, why can't the Indians win a World Series title?
Tweets on Cavs championship from Indians past and present
Always good to hear from Kenny Lofton.
I agree with Kenny.
Jason Kipnis was ready for Game 7.
And, Carlos Carrasco gives us an inside look at his final moments before Cleveland was crowned champions.
And, Kipnis celebrated with us afterwards.
Seems like Mike Napoli is all aboard as well.