If you’re trying to handicap the race for the second American League wild-card slot, don’t spend too much time agonizing over it. Just look at the soft schedule the Cleveland Indians have the rest of the way.
While the Orioles, Yankees, Royals and Rays have winning teams all over their remaining schedules, the Indians have only one series remaining against a winning team – next week’s three-game set at Kansas City. The other 15 games on the Indians’ schedule are against three teams (the White Sox, Astros and Twins) that entered Wednesday a combined 94 games under .500.
That might not seem fair, but it certainly isn’t a surprise. Everyone knew going into the season that it would be very difficult for the Orioles or any AL East team to earn one of the wild-card berths under the new scheduling format because of the top-to-bottom quality of the division, but the Orioles are not complaining about it. In fact, to hear Adam Jones and Chris Davis tell it, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It is what it is,’’ Jones said. “You’re going to finish in your division. That’s the cool part about the East. We knew it going into the year. If we put ourselves into the situation in September, we’re going to play against our own division and beat up on each other. It wouldn’t be as sweet if we beat the Central or the West.”
Davis said that what everybody else does is irrelevant to the job at hand for the Orioles.
“I could care less how everybody else is playing, whether they’re a .500 team or below .500 or have a thousand winning percentage,’’ Davis said. “I think down the stretch it doesn’t matter what other teams do and obviously you have to control what you can control and win as many games as possible. If we don’t win it doesn’t matter what other teams do. Everybody in the big leagues is tough. Anybody on any given night can play like a World Series contender, but at least we know these guys, we’ve seen them, there are no magic rabbits jumping out of hats or anything like that. We pretty much know what they’re packing.”
Jones wouldn’t even rule out running down the Red Sox, though the chances of making up a double-digit divisional deficit with 18 games left to play is just this side of the impossible dream.
“Just imagine if miraculously we’re able to come back and reel off whatever and end up playing the Red Sox within three of the division in the last series of the season,’’ he said. “That could be the craziest series of the season and the scheduling put it that way. That’s the cool part. That’s what you want."