Things have not been going that well during the early season for the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians until the past few days.
The Indians lost last Wednesday to Tampa Bay that ended a disappointing 6-game home stand at 2-4. Following a day off on Thursday, the Indians on Friday were just 20-19 and a game behind AL Central leaders the Minnesota Twins.
Once Sunday night arrived, the Indians had swept the AL West leading Houston Astros outscoring them 16-9.
Cleveland now sits at 23-19 and is in first place one half game ahead of the Twins.
It is far too early to focus on the division standings, as the Indians still have 120 games left during the regular season, but being back on the top of the AL Central, if nothing else, is good for the ego.
The sweep of Houston is a very good accomplishment as the Astros have been the best team in baseball over the first month and a half of the season. Even with three straight losses over the weekend, the Astros have the best record in baseball at 29-15.
The streak could be the start of something good for Cleveland as their upcoming 14 games will be against rather weak opponents including the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals.
Of course on any day during the long 162-game season any team can beat another, but the Indians will have 14 consecutive games against teams with a combined winning percentage of just .453.
The starting pitching is beginning to return to form. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco remain out but their injuries are healing and both will return soon. Danny Salazar allowed only 3 runs on Sunday and the rotation now has an ERA of 4.96, which is not great but without its No. 1 and No. 2 starters Kluber and Carrasco they are hanging tough.
Offseason free agent signing Edwin Encarnacion is beginning to get hot at the plate. During his first seven weeks with Cleveland he hit just .199 but on Sunday was 2 for 4 including a double and over his past five games is hitting .263 with 5 hits in 19 at bats.
The Indians’ 2017 started very slow but it appears after their strong sweep of the Astros this past weekend, they are getting back to form.
With the rather weak schedule in front of them, look for Cleveland to pile on some wins and take over control of the AL Central.