Indians need to take advantage of Houston series.

The Tribe has stayed in the hunt all season, but they’ve fallen on their faces several times when they’ve had a critical series. The Detroit sweep comes to mind right away, but it’s happened many times.

Then of course they bounce back just when everyone is ready to write them off.

But now the Indians have Houston coming to town and they’re just a half game out of the Wild Card. They need to win at least three games in this four-game series. A sweep would be ideal of course. Then they have the White Sox and the Twins to finish off the season. It’s all set up for them, but they have to step up and grab it.

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Tribe stays in the hunt

It seems like the Indians have blown the season on numerous occasions – most spectacularly by getting swept at home by Detroit and then most recently by getting swept on the road in Atlanta. But this team keeps coming back and hanging around.

Justin Masterson is hurt, but now Corey Kluber will be back to possibly save the day as the starting pitching is keeping the Tribe alive.

Baseball is a funny sport, and despite all of their problems the Indians would have a shot if they manage to get into the playoffs. We’re all obsessed with the Browns right now, but I’m not giving up on the Tribe yet.

Indians give up on Mark Reynolds

Mark Reynolds got off to such a great start for the Indians that many fans were clamoring for the Tribe to sign him to a long-term contract earlier this season. Then reality set in a Reynolds went a month without getting an RBI.

The Indians designated Reynolds for assignment today, effectively giving up on the slugger for 2013. Meanwhile, they locked up Ryan Raburn with a contract extension earlier in the week. The obviously feel Raburn can continue to provide power from the right side of the plate, and they couldn’t afford to wait for Reynolds to rediscover his stroke. That’s even more true as the Indians continue to scuffle against the Tigers.

Tribe All-Stars from 1994

With all the pain we’ve suffered as Cleveland sports fans, the 1994 baseball strike doesn’t get mentioned as often. We all remember the incredible Indians team from 1995 that won 100 games in a shortened season. But that young team was coming into its own in 1994 and was poised to make the playoffs. That Indians team was robbed of a chance to make the World Series and possibly win a title for Cleveland. Check out this photo of the Indians All Stars posted by SI Vault and you’ll be reminded of the incredible team that was denied by fate.

Francona plays the long game and gets burned

Practically everyone in Cleveland loves Terry Francona, and for good reason. His hiring signaled that the Dolans were finally serious about fielding a competitive team again, and the flurry of moves that followed led to the competitive roster we have now.

We’re also learning to appreciate Francona’s style. He’s a players’ manager, and he also preaches patience. And he know what he’s doing, so in most instances his approach plays dividends. Early in the season many fans wanted to cut Ubaldo Jimenez and move Jason Kipnis down in the lineup. Now Kipnis is on fire and Ubaldo is at least showing flashes of his old, All-Star form. Patience is a virtue with Francona. He understands that it’s a long season.

But, no manager gets it right all the time, and every approach sometimes fails you, at least in the short term. Yesterday’s meltdown in Boston was one of those days. Chris Perez didn’t have it. As we know now, he was hurt, but in his desire to be there for his teammates he basically let them down by blowing an easy 3-run save opportunity. But more blame goes on Francona, who seemed much more concerned with supporting his closer than winning the game. But in the end he lost the game and probably made things even worse for Perez, who will have nightmares after this outing.

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