Things were going pretty well for the Cleveland Indians with less than a month left in the season. It was Labor Day, and history knows that is when things start to get really serious. Yes, this season is a bit different given that it’s only a 60-game season, but still. The ball club was in fine shape. 

Now, well, things aren’t going so well and we’ll get to that. Let’s set the table. 

Here were the standings after the action on Sept. 7 (Labor Day) in the AL Central, among the 2020 Big Three:

  1. Chicago, 26-15
    Cleveland, 26-15
  2. Minnesota, 26-17, 1 GB

Sure, it was gonna be a dog fight, but with second place a guaranteed spot in the top six AL seeds and the top wild card most likely coming from this division, it felt like the worst one of these three teams could do was the seven seed with the one being possible. 

Things have changed quite a bit in the ensuing few weeks. 

Tuesday, the Tribe dropped a game in walk-off fashion after back-to-back hit batsmen: 

Wednesday, it was a Javier Baez single in the 10th. 

Pitcher Phil Maton’s reaction (around the 1:05 mark of the video) says it all, doesn’t it? 

Circling back to the Labor Day win by Cleveland? It hasn’t won since. That’s eight straight losses. It is the longest losing streak the franchise has suffered since 2013, when it also lost eight in a row. The longest losing streak by the club in the wild card era is 11, which happened in 2012 (via stathead). 

The AL Central now looks like this: 

  1. Chicago, 32-17
  2. Minnesota, 31-20, 2 GB
  3. Cleveland, 26-23, 6 GB

As for the wild card race? With the Yankees’ recent surge, the Blue Jays hold a half-game advantage over the Indians for the seven seed, meaning Cleveland went from being a top-seed hopeful to the final playoff spot in a manner of eight games. The eight spot should be secure, though the Mariners are within striking range if things continue to go this badly for the Tribe. 

Regardless, if things don’t get worked out soon, the playoffs are likely to end up as a two-game sweep against the one seed.

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