The Cleveland Indians are the hottest team in baseball, and the odds the Chicago Cubs make it back to the World Series are on the rise as well.
Back in spring training, it would have been surprising to almost no one to say the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs would trending toward a World Series rematch at the beginning of September.
The Cubs were flat out dominant in 2016, and appeared poised to elevate themselves from one-time champion to MLB dynasty. The Tribe, new owners of the longest World Championship drought in the sport after the Cubs ended their cursed run of loveable losing, were just as stacked in 2017 as they had been the previous season. More so, actually, following the offseason acquisition of slugger Edwin Encarnacion and with hotshot prospect Bradley Zimmer waiting in the wings.
Of course, unexpected challenges from Milwaukee and Minnesota made the early months of the 2017 season far more difficult than expected for the Cubs and Indians, respectively. Chicago spent 69 days looking up at the Brewers in the standings, and Cleveland found themselves behind the Twins for 50 days in the first half.
The Indians finally took control of the AL Central, and have built a nine-game lead over the AL Wild Card contending Twins during their current 11-game winning streak. Though the Cubs are still in danger from the Brewers, Chicago enters the first full week of September with a 3.5-game lead after posting a 31-16 record since the All-Star break, including a 6-1 run last week.
Both teams shook off slow starts – potentially as a result of a World Series hangover – and are building momentum for the postseason. With the Los Angeles Dodgers looking strangely human (highly vulnerable, even) after losing six of seven games last week, the odds have increased dramatically for Chicago and Cleveland to face off again in the Fall Classic this season.
American League East
Boston Red Sox (77-60, .562, – GB)
Last Week: 3-0 at Blue Jays, 1-3 at Yankees
- Home Record: 40-25
- Road Record: 37-35
- Runs Scored: 649
- Runs Allowed: 568
- Run Differential: +81
- Streak: Lost 2
- Last 10: 4-6
New York Yankees (73-62, .537, 3.5 GB)
Last Week: 0-3 vs. Indians, 3-1 vs. Red Sox
- Road Record: 33-36
- Runs Scored: 704
- Runs Allowed: 567
- Run Differential: +137
- Streak: Won 2
- Last 10: 5-5
Baltimore Orioles (70-67, .511, 7 GB)
Last Week: 3-0 vs. Mariners, 2-2 vs. Blue Jays
- Home Record: 43-28
- Road Record: 27-39
- Runs Scored: 668
- Runs Allowed: 691
- Run Differential: -23
- Streak: Won 1
- Last 10: 8-2
Tampa Bay Rays (68-70, .493, 9.5 GB)
Last Week: 2-1 at Royals, 1-2 at White Sox
- Home Record: 34-33
- Road Record: 34-37
- Runs Scored: 594
- Runs Allowed: 598
- Run Differential: -4
- Streak: Lost 2
- Last 10: 6-4
Toronto Blue Jays (63-74, .460, 14 GB)
Last Week: 0-3 vs. Red Sox, 2-2 at Orioles
- Home Record: 35-34
- Road Record: 28-40
- Runs Scored: 582
- Runs Allowed: 678
- Run Differential: -96
- Streak: Lost 1
- Last 10: 3-7
The Red Sox built their AL East division lead to 5.5 games over the Yankees during the middle of last week following a three-game sweep over the Blue Jays in Toronto. However, the second leg of the seven-game road trip result – a pivotal four-game series in the Bronx – resulted in three losses.
The Yankees opened with a 6-2 win Thursday night, and Doug Fister’s solid performance helped the Red Sox tie the series with a win Friday. However, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino quieted the Boston lineup Saturday and Sunday, respectively, with Severino outdueling AL Cy Young favorite Chris Sale for a 9-2 win to capture the series and close the deficit to 3.5 games.