Entering this season, the Cleveland Indians were considered a contender for the AL Central crown. Instead, they’re heading into the final week trying to avoid finishing last for the first time in 18 years.
Cleveland will try to create some separation in that dubious race Monday night in the opener of a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians (64-91) finished last season at .500 after winning 32 of their last 49. That surge made them a trendy pick for their second division title in three years.
Cleveland, however, hasn’t come close to being that competitive, and is 6-20 since Aug. 30. The Indians have a one-half game lead on last-place Kansas City, which has finished at the bottom of the Central four times in five years.
The Indians have one game in hand on the Royals, and close out the season with a four-game series at Boston next weekend. Kansas City begins a three-game set at New York on Monday before visiting Minnesota, which could be looking to win the Central title.
The Indians haven’t finished last since posting a franchise-worst 57-105 mark put them at the bottom of the East in 1991.
Cleveland maintained its slight lead on Kansas City on Sunday, beating Baltimore 9-0 to complete its first sweep since winning all three games at Seattle from July 24-26.
The left-hander is 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in six starts, losing his last four with a 6.04 ERA while getting just three total runs of support.
Laffey didn’t get any supporting runs Tuesday, as he yielded one run in 6 2-3 of a 3-1 loss to Detroit.
“You have to give 100 percent focus on every pitch,” Laffey said. “No matter who you face, you want to win.”
He’s 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA in five games - four starts - against the White Sox (75-81). He lost his last meeting against them July 8, allowing four runs in six innings of a 5-1 defeat.
The White Sox are coming off Sunday’s 8-4 win over Detroit, taking two of three from the division leader.
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 3.82 ERA in his last five trips to the mound, and was hit hard in Tuesday’s 8-6 loss to Minnesota. He surrendered seven runs and eight hits, including a career high-tying three homers, in six innings after allowing just one run in 14 innings over his previous two outings.
“What are you going to do?” Danks told the White Sox’s official Web site. “I could sit here and say I threw a bunch of good pitches and I just got hit. That’s just not the case.”
Danks is 1-5 with a 5.63 ERA in nine starts against the Indians, posting a 10.54 ERA in losing his last three.
Chicago has won eight of 15 meetings with Cleveland, including a three-game sweep at Progressive Field from June 29-July 1.