Can the Cleveland Indians Put Their Regular-Season Struggles Against Contenders Behind Them During the Playoffs?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Hopefully, the Cleveland Indians develop amnesia prior to next week's American League playoffs.

Even though the Indians are headed toward 90 wins this season and a probable wild-card berth, there is still one huge hurdle they will have to overcome in the playoffs.

That is their lack of success against the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Tampa Bay Rays -- likely to be three of the AL's other four playoff teams come October.

In 2013, the Tribe managed to win just seven of their 32 games played against these three teams. That is just a .219 winning percentage in what amounts to roughly 20 percent of Cleveland's games this season. Thankfully, the Indians have gone 82-45 against the rest of baseball this year. That translates into a dominant .646 winning percentage, which is the main reason why the Tribe are in playoff contention during the final week of the 2013 regular season.

Cleveland was just 1-6 against Boston in 2013, but the last meeting between these two teams was way back on May 26. The Tribe are a way different team now than the erratic group that was the definition of streaky during the first half of 2013. Therefore, it's difficult to gauge how a much more confident Tribe team would fare against the Red Sox if they were to meet in the playoffs.

The same could really be said for Tampa Bay. The Indians and Rays only faced each other six times this season, with Tampa Bay winning four of these matchups. But, like Boston, the Indians have not played the Rays in months -- the last game between the two teams took place on June 2. Regardless, if the two teams do face other in the wild-card round of the playoffs, previous losses against the Rays will probably be the furthest thing from the minds of Cleveland players.

The Detroit Tigers are a different story.

Cleveland's lack of success against the Tigers this season has been beyond frustrating for Tribe faithful. Numerous series with Detroit began with the Indians well within striking distance of first-place in the AL Central, and each time, the Tribe were thoroughly trounced by the Motor City Kitties.

An early-May series that saw the Tribe take two of three from the Tigers was the only bright spot in a season that saw Detroit rack up a remarkable 15-4 record against Cleveland. Detroit's 6-0 mark versus the Tribe during the month of August basically ended any hopes the Indians had of winning the AL Central in 2013.

Should the Indians have to face Detroit in the playoffs, it's going to be a classic David versus Goliath matchup -- let's just hope Cleveland brings its slingshots this time.

Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Indians for over 25 years.

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