CLEVELAND — Three things can happen for the Indians at the trade deadline, and two of them — selling and standing pat — are bad.
Chasing down the Twins, who won two of three at Progressive Field and lead the division by 6 1/2 games, will likely require multiple reinforcements given that the best chance for a cavalry ride appears to be Corey Kluber coming off a broken arm.
This isn’t a roster that could stand up to the AL's best in the postseason, so there’s a be-careful-what-you-wish-for element to the playoffs if the strategy is not to do anything before July turns to August.
This lineup may not have much more to give if Jose Ramirez doesn't suddenly (shockingly?) turn into the MVP candidate of the past couple seasons.
As an organizational checkup, this post-All Star break series with Minnesota wasn't as bad as it could've been but still was less than reassuring.
The best we can say about avoiding a sweep is that it beats the alternative.
To be fair, there were a few more positives.
We can retire the conversation about the Home Run Derby’s devastating effects on the baseball swing for one. If anything, the All-Star Home Run Derby seems to have put Carlos Santana in the mood.
His home run on a gift 0-2 hanger from Trevor May decided this one in the seventh inning and led the Indians to a 4-3 win.
The save went to Brad Hand, who looked dominant after stumbling into and out of the All-Star game. Only a Jason Kipnis error prolonged a strike-out-the-sides save for Hand, his 24th.
Ramirez hit a run-scoring double down the right field line to give the Indians a lead. They lost only because of a calamitous top of the seventh, which included two hit batter instant replay reviews that went against the home team.
On the first, the MLB review either included camera angles the rest of us didn’t see or was absent a good lens cleaning.
Everything that could go wrong pretty much did and led to All-Star MVP Shane Bieber’s exit from a game he had in his pocket.
“That would’ve been a tough day,” manager Terry Francona said of losing more than the lead. “It was nice (after getting) punched in the stomach (to) come right back there.”
Bieber said he felt “intensity” in the Indians approach after losing the first two games to the Twins.
“A big win,” he said more than once. July is a little early for desperation, but it was palpable.
The victory returned the season see-saw with the Twins to the upswing. So nothing persuasive either way? If you’d rather conduct a division race from behind in mid July than ahead, no, nothing at all.
Believers in the Indians chances love to point out they have a bunch more games with the Twins. That’s the popular rallying cry of the team doing the chasing. But the Twins are no fluke and don’t appear to be spooked by the distant sound footsteps.
With more of those Indians matchups in Minnesota than in Progressive Field, the Twins have reason to like their chances even more.
That the Indians are 6 1/2 in arrears is a rallying cry if only because the alternative Sunday was 8 1/2 and because the lead was once double digits.
The schedule gets soft again the next two weeks with Detroit, Kansas City, Toronto and Kansas City again while the Twins run into the Yankees twice. The also-rans will likely be sellers as the trade deadline approaches, further denting their rosters.
Could the Indians make up another three or four games on the Twins in the next two weeks? It's possible. But if that happens it will only further beg more help from ownership.
There’s certainly time for the Indians. You’d be a fool to say anything different. That’s not the issue.
The issue is whether ownership has the money and the willingness to spend it.