Guardians make the most of their two-day mini-vacation: Paul Hoynes

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Perhaps the AL Central really is the division no one wants to win. The Guardians, Twins and White Sox have been unable to impose their will on each other long enough to take a substantial lead.

But the Guardians may have stumbled onto something the last few days — stop playing.

Their game against the White Sox on Sunday was postponed because of wet grounds and heavy rains at Progressive Field. You can blame the new sod that had to be planted after the Elton John concert, but if things work out the way they want, the Guardians may give the Rocket Man a playoff share.

The Guards, after being weathered-out on Sunday, had an off-day Monday as they flew to San Diego to open a six-game West Coast trip. In those two days, their lead went from one game to two games over the Twins and from 2 1/2 games to three games over the White Sox.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.

The Twins lost to Texas on Saturday, Sunday and Monday in a wrap-around series at Target Field. They went 2-for-26 with runners in scoring position in the four game series. They also watched talented, but fragile center fielder Byron Buxton leave Monday’s game with a tight right hip. Right-hander Tyler Mahle, acquired at the deadline from Cincinnati to help the rotation, is on the injured list with a sore right shoulder after being forced out of his third start since the trade.

The White Sox, after leaving Cleveland with a split in the two games that were played, lost to the Royals on Monday. The Royals, if you haven’t been keeping track, are 50-74.

Minnesota has been the dominant team in the division this year. They’ve held first place for more than 90 days and on June 1 held a 5 1/2 game lead. Since then they’ve gone 32-36.

The Guardians tied them on Aug. 9 and moved into sole possession of first place the next day. They have gone 8-4 since. But in the process of running down the Twins, they won 10 of 15 games.

Mother Nature has had a lot to say about the Guardians’ season. They have already played 10 doubleheaders. Bad weather caused nine and COVID caused the other. They’ve gone 9-11 in those double dips with one left to play — Sept. 17 against the Twins — if the elements don’t interfere again.

The schedule as it stands now won’t allow a repeat of this mini two-day vacation for the Guards. They’ll have a day off Monday when they return from the West Coast. In September, they’ll have just two scheduled days off — Sept. 8 an Sept. 26. They lost a third off day, Sept. 15, when the team announced Tuesday that they’d makeup Sunday’s rainout against the White Sox on that day.

Whatever comes the G’s way from here on out, they’ll have to earn. The generosity of the Twins and White Sox has been much appreciated, but the three contenders have hardly seen the last of each other. Come September, the Guardians will play the White Sox four times and the Twins eight times. That includes a five-game series from Sept. 16 through Sept. 19 against the Twins at Progressive Field.

After that comes a three-game visit to the south side of Chicago to end their season series against the White Sox. Those eight games could very well determine the AL Central champion.

If not then, how about the final six games against the Royals at Progressive Field? A young team which will have been eliminated by then against an even younger team trying to do something totally unexpected.

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