Can Indians be this year's Orioles? Mark Reynolds sees similarities

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

NEW YORK -- The best team ever at winning one-run games was last year's Orioles. The best this year is the Indians.

Mark Reynolds, anyone?

"I see the similarities," Reynolds said.

He's one of the similarities. Reynolds played for the 2012 Orioles. He plays for the 2013 Indians.

Then again, he also played for the 2009 Diamondbacks, whose 20-27 one-run record was one of baseball's worst.

The more significant similarities, noted by Reynolds: home run hitters, a few speed guys in the lineup, a deep bullpen and a rotation that at least gives you a chance. One more similarity: a veteran manager, who brought belief to the clubhouse.

"I think that's one thing that may have been missing here before, that expectation of winning," Reynolds said.

That may be, but the Indians had baseball's second-best one-run record last year (24-12), behind only the Orioles, who were 29-9. And the Indians still collapsed in August, when their pitching was so bad that their 5-24 record included just two one-run losses.

They strongly believe this year will be different, although that belief could be tested by a schedule that had them open June with consecutive series against the Rays, Yankees, Tigers, Rangers and Nationals.

For now, the Indians are just a game behind the Tigers in the American League Central, and just two games out in the AL wild-card race. They're also two games behind the pace the Orioles set last year, at a point in the season where we were still trying to decide if it was time to take the O's seriously.

"Hopefully, we can ride it out here, the way we did last year," Reynolds said.

Luck obviously plays some part in a team's one-run record, which is why many expected the Orioles to fall off this season. Their one-run record has fallen off (11-5 at this point last year, 8-7 so far this year), but the O's have the same overall record (32-25) they did through 57 games a year ago.

Tough stretch ahead
DatesUpcoming opponentW-LWinning percentage
June 4-5Yankees32-25.561
June 7-9Tigers30-25.545
June 10-12Rangers35-21.625
June 4-12Combined97-71.577

The Indians are basically where they were a year ago, too. Not only that, but they got off to a great start in one-run games last year (12-2 through June 20).

It turned out then it didn't mean anything. It turned out that the Orioles' early success did mean something.

Can this year's Indians become last year's Orioles?

At least there's one similarity. Both teams had Mark Reynolds.

 
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