As the calendar edges out of August and into September, the Cleveland Indians remain alive for a post-season spot in the American League.
Some doubt that the Tribe can hang in there for either the Central Division crown or one of two wild card spots that will go to the best two teams that don't win their division.
But the fact remains that entering a 6-game road trip that began Tuesday night in Atlanta, the Indians were just two games out of that second wild card spot with a 70-59 record. And those 70 wins represent more than the Indians collected all of last season.
While the road trip didn't get off to a positive start with a 2-0 loss to the host Braves and the Indians lost ground to both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A's, with 32 games left, even the most negative of all fans has to admit that being that close to qualifying for one of those five AL post season spots must admit there is still a solid shot for the Tribe.
Elliott Johnson provided the game's only runs with a 2-run triple in the second inning off loser Danny Salazar to give Atlanta starter Alex Wood all the offense he needed. The Indians drew five walks and had six hits but were unable to score on Wood and the Braves bullpen that included a scoreless ninth from Craig Kimbrell
Counted out a number of times since the All-Star break, the Indians must survive this road trip that includes a pair of 3-game series with the teams that entered the week with the best records in baseball.
Cleveland will follow its visit to Atlanta against the Braves with the best record in the game with a 3-game set at Detroit, where the Tigers will try to put the finishing touches on an outstanding year against the Indians.
Detroit, defending AL champs, has a 13-3 record against the Indians and hope to not only wrap up an outstanding year against Cleveland, but put more distance between the Tigers and Indians in the AL Central race. The Indians remain 5-1/2 games behind the Tigers with both losing on Tuesday night.
The remainder of the Braves-Indians series will see Cleveland use Justin Masterson against Paul Maholm on Wednesday and conclude the 3-game interleague set on Thursday when Tribe right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez faces Kris Medlen. All four of these pitchers have at least nine wins this season.