What is left for the Indians to play for?
No matter how many of the last 13 games they win, they will not induce the fans to visit Progressive Field next year. Neither can they significantly improve their place in the standings nor come close to finishing .500.
But they can reach for one goal: They can ensure a top five draft pick for next June. The Tribe has not drafted that high in years. Jeremy Sowers was a sixth-overall selection in 2004. But you have to go back to 1992 to find a Cleveland draft choice among the first five. Paul Shuey was the No. 2 pick that year.
It will be almost impossible for the Indians to lose enough games to claim such a valuable prize, even if they fail to win another game and end the season with 100 defeats. But the Tribe ought to be able to hold its position and has a chance to move up.
The battle for the basement in the Central Division between Cleveland and Kansas City should go down to the wire. Whoever finishes last probably will pick fourth at worst.
And while Washington and Pittsburgh are in a class of their own when it comes to losing records, the Tribe has a chance to lose more than Baltimore. That could mean the third choice in next year's lottery.
But there's always a catch. Indians players don't care where the team picks in the draft. After all, if the Tribe selects a player with superior talent, he might take away the job of a current player in two or three years.
BACK IN THE RACE -- It's been months, if at all, since the Indians could lay claim to having a chance to play in the postseason, but tonight the Tribe can be part of the race.
The Tigers come to Progressive Field for three games, trying to hang onto their dwindling lead in the Central Division.
Having lost two of three to the Twins over the weekend, Detroit's margin has shrunk to three games. Can the Indians do something to diminish it further, and will playing a contender jerk the Tribe out of its malaise?
""I don't know,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""The way we played on this trip, we didn't put ourselves in a position to win games. We got down early and never could come back.''
The Tribe, losers of eight in a row and 17 of the past 20, were swept by the Twins in the Metrodome. Moreover, the Tigers hold an 11-4 advantage in the season series.
""We haven't been playing good baseball,'' Trevor Crowe said. ""I think everybody is frustrated.''
The Twins face one another four more times in Detroit to end the season.
MELOAN ON LOAN? -- What happens to pitchers discarded by the Indians?
One of them turned up in Oakland on Sunday, John Meloan, who started the season at Columbus. Since then, Meloan has been on an odyssey that has taken him to three other franchises, which usually is not a boost to a player's career.
The Tribe traded Meloan to Tampa Bay July 2 for reliever Winston Abreu, but after making 10 appearances at Triple-A Durham, Meloan was released. He was claimed on waivers by the Pirates, staying in the Pittsburgh organization long enough to pitch six times at Triple-A Indianapolis before he was released again.
The Athletics claimed Meloan on waivers Sept. 2, and he was sent to Triple-A Sacramento, where he made only three appearances. All of this was prelude to making his first 2009 big-league appearance, against Cleveland on Sunday.
How did he fare? Meloan gave up one unearned run, one hit and one walk in two innings, striking out three.
OTHER STUFF -- The Tribe was swept in a four-game series for the first time since July 17-20, 2003, against the Yankees. It was the first time ever that the Indians had lost a four-game set at the A's ballpark .... In his past five starts, Fausto Carmona is 0-4 with a 10.72 ERA. His batting average against over this span is .373. ... Since starting his major-league career, Michael Brantley has reached base in 17 of 18 games. ... Jhonny Peralta is on an 0-for-21 skid.