CLEVELAND -- For once, the Indians will be able to open their season at home without worrying about below-freezing temperatures and snow on the ground.
On Monday night, the Indians’ official 2020 schedule was released on MLB Network with Opening Day scheduled for July 24 against the Royals at 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the regular season was shortened to 60 games and will end on Sept. 27.
The Tribe will play 40 games against American League Central opponents (10 games against each team) and 20 against the National League Central. Based on the win-loss totals of all teams last season, the Indians have the second-easiest schedule (.451) trailing their division rival, the Twins (.449). However, Cleveland will have to play 17 consecutive contests to start the season without a day off.
“Putting together a schedule under normal circumstances is really difficult to do, and under these circumstances, it’s even more difficult,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “We certainly had preferences and shared some thoughts with the league, but realized how difficult it is to accommodate every team. We have to be prepared specifically to play 17 straight games right out of the gate, which will pose a challenge for us. But that’s something our players and staff are preparing for.”
Let’s take a deeper look at the Tribe’s 60 matchups:
The Indians will open the year with a six-game homestand, beginning with the Royals from July 24-26 and ending with the White Sox from July 27-29. Although the White Sox finished under .500 last season (72-89), the Tribe struggled against Chicago, going 8-11. Cleveland fared better against Kansas City, posting a 12-7 record.
The Indians will return home on Sept. 21 to face the White Sox in a four-game series before closing out the regular season with a three-game set against the Pirates from Sept. 25-27. The Tribe will take on Pittsburgh more often than any other NL Central opponent, having six matchups scheduled, including a three-game series on the road from Aug. 18-20. The Tribe went 1-2 against the Pirates when they last played in 2018.
The Ohio Cup
The Ohio Cup will return in 2020 with a four-game, home-and-home series against the Reds from Aug. 3-6. It’ll be the Indians’ first opportunity to face Trevor Bauer, who was sent to Cincinnati at the Trade Deadline last year. The Tribe will travel to Great American Ballpark for Games 1 and 2 and host Games 3 and 4. In 2019, the Tribe went 3-1 against the Reds, outscoring Cincinnati, 22-11.
The remaining Interleague games will be against the Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers. The Cubs will come to Cleveland on Aug. 11 and 12, and the Indians will play at Wrigley Field on Sept. 15 and 16. Cleveland will travel to St. Louis for a three-game series beginning Aug. 28, but will not host the Cardinals. Likewise, the Indians will host the Brewers for three matchups from Sept. 4-6 but will not go to Milwaukee.
The biggest challenge for the Tribe will be grinding through the first 17 games with no day off. From there, the schedule eases up in August, but the club will have another hurdle at the end of the regular season with a nine-game road trip in 10 days in the middle of September against the Twins, Cubs and Tigers. They will play 13 consecutive games to close out the year.