NEW YORK -- Enough is enough. The Indians know that they can ill-afford to have their recent slide continue much longer. The Tribe's footing in the American League Central has weakened and the time has come to get back on track.
"We need to do it," Indians closer Chris Perez said. "Everybody says, 'When we get out of it ...'. Well, we have to get out of it. It might not be a week, but we have to. You can't have that mindset of, 'We're going to get out of it.' We have to just get out of it. We have to start winning some series."
Entering Monday's game against the Yankees, the Indians had lost nine of 10 games and were just 4-14 in their past 18 games. Over that span, Cleveland saw its seven-game lead over second-place Detroit evaporate, and now the Tribe and Tigers are set to open up a three-game set on Tuesday with first place on the line.
As rough as it has been lately for the Indians, though, the team is quick to remind that there is still one important positive that exists.
"We're still in first place, right?" Indians outfielder Michael Brantley said. "At the end of the day, that's what we look at. But at the same time, we have to win baseball games to stay in first place -- that's no secret. The slide that we're on is tough, but at the same time, it takes mental toughness and a great ability to play this game.
"That's what we need to do. Step it up as a whole team."
This is hardly the first time this Cleveland squad has endured some rough times, either. The Indians lost 190 combined games between 2009-10, and outside expectations were low once again when this season began.
"It's not like we haven't been through tough times before," Brantley said. "Most of these guys were up here last year when we struggled almost the entire season. We had our ups and downs, but it was a lot of lows."
Up to this point this year, there have been more highs than lows for the Tribe.
"If you would've asked anybody in this locker room, 'Would you take being tied for first place on June 13th?,' with our injuries, and losing nine out of 10, I think everybody would say yes," said Perez. "That's all you're playing for -- that opportunity to have that chance. We still have that."