Indians continue tear; Yankees inch closer to Sox; Rangers move within 2 of WC spot
By Chad Thornburg
The Indians continued their historic run Monday with yet another victory, pushing their winning streak to 19 games, one shy of the American League record set by the A's in 2002.
On Sunday, the Nationals were the first to claim a division crown by clinching the National League East, and the American League Central title could be the next domino to fall. Cleveland's magic number to win the AL Central is down to six, meaning the Indians can wrap up the division as early as Thursday.
Here's where the rest of the playoff picture stands heading into today:
American League East
The Yankees remain perched atop the Wild Card standings, four games in front of the Twins, but New York still could challenge Boston for the AL East down the stretch. The Yankees beat the Rays, 5-1, on Monday in the first of three games relocated to Citi Field in Queens due to Hurricane Irma. It was the Yankees eighth victory in 11 games, bringing them within three games of the Red Sox.
AL Wild Card
The Rangers improved their standing amid a crowded AL Wild Card race with a 5-3 win against fellow postseason contenders, the Mariners, at Globe Life Park. The Rangers are now just two games behind the Twins for the AL's second Wild Card spot. The idle Angels are one game behind Minnesota. The Mariners, meanwhile, fell to 3 1/2 games back with their 10th loss in 15 games.
"I think we're just a bunch of resilient guys," Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields said. "We're just playing for each other. I know we've had kind of an up-and-down year. But it's not how you start, it's how you finish."
The Rangers also benefited from two other Wild Card contenders losing Monday. The Orioles (3 1/2 games behind the Twins) fell to the Blue Jays, 4-3, in Toronto, while the Royals (three games behind the Twins) dropped their matchup against the White Sox, 11-3, at Kauffman Stadium.
National League Central
Coming off a crucial three-game sweep of the first-place Cubs, the Brewers stumbled in their series opener against the Pirates, losing 7-0 at home. With the loss, Milwaukee dropped to third place (2 1/2 games back) in the division behind the Cardinals, who were off Monday. The Brewers trail the Rockies by four games for the NL's second Wild Card spot.
NL Wild Card
The Rockies and D-backs opened a four-game series Monday that could serve as a preview of the Oct. 4 NL Wild Card Game. Colorado narrowly won, 5-4, cutting Arizona's lead for home-field advantage in the one-game playoff down to four games.
The Indians' winning ways have vaulted them to the top of the AL standings, and with the Dodgers trending in the opposite direction -- they've dropped 11 consecutive games after Monday's loss to the Giants -- Cleveland (88-56) has an opportunity to catch Los Angeles (92-52) for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
"We're riding on some kind of high right now," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said. "It's amazing."
The Dodgers must also fend off a challenger within their own league in the Nationals (88-55), who were off Monday, but have won seven of their last nine games.
If the postseason began today ...
AMERICAN LEAGUE Wild Card: Twins at Yankees Division Series: Wild Card at Indians, Red Sox at Astros
NATIONAL LEAGUE Wild Card: Rockies at D-backs Division Series: Wild Card at Dodgers, Cubs at Nationals
2017 POSTSEASON SCHEDULE AL Wild Card Game (1-game playoff): Oct. 3 NL Wild Card Game (1-game playoff): Oct. 4 AL Division Series begins (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format): Oct. 5 NL Division Series begins (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format): Oct. 6 AL Championship Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 13 NL Championship Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 14 World Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 24
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.