CLEVELAND -- The Indians did their part with an 8-4 win over the Royals on Saturday afternoon, and with the Blue Jays beating the Twins hours later, Cleveland secured its second straight American League Central title.
The team won't get to pop champagne and celebrate with each other until after the game on Sunday, but the party will be especially sweet because the defending AL champs didn't get to celebrate any of their accomplishments last season at Progressive Field. There will also be a pregame flag raising in center field and manager Terry Francona will address the crowd.
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"We did it in Detroit. We did it in Boston. We did it in Toronto," said Carlos Carrasco, who earned his 16th win on Saturday. "This year, I'm glad we're going to do it here."
The Indians became the first AL team to clinch a postseason spot on Friday and are the second team to clinch a division after the Nationals. A month ago, few thought Cleveland could clinch this soon, but an AL record 22-game winning streak that ended on Friday has pushed the club to the top of the league.
"That's what we're supposed to do, and that's what we talk about all the time," Francona said. "To be the team we want to be, we have to value what it takes to win more than other teams, which is hard to do. If everybody did it, everybody would win. And everybody doesn't. It didn't take a winning streak to make me feel that way."
If the standings hold, the Indians will have the top seed in the AL and host the winner of the Wild Card Game. Currently, the Yankees and Twins have pole position for the two spots, and the Indians have a winning record (5-2 and 10-6, respectively) against both teams.
Of course, clinching the division isn't where it ends. The Indians are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Astros for the top AL seed and 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the Majors and home-field advantage for the World Series. Thirteen games remain in the season.
The AL Division Series starts on Oct. 5, with the Indians hosting the first two contests before going on the road for Game 3 and potentially playing Game 4 on the road and Game 5 at home on Oct. 11. All games will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 or MLB Network.
The Indians' recent surge has capped off an incredible season that follows up their World Series run in 2016. Once again, the club has been led by incredible pitching, as it leads the Majors with a 3.36 ERA, 27.2-percent strikeout rate and 7.0-percent walk rate.
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"If you have talent, you have to out-earn by valuing what it takes," Francona said. "Because if you have talent, you have a chance to do some pretty special things. You don't want it to come to you, you keep going and try to put people in the rear-view mirror. That's the best way to do."
As strange as the muted celebration for the clinch is, it's almost fitting for a team that knows that bigger celebrations lie ahead. And now it's guaranteed that the Indians will be able to celebrate with their fans after Sunday's game, win or lose.
"The fans are here every day to support us, and we're trying to do this for them," shortstop Francisco Lindor said. "This is for them."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.