It’s been a great season for the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe’s rebuilding phase proved to be ahead of schedule as the Indians were the class of the division in the first half and were legitimate contenders as late as August. Clevelanders had grown accustomed to baseball misery, but for several months this summer they had something to believe in.
But whatever hope Tribe fans may be clinging to could end tonight.
The division-leading Detroit Tigers’ magic number to clinch the division is 2. That means that two Tiger victories in their last 13 games; two Indians losses in their final 16 games; or a Detroit win and a Cleveland loss will give the Tigers the division title. In other words: it’s pretty much in the bag.
That number would be to clinch an effective tie for the division—in the unlikely event that the Indians go 14-2 and the Tigers don’t win another game, both teams would finish 87-75 (it could also end up 86-76 or 85-77)—but the tiebreakers would give it to Detroit. The teams still have three-game series to play so Cleveland could theoretically close the Tigers’ 9-6 season series gap, but the Indians cannot overcome Detroit’s superior intradivisional record (46-21 to the Indians’ 28-30).
The Indians play the Texas Rangers tonight, while the Tigers play a late game in Oakland. A win for Cleveland or the Athletics would keep the Tribe alive for another day, but if Detroit and Texas both win—that’s it.