CLEVELAND -- Just over a week ago, the Indians snapped an eight-game losing streak -- a skid that caused them to fall from the top of the postseason standings to the bottom. But now that the Tribe has clinched a playoff berth, the club is proving that it's not impossible for it to climb back up in the rankings.
The Indians shifted into the No. 4 seed on Friday night, which would match them up against the team that finishes as the fifth overall seed. In order for Cleveland to move higher up in the rankings, it would have to move into the top spot in the American League Central. With two games remaining in the regular season, it's not impossible.
How close this division race has become with less than a week remaining in the season raises the question: What happens if there’s a tie?
If the Indians ended in a two-team tie for either first or second place in the division, the first tiebreaker would be the head-to-head record between the two teams. The Indians have already secured a winning record over the White Sox this year, but they would lose the tiebreaker to the Twins, having lost seven of 10 games.
But what if there’s a three-way tie? If the Twins, White Sox and Indians are all knotted at the top of the division leaderboard on Sunday, the tiebreaker becomes each team’s best combined record against the other two clubs. In this case, the Twins would take first place, the Indians would take second and the Sox would earn an AL Wild Card spot.
How? The Twins have gone 12-8 against Chicago and Cleveland this year, which would give them the edge should this scenario arise. The Indians have gone 11-9 against the other two teams, which is second to Minnesota. The Sox would then drop to an AL Wild Card spot with a 7-12 record.
The Indians tied the White Sox for second place on Friday night and moved to one game behind the Twins in the AL Central. Because Cleveland holds the tiebreaker over Chicago, the Tribe moved into the No. 4 seed in the postseason standings, which would secure home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs before the AL Division and the AL Championship Series are played in Southern California.
Tito to enter bubble
The Indians do not expect manager Terry Francona to get back in the dugout before the regular season ends on Sunday, but he will enter the bubble with the Tribe so that he may still be an option in the postseason.
“He continues to recover,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “He will be in the bubble with us, so he’ll be in the quarantine. That preserves as many options for us as possible moving forward, and then also gives Tito an opportunity to be around the team, even if it’s not in the dugout.”