CLEVELAND -- On Thursday night at Progressive Field, the Indians' remarkable winning streak extended to 22 games thanks to Jay Bruce's walk-off double in the 10th inning against the Royals.• Gear up for October: Buy Tribe postseason gearBut a few hours after the thrilling 3-2 victory -- after the players
CLEVELAND -- On Thursday night at Progressive Field, the Indians' remarkable winning streak extended to 22 games thanks to Jay Bruce's walk-off double in the 10th inning against the Royals.
• Gear up for October: Buy Tribe postseason gear
But a few hours after the thrilling 3-2 victory -- after the players and coaches had left the clubhouse and the lights at the ballpark were turned off -- some exciting news broke for the American League Central-leading Tribe.
With the win over the Royals and the Astros' late-night victory over the Angels, the Indians officially punched their ticket to the postseason.
"We never want to rely on anyone else to make sure things are taken care of," Bruce said. "But we've put ourselves in position by playing well all season to have some of that happen."
Although the Tribe will be playing playoff baseball for a second straight season, some players were not aware that the team had clinched a postseason berth until they woke up on Friday morning.
"That's what I've been hearing," reliever Dan Otero said. "I don't know about everybody else, but I personally was not aware of that [Thursday night].
"I noticed it this morning when I pulled up [Indians.com] on my phone and it said, 'buy your postseason gear.' And I was like, 'We're already selling postseason gear?' And then it explained that when the Angels lost last night, we clinched a postseason berth. So that's pretty cool."
The Indians are the first team in the AL to clinch a playoff spot this season, and only the second team in the Majors to do so. The National League West-leading Dodgers ensured their trip to the postseason on Tuesday with a victory over the Giants.
While the Indians' magic number to clinch the AL Central dropped to two despite Friday's 4-3 loss to the Royals, the players realize they have an opportunity to celebrate a division title in front of the home fans.
"I think it would be really cool," Otero said. "Last year, every time we clinched was on the road. We unfortunately couldn't clinch at home there at the end of the season, so I think it will be really neat for the fans. It's not something that we are really thinking about right now, but we all kind of know that it's close. We're getting there."
Last season, the Indians clinched the division in Detroit and home-field advantage for the AL Division Series against the Red Sox in Kansas City. In the postseason, the Indians won the ALDS in Boston and clinched their trip to the World Series in Toronto before losing Game 7 of the World Series to the Cubs at Progressive Field.
"It would be great to do it in front of the fans," Bruce said. "Obviously, I only have been here a short amount of time. But the time that I have been here, this has been an awesome place and the fans have been great. They've been nothing but the most supportive, and really have added an element to the season."
Bruce said the team securing a playoff spot during this 10-game homestand is a product of the incredible winning streak. Despite this, he noted that there is still work to be done.
"We still have a lot at stake," Bruce said. "It's one of those things where we have an opportunity to still catch the Dodgers [for best overall record and home-field advantage in the World Series]. We're a couple games up on the Astros. We have to play well, because home-field advantage is important."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.