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Week Ahead: Clinching parties to continue

MLB.com @DougMillerMLB

The stunning recent events during this already-unforgettable Major League Baseball season have fans' heads spinning with questions. Just a few come to mind right away.

How historically good are these Cleveland Indians, who won 22 consecutive games to set an American League record?

The stunning recent events during this already-unforgettable Major League Baseball season have fans' heads spinning with questions. Just a few come to mind right away.

How historically good are these Cleveland Indians, who won 22 consecutive games to set an American League record?

Which Los Angeles Dodgers team will we see in October: the juggernaut that won 90 games before it lost 40, the one that recently lost 11 in a row, or the one that rebounded to win four of the next five after that?

While we're at it, who's going to win the AL East, the National League Central and the remaining Wild Card slots?

Fortunately, the week ahead happens to be the one in which we officially enter late September, so we're getting answers almost every inning.

On Sunday alone, we learned that the Houston Astros have won the AL West, the Chicago Cubs have won six in a row to get closer to their second straight division crown, the Dodgers are very close to putting an exclamation point on their inevitable division title, and we're in for a whale of a final two weeks with those aptly named Wild Cards.

In the AL, Monday brings a three-game series with the exact Wild Card Game matchup and venue that would occur if the season had just ended. The Wild Card-leading Yankees will host the team currently occupying the second Wild Card slot, the Minnesota Twins, for a three-game set that couldn't come at a more intriguing time.

New York, after all, is still alive for the AL East title, trailing division-leading Boston by only three games.

"We're on a nice little run right now," New York third baseman Todd Frazier said. "We understand what we're capable of, and we get runs by the bunches. It's been a lot of fun to watch and be a part of."

Video: MIN@NYY: Santana set to face Garcia in New York

Meanwhile, Minnesota isn't exactly a shoo-in for a Wild Card spot. They're only two games up on the Angels for that coveted second berth.

"It could be a really good experience for a lot of these young guys," Twins catcher Chris Gimenez said. "It's a good experience, because emotions run when there is energy in the stadium like that. You have to be able to continue to slow the game down and do what you have always done."

The Red Sox have six games on the road this week, visiting Baltimore from Monday through Wednesday and Cincinnati over the weekend.

The Angels get Monday off before embarking on their biggest challenge of the year: series in the heat of the pennant race against the two best teams in the AL.

The Angels play host to the Central-champion Indians from Tuesday through Thursday before heading down to Houston for three over the weekend.

Video: Must C Clutch: Upton's two homers carry Halos

 According to slugger Justin Upton, they wouldn't want it any other way.

"Every game means a lot to us right now," Upton said. "So any time you can contribute to the win and send us in the right direction, it's fun."

The Brewers will be trying to echo Upton's sentiments this week. They enter the week ahead with a four-game deficit to the Cubs in the NL Central and they're 2 1/2 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the second Wild Card spot.

In other words, this week is the most important seven-day period of the year for manager Craig Counsell and his club, which has a grand opportunity to make serious waves in the standings.

Video: MIL@PIT: Suter set to match up with Taillon

The Brewers travel to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates from Monday through Wednesday, but Thursday to Sunday is the main event. They'll return to Miller Park and get four games against the same Cubs they're chasing.

Not that they're circling that one on the calendar, though.

"We're in a position where we can't afford to look at the big picture," Counsell said. "You look at the next day. We know every day is vitally important.

"Where we're at in the standings is really forcing us to look at not getting too far ahead of ourselves."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.