Posted on September 17, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
One day after the subdued disappointment of seeing their 22-game winning streak come to an end, the Cleveland Indians once again have reason to celebrate. The Indians have clinched the AL Central title for the second straight year. Cleveland’s magic number was 2 at the start of the day Saturday. The Indians bounced back to beat the Royals on Saturday. A few hours later, the second-place Minnesota Twins lost to the Blue Jays, sealing the AL Central in favor of the Indians.
Unfortunately, all the Indians players had left Progressive Field by the time the Twins lost and it became official. However, many of the players were able to mark the occasion online.
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— Jay Bruce (@JayBruce87) September 17, 2017
The Indians will have a special flag raising ceremony prior to Sunday’s game against the Royals. Manager Terry Francona will then address the crowd at Progressive Field. Finally, following Sunday’s game, win or lose, the Indians players and coaches will have a chance to pop some real champagne and celebrate their second straight division title.
“We did it in Detroit. We did it in Boston. We did it in Toronto,” said starter Carlos Carrasco, referencing last year’s postseason celebrations. “This year, I’m glad we’re going to do it here.”
Sunday’s win allowed the Indians to clinch the division title with two weeks left in the regular season. But it also eliminated any talk of a let down once their 22-game winning streak came to an end.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do, and that’s what we talk about all the time,” Francona said of the team’s focus. “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.”
The Indians are unlikely to take their foot off the gas pedal. Cleveland currently leads the Houston Astros by 1.5 games for the best record in the American League. For months, the Astros looked poised to finish the regular season as the American League’s best team. But Cleveland’s 22-game winning streak gave them the top spot. If the Indians can hold onto that slim lead over the next two weeks, they will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Such an advantage could prove invaluable in what figures to be a competitive postseason.
After falling one game short of a World Series title last year, the Indians have been focused on getting back to the Fall Classic all season. Clinching the division was just the first step toward getting another chance to win the World Series. The Indians will celebrate that great accomplishment on Sunday. But they are in no way satisfied.
“Our goal is to go out there and win games and make it to the postseason and make it as far as we can in the postseason,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said before Saturday’s clinching of the division. “That’s our goal. It doesn’t matter what I do or what we did in the past.”