The Cleveland Guardians defeated the Texas Rangers on Sunday (box score), extending their winning streak to seven and clinching the American League Central title . The Guardians technically secured their first division title since 2018 when the Chicago White Sox lost to the Detroit Tigers -- the Guardians entered Sunday with a nine-game lead over the White Sox and with 10 games left on the schedule, making the clinch an inevitability.
Cleveland can credit a few different players for the win on Sunday, including rookie outfielder Steven Kwan, who slugged a grand slam en route to collecting three hits and five runs batted in. Starter Aaron Civale, meanwhile, held the Rangers to two runs on three hits over the course of five innings.
The Guardians had dominated the Central from 2016-18, reeling off three consecutive division crowns. The years since haven't been as kind, as they'd finished second or worse in the last three years. This marks their first playoff berth of any kind since the pandemic-altered 2020 campaign that featured a bloated postseason bracket.
It's worth noting that the Guardians are the youngest team in the majors when weighted by playing time, according to MLB.com's Sarah Langs. They're just the eighth club to make the playoffs while owning that distinction, and the first since the 1986 New York Mets.
Cleveland, which will likely be the No. 3 seed in the AL postseason bracket, can celebrate after Sunday's results, but the mood was more somber in Chicago. White Sox acting skipper Miguel Cairo railed on his club's effort following Sunday's defeat. "That's not acceptable. That's not baseball," he told reporters, including James Fegan of The Athletic. Cairo is serving in place of Tony La Russa, whose medical concerns will keep him out for the rest of the year.