Indians become first team to clinch division crown, winning AL Central by blowing out Tigers

On Saturday, the Cleveland Indians became the first team to clinch a division title and the second to lock up a playoff spot, joining the Boston Red Sox.

Cleveland entered the day 15 games up on the second-place Minnesota Twins. With a blowout 15-0 win over the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland now has just 14 games remaining; the Twins have 15 games left to make up a 15.5 game deficit -- in other words, they're eliminated.

Cleveland took full advantage of an injured Michael Fulmer, hitting two homers against him before jumping on Matt Hall and Detroit's other pitchers. Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger, meanwhile, held the Tigers to one run across six frames. He lowered his seasonal ERA to 3.06.

There's no question Cleveland benefited from a weak division -- it's almost guaranteed to be the only American League Central team to finish above .500. Predictably, Cleveland entered Saturday with the weakest strength of schedule in the majors, according to Baseball-Reference.

Nonetheless, Cleveland figures to be a dangerous team come the postseason. If Trevor Bauer can make a full recovery from a fractured fibula, Cleveland has a chance to trot out a strong rotation, as well as a lineup that features two legitimate MVP candidates in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, and a past winner, Josh Donaldson.

As it stands, Cleveland is expected to play the West winner, likely the Houston Astros, in the AL divisional series. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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