Thanks to Monday night's win over the Tigers (CLE 7, DET 4), the Cleveland Indians have clinched the 2016 AL Central championship. They came into Monday with a seven-game lead, so the clincher was a mere formality. Now it's official.
A year ago the Indians were a trendy World Series pick, but they fell short of expectations and went only 81-80 on the season. The core of a winning team was in place though. Cleveland has an excellent rotation and prime-aged players all around the diamond.
The Tribe took over first place in the AL Central for good on June 4 and they simply never looked back. The team won a franchise record 14 straight games later that month to really take hold of the division. From that point on they only had to keep pace with everyone else to maintain their big lead, and that's exactly what they did.
With the team firmly in the race, the Indians went all-in at the trade deadline and acquired both Andrew Miller from the Yankees and Brandon Guyer from the Rays. They also agreed to acquire Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers before he invoked his no-trade clause.
Unfortunately, the Indians are dealing with a ton of injuries at the moment. They're without their best player, Michael Brantley, and have been pretty much all season. He's out following shoulder surgery. Carlos Carrasco (hand), Danny Salazar (forearm), and Yan Gomes (wrist) are all hurt as well.
The Rays last went to the postseason in 2013, when they were shut out by the Rays in the Wild Card game. The Indians lost the Red Sox in the ALCS in 2007, the last time they won the division.
The Rangers and Red Sox are currently battling for the best record in the AL, so the Indians will play whichever one of those teams finishes with the worse regular season record.