With win Monday, Indians would take over a wild-card spot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For six straight weeks, the five teams in playoff position in the American League haven't changed.

The Tigers have led the Central. The Red Sox and Rays have either led the East or held one of the two wild-card spots. Same goes for the A's and Rangers in the West.

If the Indians beat the Royals on Monday night, that changes.

The Indians enter play Monday half a game behind both the Rays and Rangers, who play each other Monday night at Tampa Bay. The loser of that game will be 81-68.

If the Indians win, they'll be 82-68, half a game in front of Monday's Rays-Rangers loser. Even if the Indians lose to the Royals, they'll still be just half a game out of the second wild-card spot.

The last time the AL playoff roster changed was on Aug. 5, when the Rangers passed the Indians for the second wild-card spot. The Indians began September 4 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot, but have won 10 of their first 14 games this month, while the Rangers and Rays have slipped.

The Royals also remain alive, entering play Monday three games behind the Indians and 3 1/2 behind the Rays and Rangers.

If you're wondering the last time the Royals and Indians played a September series that had meaning for both teams, that's easy. It was last week in Cleveland.

Before that? It's hard to say there ever was one before that. The Indians and Royals haven't finished above .500 in the same season since 1994, and the strike kept that season from ever getting to September.

The only other times both teams had winning records the same year were in 1976 and 1979. They played in different divisions then, there were no wild cards, and the Indians weren't in contention.

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