Cleveland Indians Clinch Wild-Card Spot as Rays and Rangers Force Playoff

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent ISeptember 29, 2013

The Cleveland Indians clinched the franchise's first playoff berth since 2007 on Sunday, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-1 in Minneapolis to end the season on a 10-game winning streak and earn one of two American League Wild Card spots, per senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal on Twitter:

However, the Indians will have to wait for their opponent, as both the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers won on the final day to force a one-game playoff for the final Wild Card spot.

First baseman Nick Swisher homered to left field in the second inning to score Michael Bourn and put the Indians up 2-0 early. After a pair of sacrifices, Carlos Santana's seventh-inning double inflated Cleveland's lead to 5-0.    

The Twins would narrow the gap in the bottom of the seventh, but were unable to rally.

The victory means that Cleveland will play host to either Tampa Bay or Texas in a winner-take-all Wild Card game on Wednesday night at Progressive Field, per MLB on Twitter:

Cleveland has already named Danny Salazar as the starter for that all-important game, via Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.

The winner will advance to the ALDS to play the Boston Red Sox, who won the AL East for the first time in six years in 2013. If the Indians were to advance, it would mean a reunion for Terry Francona, who was fired after Boston's historic collapse in 2011.

There was a three-way race between Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Texas for the two AL Wild Card spots coming into the final day of the regular season on Sunday, but Cleveland secured a berth and home-field advantage in the AL Wild Card Game by winning its 92nd game of year.

The Indians, who went 21-6 in the month of September, haven't been to the postseason in six years, last making the playoffs in 2007 as the winners of the AL Central. They beat the New York Yankees in the divisional series that year before going on to lose to the Boston Red Sox in an epic seven-game series in the ALCS.


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