With Divison Title Locked Up, Indians' Focus Must Turn to Home-Field Advantage
Saturday provided nothing more than a formality for the Indians: they officially clinched their second straight AL Central title.
What's yet to be decided and could prove to be just as important is home-field advantage. Now that the All-Star Game no longer dictates which league hosts four games in the Fall Classic, home-field advantage is up for grabs through the World Series for the team that finishes with the best record in baseball.
If Cleveland can stave off the Astros—who trail the Indians by 1 1/2 games for the AL's top record—the Indians will be guaranteed home-field advantage through at least the ALCS. The Dodgers' 11-game losing streak coupled with the Indians' 22-game winning streak also opened a window for Cleveland to unseat LA as baseball's winningest team, but things have normalized over the past few days. The Indians streak ended and the Dodgers have now won four in a row.
Why might home-field advantage be important for the Indians? Last year they skated past the Astros and Blue Jays in consecutive postseason series with home-field advantage. They were in a similar spot against the Cubs too, holding a 3-1 World Series advantage with Games 6 and 7 to be played at Progressive Field. While that didn't work out for the Indians, the team is 3-1 in postseason series (not counting the one-off 2013 wild-card game) in which they've had home-field advantage dating back to 2007. The Indians' 44 wins at home are tied for the second-most in the American League.
Don't think Cleveland will coast through the final 13 games of the regular season. They need to nab every advantage they can to bust a 69-year championship drought.