So it turns out that the Indians and the Tigers will meet for the final three games of the regular season with something worth playing for after all, though the Tribe is long since out of playoff contention.
Cleveland's objectives are simple: win once and clinch second place in the AL Central; win twice and clinch a winning record in 2011.
Detroit, meanwhile, has slightly bigger fish to fry. Resting in third place among division winners, and since the current Wild Card leading Boston Red Sox cannot play a team (the Yankees) from their own division in the first round, the Tigers would have to take on New York if the current standings hold up. On the other hand, if Detroit could finish ahead of Texas, they would host the Wild Card winner in the first round (unless someone other than Boston ended up as the Wild Card, in which case Detroit would be playing Texas in the first round, with only the team with the home-field advantage between the Tigers and the Rangers to be determined.
In Monday's opener at 7:05 Ubaldo Jimenez takes on Doug Fister.
Jimenez (4-3, 4.62 ERA) has faced Detroit four times this season in his time with the Indians and the Colorado Rockies, going 2-2 in 23.1 innings, and allowing 14 earned runs. For his career Ubaldo is 2-4 vs. the Tigers.
Fister (10-13, 2.94 ERA) has faced the Tribe five times this year, going 2-1 in 31 innings and surrendering only seven earned runs in time split between the Tigers and the Seattle Mariners.
Fister has beaten the Indians the last two times that he has faced them, including a win on September 5 in Cleveland when he held The Good Guys to just one earned run in eight innings at a time when the Tribe still had some hope of getting back into the race.
For his career Fister is 2-2 vs. Cleveland.
This series (and the Indians' season) will wrap up with games at 7:05 on Tuesday and Wednesday.