So it all comes down to this: the Indians welcoming the Tigers to Progressive Field, and needing to win at least two-of-three -- perhaps needing even to sweep.
As we take our beginning-of-the-week look at the standings in the Major Leagues, and at who plays whom in games that really matter for contenders, it is impossible to find a series any bigger than Indians-Tigers.
But there are other teams fighting for their lives, and other big games to be played.
So let us proceed:
AL Central Standings
Obviously, if you are on this particular page, you know who plays whom beginning Monday afternoon in Cleveland, but the White Sox also have an outside chance, although they basically played their way out of contention when they were swept over the weekend.
Chicago heads to Minnesota and begins a series vs, the Twins with a doubleheader on Monday.
Detroit's magic number to clinch the Central stands at 18, while Chicago's elimination number is 16, the Twins is 4, and the Royals is 2.
AL East Standings
This division is the tightest race left right now, with the Yankees in Baltimore on Monday and the Red Sox in Toronto. The Rays, who are literally about an update away from being considered "out of it", are home to the Rangers.
New York's magic number is 23, and whichever team finishes second in this division will probably get the Wild Card.
AL West Standings
The Rangers are still the team to beat in this division, with a magic number of 19, but the Angels don't want to go away and are hanging peskily in there. Unfortunately for the Angels, it is pretty much down to "catch the Rangers or watch the playoffs at home".
Texas, as noted above, is at Tampa Bay to start the week while Los Angeles entertains the Mariners.
American League Wild Card Standings
|Tampa Bay||76||63||.546||8||Won 2|
|Los Angeles||76||64||.542||8.5||Won 2|
|Kansas City||58||83||.411||27||Lost 1|
(updated 9.5.2011 at 11:43 AM EDT)
As can be seen by a cursory look at the Wild Card standings, the Red Sox are pretty much in the driver's seat, with a magic number of 16 to clinch the fourth American League playoff spot. And of course Boston is very much alive for the East crown.
And in the National League...
NL Central Standings
It is just about over in the NL Central, with the Brewers' magic number shrunken to 13. The Cardinals are in desperate condition, as they are well behind the Braves for the Wild Card.
Milwaukee goes to St. Louis to begin the week, and this race could literally be over in the next week or so.
The Cubs and Astros are already eliminated, while the Pirates and Reds will likely be gone from the race before the end of the week.
NL East Standings
The Phillies have hit a little bump with two straight losses, but still their magic number is 18 to win another NL East crown.
Philadelphia will get a chance to just about put this division away when they take on Atlanta at home with a series beginning today.
Florida is out, and the Nationals will be eliminated with their next loss, or the next Phillies' win.
NL West Standings
Arizona decreased their magic number to 16 by taking two-of-three from the Giants over the weekend. The Diamondbacks now head to Colorado to face the Rockies, while the defending champs from San Francisco are on the road to take on the Padres.
National League Wild Card Standings
|St. Louis||74||66||.528||8.5||Lost 1|
|San Francisco||73||67||.521||9.5||Lost 2|
|New York||68||70||.492||13.5||Won 1|
|Los Angeles||68||71||.489||14||Lost 1|
|San Diego||61||79||.435||21.5||Won 1|
(updated 9.5.2011 at 11:53 AM EDT)
The Braves are just about out of contention in the NL East -- yet are looking good for the Wild Card, for which their magic number is 15.
Only Houston has actually been mathematically eliminated, but a slew of teams are likely to be history before our next update...
...which will be available for your perusal on Friday.