CLEVELAND – After 158 games of highs, lows, losing streaks and walk-off wins, the Cleveland Indians can almost touch the postseason.
October is right in front of them.
Were in control of our own destiny, designated hitter Jason Giambi said. Thats all you can ask for at this time of year.
Rookie Danny Salazar gave Cleveland a much-needed quality start and Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer as the Indians tightened their grip on one of the ALs two wild-card playoff spots with their 14th straight win over the Chicago White Sox, 7-2 on Wednesday night in their home finale.
Salazar (2-3) struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings for the Indians, who won their final six home games to stay with the wild-card leaders. Theyll hit the road for four games in Minnesota with a lead over Texas in the wild-card chase. Cleveland is also one game behind Tampa Bay for the top spot with just four games left.
We did what we needed to do, manager Terry Francona said. Its very exciting to go play games that are this meaningful. This is as good as it gets.
Swisher homered in the fifth inning off Dylan Axelrod (4-11) as the Indians finished the season 17-2 against Chicago.
Cleveland hasnt made the playoffs since 2007, but its closing in on a berth under Francona, who guided Boston to two World Series titles and has helped the Indians to 20 more wins than they had a year ago.
A spray-painted bedsheet in the upper deck of Progressive Field said: Playoff Bound. The Indians, who already have 20 more wins than last season, have some work to do before that can happen. They havent won it all since 1948, but if they can win their next four games in Minnesota, the Indians will give themselves a chance to end the drought.
Weve just got to play baseball, thats all we gotta do, said Giambi, who may have saved Clevelands season with a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning Tuesday night. We dont have to worry about anybody else beating anybody else. Weve just get to go out and play baseball, which is the fun part of the game.