The Indians are well on their way to doing something that has never been done before in franchise history. They are trying to get into the post season by winning the Wild Card. The Wild Card was created in 1994 and since then, only one team from the American League Central has won it a single time (2006 Tigers). If their had been a post season in 1994, the Indians were actually on pace to win it that year, but the strike killed off one of the Indians best chances to win a World Series in franchise history.
There have been three Wild Card teams to make it to the World Series from the AL, the Tigers already mentioned as well as the 2002 Angels and the 2004 Red Sox who each won the championship. Of course, this was all before the advent of two Wild Card teams and the single game Wild Card elimination. Last year, neither the Orioles or Cardinals advanced past the first round, despite playing relatively weak teams that were easily disposed by their next opponent in the LCS.
Since 1995 the Indian have won seven Central Division titles and had eight losing seasons. Of the three remaining, they only competed for the Wild Card twice, first in 2000, then in 2005. In 2000, they held onto the Wild Card spot through September 21st, before being outed by the Seattle Mariners. In 2005, everyone must still remember the epic collapse that saw them lose six of their last seven games to the White Sox and Devil Rays. They stayed in first that year through September 29th, but the three game sweep against Chicago handed the Wild Card to the Red Sox.
This year, the route is easier than ever before. Things have been set up for weeks, giving the Indians the perfect entry to the post-season due to lucky scheduling. In continuation of their inferior competition, the Indians will play the White Sox for two in Cleveland after the Houston series, then go to Minnesota to finish out the season with four there. Their main contenders are currently playing each other, with the Royals going against the Rangers and the Rays playing the Orioles. The Yankees will play Tampa next and the Orioles still have a tough series against AL East winning Boston.
Because of this, it shouldn't be too hard for the Indians to win their first Wild Card ever, but it's always better on top, and the Indians goal now should be to take out Tampa Bay as the number one Wild Card team (in order to earn home field advantage so 10,000 people from Cleveland can go to the game instead of 12,000 from Florida). The Indians need to win at least five of their last eight to hold on to their spot, while six of eight could get them the first. This means any they could lost a game to Chicago as long as they sweep the Astros or Twins.
The Indians are just a half game behind Tampa, who will make up that game against New York on Tuesday. It would be almost impossible for the Yankees to earn either spot, but they could still cause some trouble for the Rays when they play in the 'House that George Steinbrenner Built'. Even the Blue Jays could cause some difficulty when the Rays spend the last three days of the season in Canada. The Rangers have the easiest pack back into the Wild Card, playing the Astros and Angels at home to end the year, but they have been collapsing for the past month and the Indians will just have to hope that continues. Winning six of their last eight games, however, should be good enough to keep any of the trailers away. The Indians are in the driver's seat now, and hold their own destiny in their hands.