MIAMI -- The Indians have been enjoying one of their better stretches of this season, but it has not done the club much good in the American League Central standings.
Entering Sunday, Cleveland had won 14 of its past 19 games -- a stretch that included a season-best eight-game winning streak -- dating back to July 11. Over that same time period, however, the Indians had actually lost a half-game in the standings, given a similar hot stretch turned in by the division-leading Tigers.
Lately, it seems like the Indians and Tigers have won and lost on the same days.
"That won't happen the next four days," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "at least by my math."
Beginning Monday, Cleveland will host Detroit over a four-game series at Progressive Field. The Indians trailed the Tigers by three games in the division race heading into Sunday's action, and will have an opportunity to make up some ground in the standings.
Francona is looking forward to seeing how his club responds this week.
"You play all year to have a series like this be this important," Francona said. "That's exciting. If it's not, you don't have a heartbeat. So, good for us. I want our guys to enjoy the competition, because we're playing the best, and this is where we're trying to get. We're within striking distance, and it makes the games really exciting.
Francona said it was still too early to get too caught up in how close Cleveland is in either the division or AL Wild Card picture.
"I don't even talk about either one," Francona said. "You just try to win. We'll look up down the road, and if we've won the games we're supposed to, then there's a time to start looking at that. You can kind of get ahead of yourself a little bit. If you start doing math too early, you might flunk."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.