MINNEAPOLIS — The playoff scenario for the Cleveland Indians is simple: win Sunday and they are in.
The Indians moved into sole possession of the AL wild-card lead on the next-to-last scheduled day of the regular season, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-1 Saturday behind Scott Kazmir’s strong start to extend their winning streak to nine.
Seeking their first postseason appearance since 2007, the Indians (91-70) took a one-game lead over Tampa Bay and Texas (both 90-71).
“We want to keep this roll going. This is so much fun,” Nick Swisher said.
Cleveland is assured of at least a tie for the AL wild card. With three teams seeking the two wild cards, Sunday’s results could decide the matter or lead to one or two tiebreaker games at the start of next week.
Carlos Santana homered for the Indians, who have won 14 of their last 16.
If the three teams are tied after Sunday, Cleveland would host Tampa Bay on Monday, with the winner advancing to the postseason. The loser would play at Texas on Tuesday for the second wild card.
In the event Sunday ends with a tie for the second wild-card berth, there would be a one-game tiebreaker Monday. Tampa Bay would host Cleveland, Texas would be home against the Rays or the Indians would host the Rangers.
The two wild cards would then meet in a postseason game Wednesday to determine which advances to the division series.
“Every time you win, it makes the next day that much more important, so we get to show up tomorrow and see if we can win a game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We need to be one run better tomorrow and then we go from there.”
After a rain delay of 2 hours, 26 minutes at the start, Kazmir (10-9) allowed one run and six hits in six innings, and Marc Rzepczynski, Cody Allen and Joe Smith each followed with an inning of hitless relief.