The Indians have already proven that the American League Central race involves three teams, not just two.
That much was clear when Cleveland nearly swept a series this weekend from the Royals, who lead the Tigers by one-half game.
The Indians took the first two games of their series from the Royals and led, 4-2, in the 10th on Sunday night. But heavy rain and wind forced the game to be suspended. It will resume in Cleveland on Sept. 22. Therefore, the Royals still lead Detroit by a half-game in the AL Central and the Indians by 3 1/2.
The Tigers come to Progressive Field for four games beginning Monday after splitting four games in Chicago over the weekend and losing the finale, 6-2.
David Price will be returning to the mound for the Tigers on Monday after an anomaly in his last start. Against the Yankees last week, the left-hander became the first pitcher in 25 years to allow nine consecutive hits. Chances are lightning won't strike twice, and this will be a pitching matchup fit for September and beyond.
The pitcher tasked with holding up the other end of that bargain will be Indians right-hander Corey Kluber. He'll be facing Detroit for the fourth time this season; In the previous three outings, he's gone 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA.
Kluber, though, has lost back-to-back starts for the first time this season. That's not to say he's pitched poorly at all -- he's thrown quality starts in each of his last eight outings.
Even though the White Sox got the better of the Indians in Kluber's last start, Chicago slugger Jose Abreu came away from the game with immense respect for the right-hander.
"A lot of respect goes to him," said the Cuban rookie. "He's one of the better pitchers in the Major Leagues I've faced."
Price agreed with Abreu's sentiment on Kluber and generalized it to the Tribe as a whole.
"I think they're real, especially with the starting pitching they've been throwing out there," Price said. "They're a tough team. The guy we see [Monday] is one of the best in the league in Kluber."
Tigers: Cabrera misses Sunday game with sore ankle
After leaving Saturday night's game with a sore right ankle, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was held out of Sunday's matinee.
It's unclear whether Cabrera will be back in the lineup for the series opener in Cleveland. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus mentioned Saturday night that it's a possibility that the club could give Cabrera a string of days off in a row at some point.
"I think it'll generally be a day-to-day determination," Ausmus said, "just because sometimes he comes in and it feels good, sometimes he comes in and it's aggravated."
It's also unclear whether or not extended rest would actually help Cabrera's ankle.
"I don't know that it can be healed fully either until something is done about it or he has a complete offseason," Ausmus said.
Indians: Tomlin placed on paternity list
The Indians placed righty Josh Tomlin on the paternity list Sunday, and it comes at a good time. He pitched Friday, then threw 54 pitches in a relief win Saturday, so he would have needed a day or two off anyway. Zach McAllister was recalled in a corresponding move.
"We knew Josh was on the cusp of leaving. … Josh was really good with us about communicating to us, probably since two weeks ago, that this was coming, and he stayed with us on it and everything, so we knew last night when he pitched that he was leaving," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Tomlin came out of the bullpen for most of August after making 15 starts in the first four months of the season. McAllister will work out of the bullpen upon rejoining the club for his fifth stint with the Indians this season.
McAllister, 26, has made 64 starts and no relief appearances since first getting called up by Cleveland in 2011. This year, he has a 5.91 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 14 starts.
• These teams will meet seven times in September. The Indians are ahead in the season series, 7-5.
• Cleveland went 21-6 in September of last season to storm into the AL Wild Card Game, which it dropped to Tampa Bay.
• Francona said newly signed first baseman Russell Branyan is unlikely to join the big league club in September.
In his first two games with Triple-A Columbus, Branyan has four hits in eight at-bats. He hasn't played in the Majors since 2011.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.