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Game One Hundred Fifty-Five: Indians 6, Athletics 2

Box Score
Win Probability Added @ Fangraphs

Highest WPA:

Jake Westbrook .237
Grady Sizemore .170
Jason Michaels .088

Lowest WPA:

Asdrubal Cabrera -.056
Victor Martinez -.053
Travis Hafner -.048

What happened during this game mattered little compared to what the final outcome meant.

Today's game was the final home game* of the season. For late September, the weather was unusually balmy, a benevolent bookend to the wintry home opener. More than 40,000 fans came to see the Indians clinch, and while the divisional race was no longer in doubt, the need to clinch at home was foremost in everyone's mind:

"Goosebumps," Sabathia said, searching for words to describe his emotions. "It was so good to do it at home. I had no doubt that we would win it."

Jake Westbrook, another of the few remaining from the 2001 team, started and won today's game, striking out a career-high nine and going seven innings. His method today was anything but vintage Westbrook as evidenced by the strikeouts, but it was effective.

Still, today wasn't about today, if you get my drift. A milestone is a good opportunity to think about the journey undertook to reach it. This journey didn't start in April of 2007 but almost five years before that. It was by no means an easy odyssey, full of missteps, discouragements, and self-doubt. And it isn't even over yet.

"I looked at a lot of blank stares," [Shapiro] said Sunday afternoon, as champagne, beer and, of course, pies to the face dominated the scene in the Indians' clubhouse. "Very few people believed in what we were going to do and how we were going to do it."

The above quote was in reference to the 2002 tear-down and the rebuilding effort that followed. Regardless of how the Indians did after the rebuild, this much was certain: it was entirely Shapiro's doing. And while today was not a complete vindication, it was a vindication nonetheless:

"I've got a greater sense of understanding of the magnitude of the accomplishment and also of the fragility of the accomplishment as well," Shapiro said. "I couldn't believe any more in that group of 25 guys and the manager and the staff. These guys had every reason to find the excuse and give into the challenges. They never did. This is a special, meaningful and collective achievement."

Although the division is clinched, there's still something to play for: the Indians can still gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the ability to pick their ALDS schedule. Still, the regulars will get some time off the last week of the season, and the rotation will need to be tweaked in order to set things up for the playoffs.

*Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader in Seattle is considered a home game for the Indians, but today's game was the last regular season game to played at Jacobs Field.

Next Up: Laffey vs. Hernandez, 10:05 (Tuesday)