It's been a cold, rainy season that a

By Doug Tucker Associated Press Published:

It's been a cold, rainy season that a lot of fans and front office types wish had been called off in April.

When unrelenting rain forced cancellation of Monday night's game against Cleveland, it left the Royals with a dismal home record of 33-47.

"For a lot of reasons, we just didn't get it done," said shortstop Jay Bell, one of the few bright spots. "To win consistently, you need at least two phases of your game to be going well, offense, defense or pitching. So many times, we only had one phase working for us."

While the Royals struggle to avoid a second straight last-place finish in the AL Central, the Indians headed home to Jacobs Field with a magic number of 2 for clinching their third straight AL Central title.

The rainout was not the most unpleasant thing to happen to the Indians on a 12-day, 14-day, four-city road trip. They went 7-7 on the year's longest trip. But they lost pitcher John Smiley when he broke his arm while warming up to start on Saturday night.

"This ends a tough, tough road trip for us," said second baseman Bip Roberts. "It will be so good for all these guys to get home."

Starting tonight, Cleveland wraps up the regular season with a seven-game, six-day home stand. After three with the New York Yankees, they'll play four against Minnesota, including a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. Manager Mike Hargrove said he would push back his rotation plans for the next three games, starting Charles Nagy (15-10) against the Yankees tonight.

"It's been a tough trip. But it's been a very productive trip," said Hargrove. "We've proved that we can survive. The last couple of weeks, this trip notwithstanding, we've faced a lot of challenges and overcome a few things that a lot of people maybe didn't think this club had in it. I think the players and the coaching staff have shown a lot of character."

Hargrove declined to speculate on what his postseason rotation might be now that Smiley is out.

"It's by no means over," he said. "We've still got things to get accomplished. Let's just go ahead and clinch it, and get to the postseason. That's where we're at right now."

After losing to Baltimore in four games in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Indians are wary of any letdown.

"We're taking nothing for granted right now," said shortstop Omar

Vizquel. "We're taking last year as experience for this year. Last year

there were a lot of guys taking days off and playing bad in the last

week of the season. I'm saying we have to be playing good to play good

in the playoffs. It's too hard to turn it off and on."

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