Nobody expected pennant races for the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates this season, but barring epic collapses by one or both franchises, it appears both teams are going to be in the hunt well into September.
Both clubs benefit from being in divisions that lack dominant teams. Both have gotten to this point with perhaps unexpectedly outstanding starting pitching and, at times, dominant bullpens.
But both clubs have needs.
Both need hitting if they are to make the most of opportunities no one thought possible in April.
The July 31 trade deadline is a week away and the Indians and Pirates have some difficult decisions to make.
Cleveland has somehow survived the loss of its three top offensive threats - Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore - for significant stretches. And the Indians held onto first place in the American League Central for most of the season even with Choo and Sizmore struggling when they were playing.
But Choo is still out and Sizemore just went back on the disabled list and is expected to miss as many as six weeks after abdominal surgery. The Indians can't win the division with guys like Ezequiel Carrera, Travis Buck and Austin Kearns playing every day. Even if Choo and Sizemore return at some point, it could be too late by then.
And this isn't just about hitting. Look what happened in Minnesota when Buck was hit by a pitch and Michael Brantley was too sick to play. Manager Manny Acta had to put Luis Valbuena in left field, where he cost the Indians one game for sure and perhaps two.
Cleveland is hitting .250 as a team. Pittsburgh is at .246 and the Pirates have hit just 62 home runs to the Indians' 90. Only Andrew McCutchen, with 14 homers, is in double figures for the Bucs.
The Pirates' pitching has been tremendous. Their team ERA is 3.36 and their closer, Joel Hanrahan, has been perhaps the most reliable finisher in the major leagues, converting 28 of 29 opportunities.
But like the Indians, the Pirates' lineup doesn't exactly create fear for opposing pitchers. Only one current regular, outfielder Alex Presley, is hitting over .280 - and he has just 81 at-bats since coming up from the minors.
The time to act is now for both clubs. That's where the tough choices come in, because in order to get the help they need, both the Indians and Pirates must give up something.
The asking prices are steep for some of the players that could help Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Other teams will want some of the best young talent in both clubs' systems.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti and Pirates GM Neal Huntington are in the unenviable positions of having to decide how much of the future of their organizations they should mortgage on trying to win now.
It's not a position anyone expected either club to be in this season. That unexpected success has increased the pressure on both GMs to make the right calls with the trade deadline looming.