Athletics

2002 A's have company: Indians tie AL record with 20th straight win

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USATSI

2002 A's have company: Indians tie AL record with 20th straight win

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians share a record with a team celebrated by Hollywood.

"Moneyball" has its sequel.

Following a familiar script of scoring first, playing strong defense and riding dominant pitching, the Indians extended their winning streak to 20 games and matched the AL mark held by the 2002 Oakland Athletics, beating the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Cleveland's streak, which began on Aug. 24 in Boston, is tied for the majors' second-longest in 82 years - and the Indians show no signs of stopping.

Corey Kluber (16-4) strengthened his Cy Young Award case with a four-hitter as Cleveland joined the 2002 A's, 1935 Chicago Cubs (21) and 1916 New York Giants (26) as the only teams to win at least 20 in a row.

Francisco Lindor homered leading off the first inning against Matthew Boyd (5-10), and the crowd of 24,654 stood and roared when Kluber sprinted to the mound for the ninth.

Second baseman Jose Ramirez made a sensational diving stop in short right field to throw out Ian Kinsler for the second out, and after allowing a double to Alex Presley, Kluber sealed win No. 20 - and Cleveland's seventh shutout during the streak - by getting Miguel Cabrera on an easy grounder to third.

Fireworks exploded overhead and the Indians lined up to celebrate yet another win in this unthinkable streak.

The Giants' revered 101-year-old streak includes a tie that interrupted 12- and 14-game unbeaten runs. However, the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistical custodian for Major League Baseball, has always regarded the Giants' stretch as the top mark because tie games were replayed from the start back then.

Cleveland can equal the Cubs' 21-game run Wednesday afternoon, and the Indians are within striking distance of the illustrious-but-imperfect mark of those `16 Giants.

The Indians and A's, whose unexpected run to the postseason 15 years ago was re-told in the film starring Brad Pitt, don't have much in common besides their 20-game streaks.

Oakland was an overachieving squad loaded with pitching and a roster comprised of low-salaried players assembled by a front office that forced baseball to rethink how it evaluated talent. The Indians, on the other hand, have spent millions to get better, and have been expected to win - big.

Maybe not at this amazing rate, but after getting to Game 7 in 2016, Cleveland was a favorite to return to the World Series.

Closing in on their second consecutive AL Central title, the Indians figured to keep things going with Kluber on the mound, and the right-hander continued his own superb stretch.

Kluber improved to 8-1 in his last nine starts and lowered his ERA to an AL-best 2.45 with his third shutout of the season and fifth complete game. He allowed a leadoff double in the first to Kinsler, but stranded him at third by striking out Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos to end the inning.

Cabrera came in batting .434 against Kluber but went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

While understanding the fascination with his team's roll, Indians manager Terry Francona has been downplaying the streak so as not to make it a distraction. As far as Francona's concerned, there is nothing magical going on.

"I just want to win tonight. I've always felt like that," he said before the game. "Maybe you don't believe me. I want us to show up every day and play the best game we can. We're going to lose a game."

When, is anyone's guess.

Lindor, who has been Cleveland's hottest hitter during the streak, hit his 30th homer in the first off Boyd as the Indians scored first for the 19th time in 20 games.

The Indians wasted bases-loaded threats in the second and third before finally scoring their second run in the sixth when Carlos Santana doubled, moved up on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis is pushing to return Sunday after being sidelined since Aug. 23 with a strained hamstring. Kipnis will play center field as the club needs to add outfield depth after rookie Bradley Zimmer broke his left hand. Zimmer's fracture required a plate and nine screws in surgery. He will be re-examined in two weeks, but doctors have estimated he'll need two months to recover.

Tigers: DH Victor Martinez underwent a heart ablation to correct an irregular heartbeat that caused the five-time All-Star to be hospitalized last month. The 38-year-old is expected to return next season. .... RHP Michael Fulmer had ulnar nerve transposition surgery in Pensacola, Florida. Last season's AL Rookie of the Year is expected to be ready for spring training.

UP NEXT:
The Indians will go for No. 21 in a row Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. with RHP Mike Clevinger, who hasn't allowed a run in his past three outings, starting against Tigers RHP Buck Farmer.

Olson breaks Oakland rookie record by homering in fifth consecutive game

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Olson breaks Oakland rookie record by homering in fifth consecutive game

The beat goes on for Matt Olson, who set an Oakland rookie record Tuesday by homering for the fifth consecutive game.

That makes it 23 in just 55 games this season for the A’s first baseman, and an astonishing 15 homers in his past 21 games. In his first plate appearance Tuesday, Olson pounded a hanging 0-1 curve from Tigers lefty Chad Bell deep into the right field seats at Comerica Park.

Since Aug. 11, Olson leads the American League with 19 homers. And his 23 homers are the most in franchise history over the first 66 games of a career.

According to @dakern74, just three others in Oakland history have ever gone deep five games in a row: Dave Kingman in 1986, Matt Stairs in 1998 and Frank Thomas in 2006.

A by-the-numbers look at Matt Olson's home run tear

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USATI

A by-the-numbers look at Matt Olson's home run tear

When it comes to power hitting, rookie first baseman Matt Olson has enjoyed one of the most impressive career-opening stretches in A’s history.

He went deep again in Monday night’s 8-3 victory over Detroit. Although he’s only played in roughly one-third of Oakland’s games this year, Olson has vaulted into a tie for fourth on the team with 22 homers this season.

Here’s a glance inside some of the numbers behind the rookie’s home run tear:

22 — Olson’s 2017 —and career — home run total. Those 22 homers tie Mark McGwire for most in franchise history over a player’s first 65 games.

18: The number of times Olson has gone deep since Aug. 11, which leads the American League.

19 — The number of major league games Olson appeared in before connecting for his first homer. That came June 24. Since then, he hasn’t gone more than eight games in the majors without clearing the fence.

47 — Olson was the 47th overall pick of the 2012 draft, a compensation choice between the first and second rounds. He was one of a trio of high school infielders Oakland took with its first three picks that year. The others were two shortstops — Addison Russell (11th overall) and Daniel Robertson (34th).

At the time the A’s said perhaps they had drafted three-fourths of their future infield. But Russell and Robertson eventually got dealt. Now, Olson is part of a different young infield core that could include third baseman Matt Chapman and second baseman Franklin Barreto along with veteran shortstop Marcus Semien.

2: The number of players in the past 30 years to hit 20 homers in both the minors and majors in the same season. Olson has done it this year. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who’s generating his share of headlines with his own power hitting, did it back in 2010.

103 The number of homers Olson hit over five minor league seasons leading into this year. That included a whopping 37 for Single-A Stockton in the homer-happy California League in 2014. In comparison, the 17 homers he hit each of the next two seasons at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville looked paltry. Olson says he struggled for a while to trust his natural power stroke and not try to alter his approach too much to boost those power numbers.

4: The total number of major leaguers produced by Olson’s alma mater of Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga. The others were outfielder Jeff Francoeur, infielder Jeff Keppinger and catcher Clint Sammons.

4 (Part II): Number of consecutive games Olson has homered in. That ties the Oakland rookie record for most games in a row with a homer. Dan Johnson also homered in four straight from Aug. 3-6, 2005. Extend it out farther, and Olson has gone deep 14 times over his past 20 games. And speaking of that …

14: Olson is tied with a couple of legends when it comes to most homers in a 20-game span in Oakland history. McGwire (1987) and Reggie Jackson (1969) also had 14 over their own 20-game stretches, and Jackson did it twice that season. (Hat tip to A’s P.R. stats guru Mike Selleck for several of these factoids, by the way).

23: Remember that Olson is just 23 years old. His 22 homers are the most in a single season by an Athletic 23 or younger since Eric Chavez swatted 32 back in 2001. Chavez also was 23 at the time.