Cleveland Indians

Through at 22: Indians' historic win streak finally comes to an end

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AP

Through at 22: Indians' historic win streak finally comes to an end

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians can return to clinching their division and playoff preparations.

Their historic winning streak is, well, history.

Cleveland had its AL record run stopped at 22 straight games on Friday night as the Indians were beaten 4-3 by the Kansas City Royals, who became the first team to conquer the defending league champions since Aug. 23.

Jason Vargas (16-10) pitched into the sixth and Brandon Moss homered off Trevor Bauer (16-9) as the Royals ended baseball's longest win streak in 101 years.

The Indians set a new league mark and came within four of matching the overall record held by the 1916 New York Giants, a 26-game string that included one tie.

"I think it was appropriate. We haven't lost a game in three weeks. We played a good game," Cleveland outfielder Jay Bruce said. "It wasn't like we got just blown out or anything."

"I think (it was important) to have a bit of a light-hearted attitude about it all, and not take it too hard, obviously, because we're in a great position. We just did something that, depending on who you ask, one or no teams have ever done. So, it's one of those deals where we understand what the situation is, and this is not something that would happen very often," he said.

Following a magical, walk-off win in extra innings on Thursday night, the Indians couldn't muster another late rally.

When Francisco Lindor struck out with a runner on first to end it, the sellout crowd gave the Indians a prolonged standing ovation. Manager Terry Francona brought Cleveland's players out of the dugout to salute their fans, whose ovation grew louder and louder.

This was something they'll likely never see again in their lifetimes and both the Indians and their fans wanted to savor every second of an accomplishment while looking forward to October, when the games become more meaningful.

The Indians, who are already assured a playoff spot, not only broke the previous record held by the 2002 "Moneyball" Oakland Athletics, but they served notice that they're the team to beat in the postseason as they attempt to get back to the World Series and perhaps end their 68-year title drought after the Chicago Cubs halted their 108-year drought at Cleveland's expense in 2016.

With one last chance in the ninth, the Indians put the tying run on base before Royals reliever Mike Minor struck out the side for his first pro save, fanning Francisco Lindor on a pitch in the dirt for the final out.

It was Lindor on Thursday night who had prolonged the streak with a two-out, two-strike RBI double in the ninth inning before Bruce doubled home the winning run in the 10th to give Cleveland win No. 22.

That touched off a wild celebration, which shook Progressive Field and gave Cleveland fans a chance to get ready for bigger games to come.

"What they did over there was amazing. I mean, it's utterly amazing," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's just unfathomable for me that you can go three weeks without losing a game. I mean, it was a tremendous accomplishment."

"I mean, we've got a runner on first, two outs, two strikes on Lindor, and I told Jirsch (third base coach Mike Jirschele), `man, we've been here before.' Luckily we got through it tonight," he said.

On their way to making AL history, the Indians romped through the league like no team has before.

They outscored opponents 145-41, led in all but 12 of 207 innings, hit 42 homers and captured the attention of baseball fans fixated on the hot-then-cold Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and seeing how far Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge could hit homers.

Francona kept his players focused throughout the streak, mindful that it could become too big as they closed in on their second straight Central title. They'll likely wrap it up this weekend and can start looking ahead to a postseason where the streak that will matter is winning the last game they play.

During the remarkable run, the Indians trotted out a new lineup almost every night with September call-ups making contributions. The Indians also reeled off win after win without All-Star reliever Andrew Miller, outfielder Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis, who will return Sunday as an outfielder for the first time since he was in the minor leagues in 2009.

Indians must win five more in a row to save us all from ourselves

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AP

Indians must win five more in a row to save us all from ourselves

Baseball is a proper and even noble pastime, but sometimes the kids who cover them get a little too granular for their own good, or anyone else’s.

For instance, they have, because of their typical bias toward hyperaggressive pedantry, decided that the Cleveland Indians either have or have not broken the record for consecutive wins, based on the rules for tie games in 1916.

That’s all you really need to know – that there is a debate over what baseball rules from 101 years ago were as opposed to what they should have been.

And now, to save us all from ourselves and hopefully to shut everyone up, the Indians must win five more games in succession.

Why? Because we cannot shut up on our own.

And shutting up isn’t a bad thing sometimes. Sometimes, quiet disinterest is actually quite admirable, as in, “Your discussion bores me into catatonia. Wake me up five minutes after you’ve all left.”

There is even a debate about whether winning 22 consecutive games has any meaning without a championship (which is just a modified version of the Oakland A’s argument from 15 years earlier), as though the baseball season starts not in April but in mid-October. Once again, bending reality for a “hot” take that leaves both dispenser and listener worse for the social exchange.

Either way, the wisdom from these two postulations is that the Indians can only validate what has been an extraordinary run of baseball by doing it for another week, but then replicating it in the World Series. Otherwise, they are frauds, pretenders and mountebanks.

And it makes the whole “shut up” thing a growing movement in a nation mostly used to shouting at the top of its collective lungs. If the alternative is having a President who wants to explain ESPN to us as though he were Calvin Coolidge fulminating about The Sporting News, how can shutting up be wrong?

Move over A's: Indians win 21st straight game, set American League record

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USATSI

Move over A's: Indians win 21st straight game, set American League record

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- For more than 100 years, American League teams have gone on winning streaks of varying lengths - short ones, long ones, double-digit ones.

Nothing, though, like the one the Cleveland Indians have pieced together.

A streak for the ages.

Moving past the "Moneyball" Oakland Athletics, the Indians set the AL record with their 21st straight win on Wednesday, 5-3 over the Detroit Tigers, to join only two other teams in the past 101 years to win that many consecutive games.

Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer off Buck Farmer (4-3) and Mike Clevinger (10-5) won his fourth straight start as the Indians, a team with its sights set on ending the majors' longest World Series title drought, matched the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second-longest streak since 1900.

And in doing so, they separated themselves from every AL team since the league was formed in 1901.

"Who would've ever thought that we'd be in this situation?" Bruce said. "I can't even imagine."

Believe it.

Now that they've moved past those 2002 A's immortalized on film, the Indians are within five wins of catching the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 straight without a loss but whose century-old mark includes a tie.

The Indians haven't lost in 20 days, and they've rarely been challenged during a late-season run in which they've dominated every aspect of the game.

"I think they're enjoying themselves," manager Terry Francona said as clubhouse music boomed in the background. "They should. I think what's kind of cool about our game is when you do things, and you do them the right way, I think it means more. Our guys are playing the game to win, the right way.

"That part's very meaningful. They should enjoy what they're doing. It's pretty special."

After leading 4-1, the Indians had to overcome a costly error and rely on their bullpen to hold off the Tigers, who have lost 11 of 12 to Cleveland and saw manager Brad Ausmus and catcher James McCann ejected from the series finale.

Roberto Perez added a homer in the seventh and four Cleveland relievers finished, with Cody Allen working the ninth for his 27th save.

With the crowd of 29,346 standing and stomping, Allen retired Ian Kinsler on a sinking liner for the final out, giving the Indians the league's longest streak since the AL was founded 116 years ago.

There was no big celebration afterward as the Indians simply congratulated one another and stuck to their routine.

"We're so focused," said Bruce, who arrived via trade last month from the New York Mets. "I thought we were playing the Royals today. ... Everyone comes here and gets ready to play today and I think that's something that speaks volumes."

During their streak, which began with a 13-6 win over Boston ace Chris Sale on Aug. 23, the Indians have rarely been tied, never mind equaled, for nine innings. They have been superior in every way possible.

Cleveland's starters have gone 19-0 with a 1.70 ERA, they've outscored their opponents 139-35 and trailed in only four of 189 innings.

Incredibly, the Indians have hit more home runs (40) than their pitchers have given up in total runs.

And while they've racked up win after win, the defending AL champs have reduced their magic number for winning their second straight AL Central title to four. They've also passed Houston for the league's best record, which will come into play in the postseason as the team with the best overall mark will have home-field advantage.

Now that they're alongside the 1935 Cubs, the Indians have a realistic shot of running down the 1916 Giants.

Cleveland opens four-game series on Thursday against Kansas City, which was outscored 20-0 on its three-day visit last month.

Francona was asked if he thought the Giants' run should be the record since it includes a tie.

"I wasn't there," he said, drawing laughter. "I've given that zero thought. I promise you I've given it no thought."

With a shot at AL history, Clevinger took the mound with Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" blasting through the ballpark's sound system, and Cleveland's crowd came to rock - and witness history - on a mostly sunny day.

Some parents kept their kids home from school and brought them to Progressive Field to see a once-in-a-lifetime event Cleveland residents may remember more than any solar eclipse. They cheered every two-strike count like it was October and there was something much bigger on the line. The Indians have viewed the streak as a perfect postseason warmup as they try to end a Series title drought dating to 1948.

Clevinger, who didn't allow a run in 18 innings over his three previous starts, was down 1-0 in the first after Jeimer Candelario touched him for a two-out RBI double.

But as they have done for the past three weeks, the Indians responded, with Bruce connecting for a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers.

"Expected, I would say by now," Clevinger said of the Indians' 3-run answer. "I don't think there was a second that I doubted we were going to score some runs or string together some hits."

SIZZLING SEPTEMBER

At 14-0, the Indians are off to the best start in September since the 1991 Minnesota Twins went 15-0.

TESTY TIGERS

Two batters after Ausms and McCann were ejected, a pitch from Farmer eluded catcher John Hicks, who had just entered the game, and struck plate umpire Quinn Wolcott in the chest.

Farmer disputed that the Tigers would try to intentionally hit Wolcott.

"The fact that's even a question is appalling," Farmer said. "It shouldn't be a question. When you look at the situation it's stupid to even think about. It shouldn't even be a thought from anybody that Hicks and I would do that."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Tigers: OF Mikie Mahtook missed his fifth consecutive game after being scratched from a Sept. 9 game against Toronto with left groin soreness. Ausmus said Mahtook was "getting closer, but he's not ready."

Indians: All-Star reliever Andrew Miller will be activated from the disabled list Thursday following his second stint on the disabled list with knee tendinitis.

UP NEXT

The Indians' Josh Tomlin, who is 5-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last six outings, starts the opener against Royals rookie Jakob Junis.