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Indians win their 15th consecutive game

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The Indians are now proud owners of a 15-game winning streak after defeating the White Sox 11-2 in Chicago on Thursday evening. The offense jumped on White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey for seven runs in the first three innings and never looked back.

Four runs came in the first inning on an RBI double from Austin Jackson and a three-run home run from Edwin Encarnacion. After the White Sox got solo homers from Yolmer Sanchez and Jose Abreu to cut the lead in half, the Indians got a run back in the second on Francisco Lindor‘s solo homer. In the third, Erik Gonzalez blasted a two-run shot to make it 7-2. Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly and Greg Allen hit a two-run homer in a three-run seventh. Gonzalez tacked on a solo homer in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Corey Kluber was excellent. He gave up just the two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out 13. He’s strengthening his case in the AL Cy Young Award race. The right-hander now has a 2.56 ERA with a 235/34 K/BB ratio in 175 2/3 innings.

Shawn Armstrong pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of Kluber. Craig Breslow tossed a scoreless ninth to seal the deal.

The Indians’ 15-game winning streak is only the 23rd streak of at least that length dating back to 1913, according to Baseball Reference. The last team to win at least 15 in a row was the 2002-03 Giants, who won 15 straight from September 20, 2002 to April 7, 2003. Within one season, the 2002 Athletics have that honor. They won 20 straight between August 13 and September 4. The longest winning streak without a tie since 1913 is 21 by the 1935 Cubs (September 4-27). The 1916 New York Giants won 26 games without losing, but also had a tie in the 13th game of a 27-game span.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.