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The Indians shut out the Orioles to win 16 straight

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If you haven’t noticed by now, the Indians are on something of a roll. They cruised to their 15th consecutive win on Thursday, defeating the White Sox 11-2 thanks to Corey Kluber‘s 13-strikeout performance and a veritable hit parade. On Friday, they did one better, shutting the Orioles out 5-0 to take their 16th straight win.

Mike Clevinger led the way, holding the Orioles scoreless through six and striking out seven of 23 batters to extend his scoreless streak to 18 consecutive innings. He was backed by a stellar effort from Cleveland’s bullpen, who clinched the win with three innings of one-hit ball by Tyler Olson, Bryan Shaw and Nick Goody.

While the Indians didn’t run away with the game in double-digit fashion this time, they provided a comfortable five-run backing to stay ahead of the Orioles. Edwin Encarnacion posted a mammoth three-run shot to center field in the first inning, his 34th of the year:

Carlos Santana tacked on a bonus RBI in the sixth, just brushing fair of the first base line for a ground-rule double to score Yandy Diaz. In the seventh, with the bases loaded and two outs, a wild pitch from Richard Bleier gave Francisco Lindor a brief window to score the fifth and final run of the evening.

As for the streak, the Indians’ 16 wins tied an AL Expansion Era record first set by the Royals in 1977, though they’re still four games away from tying the 2002 Athletics’ record of 20 straight wins. They’ll need to sweep both the Orioles and Tigers to beat that streak with 21 consecutive victories — no small feat, as the Orioles have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games and are hot on the heels of the Twins, Angels and Rangers for the second wild card spot. Josh Tomlin is scheduled to face off against Baltimore righty Gabriel Ynoa on Saturday, when the Indians try for No. 17 at 1:05 ET.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.