Associated Press

Indians win their 21st game in a row

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The Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers this afternoon to take their 21st straight game, setting a new American League record for consecutive wins. The previous record, as we have noted, was held by the 2002 Oakland Athletics.

Cleveland fell behind 1-0 in the first inning but roared back to take a 3-1 lead thanks to a three-run homer by Jay Bruce in the bottom half of the inning. They added another run via an Edwin Encarnacion RBI single in the third. The Tigers brought it to within one run in the sixth thanks to RBIs from Nicholas Castellanos and Andrew Romine, but Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez‘s homer in the seventh put the Tribe up by two. Maybe it could’ve been more than a 5-3 margin, but Carlos Santana was thrown out by about 20 feet trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park homer to end the bottom of the eighth. Can’t blame the Indians for feeling frisky lately.

Two interesting things of note during this game. In the bottom of the third, both Tigers catcher James McCann and manager Brad Ausmus were ejected for arguing balls and strikes. During the argument, Ausmus could be overheard yelling “Don’t get caught up in them winning 20 games!” which yeah, is the sort of thing that’ll get you tossed. Right after that, the home plate umpire was hit when replacement catcher John Hicks couldn’t snag a trailing fastball. Dallas Braden, for his part, thought that it may have been an intentional miss by Hicks in order to get the ump smacked:

I won’t go that far — it was a pitch with a lot of movement and the catcher had just entered the game, not really expecting to play — but viva conspiracies.

Later the sprinklers at Progressive Field went off in the middle of the game:

As for the streak: in addition to the American League record, the 21st straight win ties the mark set by the 1935 Chicago Cubs which, until now, we’ve been referring to as the all-time record winning streak. The reasoning for that: most sources have noted that a longer unbeaten streak — 26 straight by the 1916 New York Giants — was interrupted by a tie, called due to darkness, in the middle of the run. Based on that, we’ve been content to call the Cubs’ mark the record.

As Chris Cwik of Yahoo wrote a couple of hours ago, though, there’s a strong argument that the tie shouldn’t matter and that the Giants should be credited with the longest winning streak. Read Chris’ article for the full explanation, but the short version is that the tie didn’t really count. They played a doubleheader the next day and the Giants won ’em both. Without taking anything away from the 1935 Cubs or the 2017 Indians, I think the Giants have a better claim to the all-time record.

Whatever you think about that, though — and depending on what Major League Baseball says about it if it actually weighs in on it — what the Indians are doing right now is undeniably great. Tomorrow they host Kansas City for a shot at 22.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.