The Indians didn’t let Friday’s loss turn into a skid. They got back on their feet with an 8-4 win over the Royals on Saturday as they continued counting down to the division title. Carlos Carrasco wasn’t at his best, scattering four runs and five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings, but Jason Hammel was worse, lasting a full six innings after giving up seven runs on 11 hits and a walk.
The offense came through for Carrasco in the bottom of the sixth inning. Francisco Lindor collected his 40th double of the year, a two-RBI line drive that also helped extend his extra-base hitting streak to 10 games. (He’ll need four more to tie Chipper Jones’ and Paul Waner’s all-time 14-game record.) Austin Jackson, on the other hand, roped a two-run single that looked a lot like a Little League home run:
A solo shot by Edwin Encarnacion and two solid innings from Cleveland’s bullpen helped seal the deal with a comfortable four-run lead. With the win, the Indians needed the Twins to take a loss to the Blue Jays in order to clinch the division title. The Twins were quick to oblige. Marco Estrada crafted eight innings of two-hit, four-strikeout ball, muffling Minnesota’s bats while Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales enjoyed multi-hit games.
Following the Blue Jays’ victory, the Indians found a new kind of winning streak, one they hadn’t replicated in 18 years: back-to-back division titles.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.