Austin Jackson

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The Indians are AL Central champions

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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.

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.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 6, Yankees 2: Jose Ramirez homered twice and Carlos Santana and Austin Jackson each went deep as well, backing Corey Kluber‘s eight innings of two-run ball. His counterpart, Luis Severino, only gave up four hits but three of them were homers which, well, yeah.

Orioles 7, Mariners 6: Adam Jones hit a home run in the fifth inning gave him 25 on the year. That makes it the seventh consecutive season of at least 25 homers for him, passing Cal Ripken, Jr. for the new Orioles record. He did it against the team that traded him away when he was 22 years-old. Bill Bavasi — the GM who traded him, Chris Tillman, Geroge Sherrill and two prospects for an Erik Bedard who would almost immediately fall off a cliff and who has now been retired for nearly three years — was fired four months later and has never been a GM again. He is now the director of the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, where he manages dozens of scouts who likely could’ve told him that it was a bad move to trade Jones if they had been asked. I wonder if they still mention it to him. I would, but then again I’ve always been kind of a pain to my bosses. Anyway, that’s five wins in a row for the Orioles, who pass the Mariners and pull a game and a half behind the Twins for the final AL wild-card spot.

Nationals 11, Marlins 2: Max Scherzer came back off the disabled list and allowed only one run on five hits and struck out ten over seven innings. Two of those Ks were of Giancarlo Stanton, who went 0-for-3. Guessing Scherzer feels OK.

Phillies 6, Braves 1: Rhys Hoskins didn’t homer — is he OK? Can someone check on him? — but he did go 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Cameron Rupp hit a solo homer and drew a bases-loaded walk. The Phillies beat the Braves again. They have beaten the Braves in 12 of 14 games this year including all eight played in Philly.

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5: Christian Vazquez had four hits, including a two-run home run, Eduardo Nunez added a solo shot and the Red Sox broke their four-game losing streak. But I don’t wanna talk about that. I wanna talk about how Kevin Pillar is just a stupidly, ridiculously good center fielder:

Straight line path to that ball, full spring plus the extension. Just preposterous.

Cubs 6, Pirates 1: Mike Montgomery shut the Pirates out through seven innings, allowing his only run of the game via a solo homer to the first man he faced in the eighth. The Cubs were already up 5-0 by the time that happened, however, thanks in part to Montgomery, who reached on an infield single and later scored. Montgomery has allowed one run over 13 innings in his last two starts. He’ll probably be sent back to the pen when Jon Lester gets healthy, but the Cubs do have an option if they don’t like the look of their rotation heading down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Rays 12, Royals 0: The Royals have now been shut out for four straight games and for 43 straight innings, stretching back to the second inning of their game against the Rockies last Thursday. If Alex Cobb can shut them out for the first five innings tonight Kansas City will break a record currently held by the 1968 Chicago Cubs and the 1906 Philadelphia Athletics. As for this one, it was Austin Pruitt, who shut them out one one hit for six innings, and Matt Andriese who shut them out for three innings on a single hit as well. Offensively, the Rays were led by Logan Morrison who hit a three-run homer and doubled in a fourth. Lucas Duda hit a three-run shot. The Greater Kansas City Area hasn’t seen an annihilation like this since November 20, 1983.

Tigers 4, Rockies 3Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run triple and an RBI single on his 3-for-4 night and Brad Ausmus deployed six pitchers to win a close game. Miguel Cabrera left the game in the fifth with a bad back. He’s had a bad back all year, really, and I suspect it’s that, as opposed to natural decline, that has led to his disappointing season. Of course bad backs are probably a pretty big part of a lot of players’ natural decline, so perhaps the distinction is without difference.

Angels 3, Athletics 1Andrew Heaney allowed one run on only two hits while striking out ten over six and the Angels mustered just enough offense on a night where the slumping Mike Trout — who is 0-for-his-last-17 — was scratched with a stiff neck.

Giants 3, Padres 0Jeff Samardzija tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out five. All three hits were infield singles. Brandon Crawford hit a solo homer. Joe Panik hit a two-run homer, scoring Crawford. So, like, three dudes beat the Padres.

By the way, the Associated Press game story refers to Samardzija as “the former Notre Dame wide receiver.” Which, yes, is true, but I question whether now, as he is close to completing his tenth big league season, is really necessary anymore. Unless, of course, “odd thing a person did in college” is now a necessary identifier. It’d be kind of cool if it was. That way people could refer to me as “Craig Calcaterra, the former Ohio State University Bookstore employee, who sold Apple Newtons to people at the electronics counter, claiming that they were AMAZING, when they were really overpriced trash . . . ”

Actually, yes, please refer to me that way going forward. It’s probably my greatest professional accomplishment. Imagine: convincing someone to buy an Apple Newton!