The Indians still own the second-longest winning streak in major league history, but their attempt to top the 1916 Giants’ 26-win streak is officially over. The club found it difficult to stay ahead of the Royals on Friday night, striking first on an Edwin Encarnacion sacrifice fly in the first inning and watching Alcides Escobar tie it up with a solo jack in the second inning.
Jose Ramirez harnessed a one-run lead in the third inning, barreling a Jason Vargas heater an estimated 425 feet over the left field fence and giving the team a minute to catch their breath:
Their advantage was short-lived. Brandon Moss catapulted a 404-footer in the fourth and was backed by two RBI from Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain. Vargas exited in the sixth, unable to harness a quality start in six consecutive attempts, but the Royals’ bullpen delivered where he could not. Ryan Buchter, Trevor Cahill and Mike Minor combined for four scoreless innings, limiting the offense to one hit and three walks and effectively quashing Cleveland’s chances of repeating Thursday’s theatrical walk-off.
That didn’t stop the Indians from making things interesting, from a wild catch in the eighth…
…to Yandy Diaz‘s pop up single in the ninth. Once Minor settled into a groove, however, he was unflappable, needing just 12 pitches to strike out the side and spoiling the Indians’ bid for good.
With the loss, the streak ends at 22 consecutive games, the longest winning streak in 101 years and second-longest in MLB history. The club is still four games away from tying the Dodgers’ 95-win mark and will need to stay ahead of them to clinch home field advantage throughout the postseason, but if anyone’s capable of getting there, it’s them.
Hosmer broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with an RBI double and the score would remain 2-1 into the bottom of the ninth inning. Facing closer Kelvin Herrera, Tyler Naquin singled with one out and was erased on a force at second for out number two. Francisco Lindor kept the Indians’ hope alive when he drilled a 96 MPH fastball off of the wall down the left field line to bring Franciso Mejia home and tie the game at two.
Closer Cody Allen pitched a scoreless top of the 10th inning to put things back in the hands of his team’s offense. Jose Ramirez kicked off the bottom half with a line drive to right-center that normally would’ve been a single, but he hustled into second base for a double. Edwin Encarnacion drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Jay Bruce sent the Indians home winners with a line drive down the right field line to plate Ramirez and extend the winning streak to 22 games.
The Indians broke the American League record on Tuesday with their 21st consecutive win, exceeding the 20 in a row the Athletics won in 2002. Win number 21 also matched the 1935 Cubs which was arguably the all-time record, depending on your view of the 1916 Giants. Those Giants won 26 straight games but had a tie in the middle of that streak.
The Royals and Indians will do battle again on Friday evening with the Tribe looking for their 23rd consecutive win. They last lost on August 23, which feels like a lifetime ago. Then, they were a mere 69-56. Now they are 91-56.
Nationals 3, Phillies 2: The Nats become the first team to clinch a playoff spot this year, though they had to wait until the Braves-Marlins game ended to make it official. Here Stephen Strasburg tossed eight shutout innings — making it 34 straight scoreless innings for him — and struck out ten. It’s the Nats’ fourth division title in six years. Now all they have to do is figure out how to advance past the Division Series. Until then, at least we have this video of Anthony Rendon pouring his celebratory Budweiser down Bryce Harper‘s butt crack:
Braves 10, Marlins 8: The Braves made the Nats wait for the champagne, but they handed the division to Washington all the same with this win. Quite a late rally for the Braves who were trailing 8-5 in the ninth and then saw Rio Ruiz hit a two-run single with two outs to force extras. They then watched Lane Adams hit a two-run homer to walk things off in the 11th. Earlier the Marlins blew a 3-0 lead, then the Braves blew a 5-3 lead, so yeah it was one of those days.
Cardinals 7, Pirates 0: Michael Wacha tossed eight shutout innings and Yadier Molina knocked in five runs. St. Louis has won seven of eight and move to within two games behind Chicago in the NL Central.
Brewers 3, Cubs 1: The Brewers are only two back as well after sweeping the Cubs. Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Zach Davies allowed one run over seven innings. Chicago scored three runs in the whole dang series. The last month will give us a race in the Central after all, it seems.
Rockies 8, Dodgers 1: Holy crap, the Dodgers keep losing. Ten straight now, and 15 of 16. They are the only team in baseball history to both lose 15 of 16 and win 15 of 16 in the same season, so at least their futility is accompanied by some fun trivia. Tyler Chatwood shut ’em out for five innings and three relievers did it for three more innings. Rich Hill ran out of gas at five innings and then the L.A. bullpen imploded, mostly via a Mark Reynolds grand slam, surrendered by Walker Buehler. Frankly it’d be way better if he had given it up on Saturday when L.A. dropped their ninth so we could use that video clip we all like to see when something bad happens for the ninth time. Oh, hell, I had the day off yesterday so let’s use it anyway:
Diamondbacks 3, Padres 2: J.D. Martinez hit two homers and Paul Goldschmidt hit one himself and that’s all there was. Still not gonna say that the Dodgers will choke this thing away, but the Dbacks are now only nine games back. Nine games? NINE GAMES.
Blue Jays 8, Tigers 2: Teoscar Hernandez is not a player most of us think about all that much but he probably gave Anibal Sanchez nightmares last night after he hit two homers and drove in five. Heck, every Jays batter probably gave Sanchez nightmares after they scored seven runs on 12 hits off of him in less than five innings.
Reds 10, Mets 5: New York had a 5-2 lead heading into the seventh but the Reds tied it up with three that inning and poured it on with two more in the eighth and three more in the ninth. Highlight of the game: Reds manager Bryan Price came out to argue after one of his batters was ejected to end the top of the seventh, then halted the argument during “God Bless America,” and then put his hat back on and continued to argue after the song was over:
Rays 4, Red Sox 1: Wilson Ramos and Lucas Duda each hit a solo homer for the Rays who handed Rick Porcello his 17th loss of the year. There have been 204 20-game losers going back to 1900, but unless I’m missing one, none of them have pitched for a playoff team. Porcello’s Red Sox appear playoff bound and, if he takes all of his remaining turns, he has three starts left. I’m guessing the Sox won’t let it happen, but it sure would be something.
White Sox 8, Giants 1: I thought I had a pretty good weekend — I got a good hike in, made a couple of good meals and on Friday I met two of our commenters emeritus, Paper Lions and Historiophiliac, in actual person — but Jose Abreu hit for the cycle on Saturday and hit two homers and drove in three yesterday, so I guess he wins. Carson Fulmer — who sounds more like a quarterback than a pitcher — allowed one run over six innings and struck out nine. For the record, Paper Lions and Historiophiliac are cool people. Just thought you should know that.
Royals 11, Twins 3: Brandon Moss homered and drove in four and Jason Vargas won for the first time in a good while by allowing one run over five innings. Eric Hosmer had four hits. He had 11 hits in the four-game series against the Twins.
Yankees 16, Rangers 7: Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez each hit two homers. Judge is now over 40 homers for the year, and is eight behind Mark McGwire’s rookie record. Sanchez now has 30 on the year and 50 in his first 161 big league games. That one-two punch is gonna be fun to watch for years. Meanwhile, all Didi Gregorius did was notch four hits while driving in four. The Yankees have won three straight series and stand three and a half games ahead of Minnesota for the AL’s top Wild Card spot.
Athletics 10, Astros 2: A four-game sweep of the mighty Astros by the lowly Athletics, who outscored Houston 41-15 in the series. Matt Chapman, Ryon Healy, Boog Powell and Matt Olson all homered and Kendall Graveman allowed one run over six. The A’s then used five pitchers to finish the final three innings because September.
Angels 5, Mariners 3: Mike Trout and Luis Valbuena hit solo homers and Justin Upton hit a two-run double in the Angels’ decisive three-run eighth inning. The Angels pull to within one game of the Twins for the second Wild Card.