Jason Hammel

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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.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Cubs 17, Phillies 2: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Rhys Hoskins lit up another Cubs pitcher for another home run that extended his rookie home record for yet another day. This time, he victimized Kyle Hendricks with a two-run shot in the first inning, collecting his 10th home run in just 17 games.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, that was all they were able to muster against Hendricks and a scorching Cubs’ offense. The Cubs rode Drew Anderson and Jesen Therrien for seven runs in the seventh, building to a season-best 17-run spread that culminated with another two homers and four runs in the ninth.

Yankees 6, Mariners 3: The Mariners missed an opportunity to slide into the second wild card spot on Saturday, coming up empty-handed against Sonny Gray in seven innings of one-run ball. Kyle Seager and Guillermo Heredia rallied in the eighth, but couldn’t quite close the door against a less-forgiving Dellin Betances in the ninth.

Blue Jays 10, Twins 9: Max “Papa Slam” Kepler did all he could for the Twins during Saturday’s nail-biter, and it still wasn’t enough. The outfielder muscled a grand slam in the eighth inning, bringing the Twins within one run of tying the game.

That narrow lead vanished with the Blue Jays’ two-run response in the bottom of the inning, however, and even a Brian “Doz” Dozier RBI single and run-scoring double play from Joe “Mauer” Mauer wasn’t enough to topple their AL rivals.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 0: Kevin Gausman posted his first shutout of the month, holding the Red Sox scoreless through 7 2/3 while home runs from Tim Beckham and Jonathan Schoop highlighted the offense’s seven-run effort. While this hasn’t been Gausman’s finest season by a long shot, he’s looked marginally better in the second half, lowering his ERA to 4.02 and lighting up batters at a clip of 10.0 SO/9.

Nationals 9, Mets 4: The Nationals would like to hand off a three-game winning streak to Max Scherzer on Monday. That’s still up in the air, at least for now, but with a strong performance from Gio “Double G” Gonzalez and a nine-run rebound on Saturday, they’re heading in the right direction. The Nats didn’t score on a single extra-base hit against the Mets’ Robert Gsellman, building their five-run lead on a smattering of singles and productive outs to stay a comfortable 12.5 games above the second-place Marlins in the NL East.

Athletics 8, Rangers 3: The Rangers picked up right-handed journeyman reliever Paolo Espino on Saturday, which looked like a prudent move on their part after another of their right-handers imploded against the A’s earlier in the day. Granted, Tony Barnette‘s two-run flub was the final nail in the coffin following a similarly disastrous outing from Cole Hamels, who led the club to their second straight loss by giving up six runs on nine hits and three walks. Chad Pinder collected two home runs and Jed Lowrie reached 40 doubles (five shy of his career-best single-season total) to boost the A’s to a 57-72 record.

Pirates 1, Reds 0: This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill shutout, if such things even exist. Gerrit Cole turned in his 11th win of the year and arguably his best start, too, flashing six strikeouts and five hits over seven innings. He made his solo home run look equally as effortless, launching a 95-MPH heater off of Welington Castillo in the sixth inning and setting a new franchise record:

Indians 4, Royals 0: Jason Hammel took a perfect game into the sixth inning on Saturday, but finally met his match in Bradley Zimmer, whose stunning fifth-inning grab and perfecto-snapping single helped lock down the Indians’ third consecutive win.

Edwin Encarnacion also helped the Indians’ winning streak with a seventh-inning home run, his 30th of the year. The slugger now owns 30+ home runs in each of his past six seasons.

Tigers 6, White Sox 3: Like the rest of those suspended over Thursday’s Tigers-Yankees brawl, Miguel Cabrera is waiting for a ruling on his appeal. In the meantime, he’s still eligible to play, and made the most of his time on Saturday after going 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the third.

In related news, it looks like there might be additional repercussions from Thursday’s incidents. Nicholas Castellanos reported a ligament sprain in his left wrist following the fracas, though he couldn’t tell reporters exactly how he sustained the injury or give a definite timetable for his return to the field. He’s expected to have it checked out before resuming his post at third base and, in a best-case scenario, will rejoin the team for Sunday’s finale in Chicago.

Cardinals 6, Rays 4: Tommy “T. Pham” Pham played the hero on Saturday night, clubbing a walk-off 419-footer after the Cardinals stunned the Rays with a four-run comeback to take the lead — and the game.

The win went to Tyler Lyons, who combined with John Brebbia for two shutout innings following Mike Leake‘s four-run, three-homer appearance.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 1: Madison Bumgarner stymied the Diamondbacks with seven beautiful innings of two-run ball, which proved too great a task for the Giants’ offense as they dropped their 20th one-run loss of the year. Taijuan Walker, whose 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball were rewarded by a pair of homers from A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez, improved to 7-7 on the year as the D-backs cruised to a 1.5-game lead in the wild card standings. In other words, just your standard Giants/Diamondbacks 2017 matchup.

Marlins 2, Padres 1 (11 innings): Both the Marlins’ Odrisamer Despaigne and Padres’ Dinelson Lamet played hard to get on Saturday, allowing a collective two runs and six strikeouts over the first six innings. Cory Spangenberg stole home to put the Padres on the board, while Marcell Ozuna grabbed hold of his 31st home run of the season to knot the game 1-1. Miguel Rojas plated the deciding run in the 11th inning, scoring Derek Dietrich on a sac fly for the Marlins’ walk-off win and their sixth victory in seven games.

Amid all the hubbub, Ichiro Suzuki and his lone pinch-hit single made franchise history, too:

Rockies 7, Braves 6: The Rockies still need another 1.5 games to catch the Diamondbacks for the first NL wild card spot, and they made a good-faith effort to close the gap with a late rally against the Braves. Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu stepped up in the ninth, smashing a pair of home runs to give the Rockies a much-needed three-run lead.

Things got too close for comfort in the bottom of the inning with Matt Adamstwo-run shot, but it took Jake McGee just one Brandon Phillips double play to polish off the win.

Brewers 3, Dodgers 0: Clayton Kershaw‘s return can’t come soon enough. The Dodgers’ ace lasted five innings in his Triple-A rehab start on Saturday, issuing one run and eight strikeouts as he continued to work back from a back injury. Things didn’t go nearly as well for his big league teammates, who were felled in a five-hit shutout by Zach Davies and an airtight Milwaukee bullpen.

Angels 7, Astros 6: It’s never too early or too late in the season to be reminded of this helpful PSA:

Of course, it’s much easier to weather a 40-minute delay and five-run deficit if you can be assured of an Andrelton Simmons three-run, go-ahead home run for your troubles.

Watch: Bradley Zimmer lays out for an outstanding catch

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Mike Clevinger and Jason Hammel went head-to-head in a true pitcher’s duel on Saturday, each posting several no-hit innings while their respective offenses scrambled to get on the board. Center fielder Bradley Zimmer backed Clevinger’s efforts with a five-star catch in the fifth, bellyflopping on a deep fly ball to preserve the shutout and end the inning.

Zimmer came through again for the Indians again in the bottom of the sixth inning, working a full count against the Royals’ Jason Hammel and lacing a single just under the glove of Alcides Escobar to break up the righty’s perfect game attempt.

That appeared to open the floodgates for the Indians’ offense, who broke through with Roberto Perez‘s two-RBI home run and added two solo shots from Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana to take a four-run lead. The Royals, on the other hand, still couldn’t find a toehold against Clevinger, who exited with six frames of four-hit, nine-strikeout ball and left the rest of the shutout in the capable hands of Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero and Cody Allen for the Indians’ third win in a row.