Kelvin Herrera

Indians rally late, extend winning streak to 22 games

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The Indians extended their winning streak to 22 games on Thursday night against the Royals, turning a 2-1 ninth-inning deficit into a 3-2, 10-inning, walk-off victory.

The Royals opened the scoring in the top of the second against starter Josh Tomlin when Mike Moustakas grounded into a double play that plated Eric Hosmer. The Indians tied it not long thereafter in the third on a Lonnie Chisenhall RBI single against Jake Junis.

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.

Royals remove Kelvin Herrera from closer role

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Royals’ right-hander Kelvin Herrera will step down from the closer role, manager Ned Yost announced Friday. The shift comes as little surprise after Herrera’s implosion during the team’s 4-2 loss on Thursday; coupled with a nagging forearm strain and the Royals’ current position in the AL wild card standings, it’s a necessary, albeit temporary, move.

The 27-year-old righty hasn’t looked quite himself this year, touting career-worst numbers in nearly every category with a 4.24 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9 through 51 innings. The forearm tightness he experienced back in August, while a factor in his decline, still appears to be mild and may not lead to a stint on the disabled list. Although the Royals haven’t ruled out Herrera’s return to the mound this season, they’ll push forward with a closer-by-committee approach as they try to vault over the Twins, Angels, Orioles, Rangers and Rays for a wild card spot.

According to Yost, closing duties will be divided among left-hander Mike Minor and right-handers Brandon Maurer and Scott Alexander in Herrera’s absence. Minor and Alexander stick out from the bunch with sub-3.00 ERAs, while Maurer has found it difficult to adjust after a midseason trade to Kansas City, pairing a 7.02 ERA with a 4.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 over just 16 2/3 innings so far.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 11, White Sox 2: Cleveland wins its 15th straight and it came in a laugher, with the Tribe offense jumping on White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey for seven runs in the first three innings. Corey Kluber didn’t need even half of that run support as he tied up the Chisox for seven innings, allowing only two runs on three hits and striking out 13. The last team to win at least 15 in a row was the 2002-03 Giants, who did it straddling the offseason. The last team to win as many as 15 in a single season was the 2002 A’s, who famously won 20 in a row between August 13 and September 4.

Yankees 9, Orioles 1: The Bombers hit four bombs, with Aaron Judge and Chase Headley hitting two-run homers and Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier adding solo shots. Judge has destroyed the Orioles this year. His line against them: .449/.603/1.082 with nine homers, 18 RBI and 19 walks. That’s just obscene.

Nationals 4, Phillies 3: Four wins in a row for the Nationals, whose magic number is now down to four. Trea Turner hit a two-run single in the sixth. Michael A. Taylor robbed Andres Blanco of a homer with a leaping grab. Everything’s coming up Nationals lately.

Braves 6, Marlins 5: One of the reasons Washington’s magic number is so low so early is because the Marlins are absolutely reeling. Miami has lost 10 of 11, including five straight. This one was a back-breaker, as the lowly Braves mounted a two-run rally in the ninth for a come-from-behind win. Brad Ziegler tried to nail it down, but Matt Adams doubled to lead off the inning, Nick Markakis pinch-ran for him and Ozzie Albies doubled Markakis in. After an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman and a ground out that erased Albies, Kurt Suzuki doubled home Freeman to give the Braves the walkoff win.

Cubs 8, Pirates 2: Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and 2 walks and 2 runs scored. That makes for a very pretty and satisfying line in the box score. Ian Happ, who is from the Pittsburgh area, went 3-for-5 and scored twice. He also threw a runner out at the plate. Quite an improvement over the night before when he tripped over his own bat running out of the batter’s box.

Mets 7, Reds 2Brandon Nimmo hit two homers on a 3-for-4, three RBI day and Matt Harvey got his first win since May 28 with a five inning, two run, five-hit performance. It wasn’t a great outing — he only struck out one guy — but it’s an improvement over his last start.

Twins 4, Royals 2: Minnesota was down 2-1 after eight but rallied for three in the top of the ninth with a Brian Dozier sac fly and a two-run single from Jorge Polanco off of Kelvin Herrera with two outs. Not the sort of loss the Royals can take if they want to stay relevant in the AL Wild Card race. Kansas City falls to three and a half games back, but with four teams in between them and the the Twins, who remain a game up on the Angels for the second slot.

Padres 3, Cardinals 0: Clayton Richard tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off. Wil Myers‘ two-run homer in the seventh was the big blow for the Padres. St. Louis had a chance in the ninth, rallying to load the bases with two outs, but Brad Hand struck out Dexter Fowler to end the threat.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 1: That’s seven straight losses for the Dodgers and this one hurt more as it came with their ace, Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Colorado was unimpressed, scoring three runs off of him in the first inning courtesy of a Nolan Arenado three-run homer and handing him his first loss since May 6. The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Josh Ravin gave up back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the seventh inning and the fans in Dodger Stadium rained down boos. L.A. is lucky the playoffs start in October and not September.