Bill Baer

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.

Jake Marisnick expected to miss six to eight weeks with fractured thumb

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Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick fractured his right thumb sliding into second base in Wednesday night’s game against the Angels and is expected to miss the next six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

Marisnick, 26, has shared center field this season with George Springer and Cameron Maybin, so he has come to the plate only 259 times. He’s been effective, however, batting .243/.319/.496 with 16 home runs, 35 RBI, 50 runs scored, and nine stolen bases while playing above-average defense.

Cameron Maybin should see an increase in playing time in center as Springer has also been sharing time in right field with Josh Reddick.

Mike Fiers suspended five games for throwing at Luis Valbuena

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On Wednesday night, Astros starter Mike Fiers took exception when Angels third baseman Luis Valbuna flipped his bat after hitting a home run in the first inning. Fiers threw a pitch over Valbuena’s head in the fourth inning, causing umpire Cory Blaser to issue warnings to both benches. After the game, Fiers said, “I took [the bat flip] as disrespect.”

Fiers has been suspended five games by Major League Baseball for his actions and fined an undisclosed amount, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Fiers is not appealing his suspension, McTaggart notes, so his suspension will begin tonight. A five-game suspension for a starting pitcher really amounts to a one-game suspension since they go four games in between starts. The Astros can just push his next scheduled start back one day.

Fiers, 32, isn’t having a great season anyway. He’s 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA and a 146/62 K/BB ratio in 153 1/3 innings.

As I wrote yesterday, Major League Baseball can’t say “there’s no right or wrong way to play,” then allow pitchers to throw baseballs at players’ head for purportedly playing “the wrong way” by giving them meaningless punishments. In a perfect world, Fiers’ punishment should give him incentive to never throw at a hitter’s head again.