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Indians win 14th straight, beat Blue Jays 2-1 in 19 innings

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TORONTO — A franchise-best 14th straight win sure didn’t come easy for the Cleveland Indians.

Carlos Santana homered in the 19th inning off infielder Darwin Barney and the Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 on Friday.

“I guess if you’re going to set a record, you might as well do it the hard way,” Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer said.

Cleveland won 13 straight in 1942 and again in 1951.

It’s the longest winning streak since Atlanta won 14 straight in 2013, and the longest by an AL team since Oakland won 20 in a row in 2002.

Santana doubled and scored in the third as the surging Indians survived a marathon game and disappointed a sellout crowd that came for a Canada Day matinee that lasted 6 hours and 13 minutes, featured 19 pitchers and saw 34 left on base.

The 19 innings matched the longest game in Blue Jays history. Toronto played 19 against Detroit in August 2014.

Having used seven of their eight relievers, the Indians turned to Bauer, Saturday’s scheduled starter, in the 15th. Bauer (7-2) worked five innings for the win.

“I thought what Trevor did was above and beyond,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Only closer Cody Allen, who was unavailable after working the previous three games, did not pitch for Cleveland.

After seven Blue Jays relievers combined to pitch 10 1-3 scoreless innings, Toronto turned to infielder Ryan Goins in the 18th.

Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall began the inning with singles, but Ramirez was caught in a rundown on Michael Martinez‘s fielder’s choice grounder. After intentionally walking Tyler Naquin, Goins got out of the bases-loaded jam by getting Chris Gimenez to ground into a double play.

Barney, who started the game at second base, replaced Goins in the 19th. The infielders became the ninth and 10th position players to pitch for Toronto.

“That’s a weird game,” Francona said. “Shoot, they’re matching up with infielders.”

Santana greeted Barney (0-1) with a drive to right-center, his 17th.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with two outs in the 14th but Joba Chamberlain got reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson to ground out.

Donaldson nearly tied it in the 19th but his drive to right was caught on the warning track.

“I thought he hit it out for sure,” Bauer said. “He hit it and I was like `You’ve got to be kidding me.”‘

Toronto’s only run came in the sixth when Justin Smoak snapped an 0-for-18 slump by homering off Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin. It was the eighth of the season for Smoak and the 100th of his career.

The Blue Jays lost major league RBI leader Edwin Encarnacion when he was ejected for arguing after being called out on strikes to end the first inning. Manager John Gibbons was also ejected.

All three Blue Jays batters were called out on strikes in the first, with Encarnacion livid after being rung up on a 3-2 pitch that looked outside.

Encarnacion made contact with home plate umpire Vic Carapazza’s left shoulder after being ejected. Gibbons rushed out to break up the argument and was also tossed.

Catcher Russell Martin was ejected by Carapazza after striking out to end the 13th. A fuming Martin had to be restrained by bench coach DeMarlo Hale and third base coach Luis Rivera as he screamed at Carapazza.

“He just wasn’t very good today,” Martin said of Carapazza. “All the things that everybody in the ballpark were thinking, I didn’t say that. I felt like he really didn’t have to throw me out.”

Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis extended his hitting streak to 13 games with an RBI single off Marcus Stroman in the third.

UNEXPECTED EFFORT

Expected to start Saturday, Bauer he threw what he called a “fairly intense” bullpen and lifted weights Thursday, then lifted again before Friday’s game. “Physically, I’m exhausted,” he said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: OF Jose Bautista (left big toe) is not expected to return before the All-Star break, Gibbons said. Bautista was injured June 16 at Philadelphia.

UP NEXT

Indians: Cleveland’s starter for Saturday is unknown after Bauer was used in relief. “We’re working through that right now,” Francona said afterward. “We’ve got some things we’ve got to talk through.”

Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (5-3, 2.81) has allowed at least one home run in each of his past five starts.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.