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Indians win their 15th consecutive game

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The Indians are now proud owners of a 15-game winning streak after defeating the White Sox 11-2 in Chicago on Thursday evening. The offense jumped on White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey for seven runs in the first three innings and never looked back.

Four runs came in the first inning on an RBI double from Austin Jackson and a three-run home run from Edwin Encarnacion. After the White Sox got solo homers from Yolmer Sanchez and Jose Abreu to cut the lead in half, the Indians got a run back in the second on Francisco Lindor‘s solo homer. In the third, Erik Gonzalez blasted a two-run shot to make it 7-2. Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly and Greg Allen hit a two-run homer in a three-run seventh. Gonzalez tacked on a solo homer in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Corey Kluber was excellent. He gave up just the two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out 13. He’s strengthening his case in the AL Cy Young Award race. The right-hander now has a 2.56 ERA with a 235/34 K/BB ratio in 175 2/3 innings.

Shawn Armstrong pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of Kluber. Craig Breslow tossed a scoreless ninth to seal the deal.

The Indians’ 15-game winning streak is only the 23rd streak of at least that length dating back to 1913, according to Baseball Reference. The last team to win at least 15 in a row was the 2002-03 Giants, who won 15 straight from September 20, 2002 to April 7, 2003. Within one season, the 2002 Athletics have that honor. They won 20 straight between August 13 and September 4. The longest winning streak without a tie since 1913 is 21 by the 1935 Cubs (September 4-27). The 1916 New York Giants won 26 games without losing, but also had a tie in the 13th game of a 27-game span.

Indians trade Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers

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The Cleveland Indians have traded two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. In exchange, Texas is sending center fielder Delino DeShields and pitcher Emmanuel Clase to the Indians. There are reports that the Indians will be getting more than just those two players, but no word yet. The deal is pending physical.

Kluber made only seven starts this past year thanks to a broken arm and a strained oblique muscle. When he did pitch he was no great shakes, posting a 5.80 ERA and 44 hits in 35.2 innings. Those were freak injuries that do not suggest long-term problems, however, so there’s a good reason to think he’ll bounce back to useful form, even if it’s a tough ask for him to return to the form that won him the 2014 and 2017 Cy Young Award.

Before his injury-wracked 2019 campaign, Kluber pitched over 200 innings in each of his previous five seasons so mileage could be an issue. For his career he’s 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA (134 ERA+), a 2.99 FIP, and a K/BB ratio of 1,461/292 over 1,341.2 innings in nine big league seasons.

Unless there is cash coming from Cleveland in the deal, the Rangers will be paying him $17.5 million this year and a 2021 option of $14 million pursuant to the five-year, $38.5 million contract he inked with Cleveland before the 2015 season.

DeShields, 27, is a career .246/.326/.342 hitter (76 OPS+) and that’s about how he performed in 2019 as well. He was demoted to Triple-A Nashville in May. Clase, who will turn 22 before next season, pitched 21 games, all but one in relief, for the Rangers in 2019 and will still be considered a rookie in 2020. He has been used mostly as a reliever in the minors as well.

Pending what else the Tribe is going to be getting, this appears to be a light return for a pitcher who, despite his 2019 injuries, should be expected to come back and be a workhorse. Unless there is some real talent coming back, in addition to DeShields and Clase, it would seem to be a salary dump for Cleveland and a steal for Texas. It is likewise perplexing how any of the many, many teams who could use starting pitching — the Angels and the Mets, among others, come to mind — could not top the package Texas offered.