The Indians’ historic 22-game winning streak is over

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The Indians still own the second-longest winning streak in major league history, but their attempt to top the 1916 Giants’ 26-win streak is officially over. The club found it difficult to stay ahead of the Royals on Friday night, striking first on an Edwin Encarnacion sacrifice fly in the first inning and watching Alcides Escobar tie it up with a solo jack in the second inning.

Jose Ramirez harnessed a one-run lead in the third inning, barreling a Jason Vargas heater an estimated 425 feet over the left field fence and giving the team a minute to catch their breath:

Their advantage was short-lived. Brandon Moss catapulted a 404-footer in the fourth and was backed by two RBI from Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain. Vargas exited in the sixth, unable to harness a quality start in six consecutive attempts, but the Royals’ bullpen delivered where he could not. Ryan Buchter, Trevor Cahill and Mike Minor combined for four scoreless innings, limiting the offense to one hit and three walks and effectively quashing Cleveland’s chances of repeating Thursday’s theatrical walk-off.

That didn’t stop the Indians from making things interesting, from a wild catch in the eighth…

…to Yandy Diaz‘s pop up single in the ninth. Once Minor settled into a groove, however, he was unflappable, needing just 12 pitches to strike out the side and spoiling the Indians’ bid for good.

With the loss, the streak ends at 22 consecutive games, the longest winning streak in 101 years and second-longest in MLB history. The club is still four games away from tying the Dodgers’ 95-win mark and will need to stay ahead of them to clinch home field advantage throughout the postseason, but if anyone’s capable of getting there, it’s them.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.

The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.

As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.