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.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.