The Indians didn’t let Friday’s loss turn into a skid. They got back on their feet with an 8-4 win over the Royals on Saturday as they continued counting down to the division title. Carlos Carrasco wasn’t at his best, scattering four runs and five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings, but Jason Hammel was worse, lasting a full six innings after giving up seven runs on 11 hits and a walk.
The offense came through for Carrasco in the bottom of the sixth inning. Francisco Lindor collected his 40th double of the year, a two-RBI line drive that also helped extend his extra-base hitting streak to 10 games. (He’ll need four more to tie Chipper Jones’ and Paul Waner’s all-time 14-game record.) Austin Jackson, on the other hand, roped a two-run single that looked a lot like a Little League home run:
A solo shot by Edwin Encarnacion and two solid innings from Cleveland’s bullpen helped seal the deal with a comfortable four-run lead. With the win, the Indians needed the Twins to take a loss to the Blue Jays in order to clinch the division title. The Twins were quick to oblige. Marco Estrada crafted eight innings of two-hit, four-strikeout ball, muffling Minnesota’s bats while Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales enjoyed multi-hit games.
Following the Blue Jays’ victory, the Indians found a new kind of winning streak, one they hadn’t replicated in 18 years: back-to-back division titles.
The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.
One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.
Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.
Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.