(Updated: UPDATES Royals standing in the fifth sentence)
The Cleveland Indians own the longest winning streak in American League history and have their sights set on recording the second-longest run in major league annals when they host the Kansas City Royals on Thursday in the opener of a four-game set. Cleveland defeated Detroit 5-3 on Wednesday for its 21st straight victory, breaking the record set by the 2002 Oakland Athletics and matching the 1935 Chicago Cubs.
“Our guys are enjoying it, and they should,” Indians manager Terry Francona, whose club has manhandled opponents 139-35 during the streak and reduced its magic number to win the AL Central to four, told reporters. “When you do something and do it the right way, you should enjoy it.” Cleveland is also about to get stronger as relief ace Andrew Miller will be activated Thursday after a second stint on the disabled list because of knee tendinitis. Kansas City, which lost the second, third and fourth games of the Indians’ streak by a combined 20-0, is four games behind Minnesota for the AL’s second wild card spot after a 5-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin and Kansas City rookie Jake Junis have each won five straight decisions with Tomlin winning both starts since returning from the disabled list (hamstring).
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Kansas City, STO (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Jake Junis (7-2, 4.34 ERA) vs. Indians RH Josh Tomlin (9-9, 5.13)
Junis received a no-decision after allowing two runs, eight hits and a walk while striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings of Kansas City’s 5-2 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. The 24-year-old Illinois native is unbeaten in his last eight appearances, posting a 3.18 ERA during that span to lower his season number by 1.32. Junis, who has a 2.48 ERA in his last six starts, pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief in the Royals’ 10-1 loss to Cleveland on Aug. 18, yielding four runs and five hits in his only career appearance versus the Indians.
Tomlin permitted two runs and four hits while striking out three across five innings of a 4-2 victory over Baltimore on Saturday. The 32-year-old Texan is unbeaten in his last seven starts and has a 2.57 ERA with 27 strikeouts and two walks over his last six turns covering 35 innings. Salvador Perez is 18-for-38 and Eric Hosmer 8-for-41 with two home runs versus Tomlin, who is 10-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 24 appearances (20 starts) versus Kansas City - 1-1, 1.93 in three starts this season.
1. Cleveland has more homers (40) than the total runs its opponents have scored during the streak.
2. Indians starters are 19-0 with a 1.70 ERA during the streak.
3. Cleveland has trailed for only four of the 189 innings during the streak.
PREDICTION: Indians 3, Royals 2