EditorsNote: updates with Indians clinching playoff berth
Indians pull off 22nd straight win, seal playoff berth
CLEVELAND -- In a winning streak filled with blowouts, this was anything but.
Jay Bruce’s RBI double in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Indians a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, extending Cleveland’s American League-record winning streak to 22 games.
Hours later, when the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Houston Astros, the Indians clinched a playoff berth.
Cleveland owns the second-longest winning streak in major league history, trailing only the 26-game run by the 1916 New York Giants. The 1935 Chicago Cubs and the 1880 Chicago White Stockings had 21-game streaks.
“We’re in uncharted territory, and that’s an understatement,” Bruce said.
It was the first walk-off win by the Indians during their streak, in which they have outscored their opponents 142-37.
“This team has no quit whatsoever. We play every out,” Cleveland pitcher Josh Tomlin said.
Indians manager Terry Francona said, “That was a fun game to play. A great atmosphere. It felt like a playoff game.”
After Cleveland tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out, two-strike RBI double by Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez led off the bottom of the 10th with a hustle double to center field off Brandon Maurer (2-2). The hit was Ramirez’s fourth of the game.
Edwin Encarnacion drew a walk before Bruce hit a line drive down the right field line for a double.
Cleveland closer Cody Allen (3-6) pitched a scoreless top of the 10th.
The Indians are 15-0 in September, which ties the major league record for most consecutive wins to open a month. The Minnesota Twins did it in June 1991, and the Kansas City Royals did it in September 1977.
With the Indians trailing 2-1 and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Tyler Naquin, pinch-hitting for Brandon Guyer, singled off Royals closer Kelvin Herrera. Francisco Mejia, pinch-hitting for Yan Gomes, grounded into a forceout at second and was replaced by pinch runner Erik Gonzalez.
Lindor then doubled off the left field wall, scoring Gonzalez with the tying run.
“Right man, right spot. You just had a feeling,” Tomlin said.
Royals manager Ned Yost said, “To hold that team to one run is an accomplishment. We were hoping to make it hold up. Herrera was trying to go down and away, but it was up and more over the plate. (Lindor) is a good hitter, and he laced it that way.”
Herrera blew a save chance for the fifth time this season.
“(Lindor) certainly doesn’t seem to shrink from those situations,” Francona said. “We had a lot of opportunities to score (earlier in the game), but we couldn’t cash in. But when you’re at home, you’re a hit away.”
Tomlin gave up two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
During the winning streak Cleveland’s starting pitchers are 19-0 with a 1.77 ERA.
“You don’t win 22 games in a row without a great pitching staff,” Yost said.
In the sixth inning, with the score tied 1-1 and Royals right fielder Melky Cabrera on first, Eric Hosmer hit a fly ball down the left field line. Abraham Almonte, after a long run, attempted a sliding catch but missed. The ball bounced away for a double, scoring Cabrera and giving Kansas City a 2-1 lead.
After Tomlin retired the side in order in the first inning, the Royals took a 1-0 lead in the second. Hosmer led off with a walk, and he went to third on a single by Salvador Perez.
Mike Moustakas’ groundball to second baseman Ramirez was turned into a double play, but Hosmer scored to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead.
The Indians tied it with a run in the third inning on an RBI single by Lonnie Chisenhall. However, Tomlin struck out Alcides Escobar and Gordon to end the inning.
NOTES: The Indians activated LHP Andrew Miller off the disabled list, and he threw a scoreless inning. Miller had been on the DL twice since Aug. 2 with tendinitis in his right knee. ... Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis (hamstring) is expected to be activated off the disabled list on Sunday. ... Indians LF Lonnie Chisenhall was removed from the game in the sixth inning due to tightness in his right calf. ... Royals LHP Danny Duffy (left elbow impingement) is expected to be activated off the disabled list to start the Sunday game against the Indians. ... Royals 3B Mike Moustakas’ next home run would be his 37th, which would be a Royals record, breaking the mark set by Steve Balboni in 1985. Moustakas, who has been bothered by sore knee, has one home run in his past 24 games.