Indians tie AL record with 20th straight victory
CLEVELAND -- Considering what was at stake, the Cleveland Indians had the right man on the mound.
Corey Kluber pitched a five-hitter, and Francisco Lindor hit his 30th home run as the Indians tied the American League record with their 20th straight victory, a 2-0 decision over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Cleveland tied the AL mark set by the 2002 Oakland Athletics. The only longer streaks are 21 games by the 1935 Chicago Cubs and 26 by the 1916 New York Giants, although there was a tie game during New York’s streak.
The Indians have outscored their opponents 134-32 during their run. Their starting pitchers are 18-0 with a 1.71 ERA during the streak.
“We haven’t talked about it at all,” Kluber said of the winning streak. “I haven’t heard anybody talking about how many games in a row we’ve won. We’re aware of it just because the attention it gets, but it’s not something we’re focusing on. It’s more coming to the field each day and preparing to win a game.”
In further polishing his Cy Young Award candidacy, Kluber (16-4) struck out eight and did not walk a batter.
“He’s one of the best in the game,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “He throws four pitches. They all look the same coming out of his hand, but they all move differently.”
The shutout was the Indians’ seventh during their winning streak and their major-league-leading 19th of the season overall.
Tigers starter Matthew Boyd (5-10) pitched well but had to leave after five innings, having thrown 116 pitches. Boyd gave up one run and six hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
“We got some good pitching. We just couldn’t muster any runs against Kluber,” Ausmus said.
With two outs in the ninth, Kluber gave up a double to Alex Presley, bringing Miguel Cabrera to the plate. Cabrera is a career .404 hitter vs. Kluber, with six home runs and 12 RBIs in 57 at bats.
“Miggy’s the last guy you want to see hitting,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
However, Cabrera grounded out to third on Kluber’s 113th pitch of the night.
“That was a fun game to be a part of,” Francona said. “Our defense was great, and the way Kluber was pitching ...”
Leading 1-0 and having not cashed in on several rallies earlier in the game, the Indians pushed across a run in the sixth inning.
Blaine Hardy, in relief of Boyd, started the sixth and was greeted by a double by Carlos Santana, who went to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch by Drew VerHagen.
“Any run you give up with Kluber pitching can be a difference-maker,” Ausmus said.
Lindor led off the bottom of the first inning by hitting a 2-2 pitch from Boyd over the left field wall for his 30th home run. It’s Lindor’s third home run in the past four games and fourth in his past six.
“He’s growing into a player who uses the whole park to hit for average, has the power to hit it out of the park, and makes the plays on defense,” Francona said.
Kluber said, “Frankie’s defense was what got the attention initially, but he’s turned himself into more than just a great defensive player. He’s a great player overall.”
Cleveland had great scoring opportunities in the second and third innings, but Boyd pitched out of both jams.
In the second, he gave up three consecutive one-out singles to load the bases. However, Boyd struck out Yan Gomes and got Lindor to pop out to end the inning.
In the third, the Indians had runners at first and second with no outs but again failed to score.
“Boyd avoided the big inning, but the two bases-loaded situations pushed up his pitch count,” Ausmus said.
NOTES: Indians manager Terry Francona said LHP Andrew Miller (right knee tendinitis) would be activated off the disabled list Thursday or pitch a second simulated game on that day. ... Indians OF Bradley Zimmer had surgery Tuesday in New York to repair a broken bone in his left hand. A plate and nine screws were used to repair the fracture. Zimmer is estimated to return to full baseball activity in six to eight weeks. ... 2B Jason Kipnis (hamstring) could come off the DL and make his debut in center field Sunday, although Indians trainers said they think Sept. 19 might be a better date. Kipnis is a potential replacement for Zimmer in center field. ... Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer had ulnar nerve transposition surgery on his right elbow Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla. The operation was performed by Dr. James Andrews. ... Tigers DH Victor Martinez had a heart ablation surgery Monday.