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Indians set American League record with 21st consecutive victory

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Indians set American League record with 21st consecutive victory

CLEVELAND -- For more than 100 years, American League teams have gone on winning streaks of varying lengths - short ones, long ones, double-digit ones.

Nothing, though, like the one the Cleveland Indians have pieced together.

A streak for the ages.

Moving past the "Moneyball" Oakland Athletics, the Indians set the AL record with their 21st straight win on Wednesday, 5-3 over the Detroit Tigers, to join only two other teams in the past 101 years to win that many consecutive games.

Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer off Buck Farmer (4-3) and Mike Clevinger (10-5) won his fourth straight start as the Indians, a team with its sights set on ending the majors' longest World Series title drought, matched the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second-longest streak since 1900.

And in doing so, they separated themselves from every AL team since the league was formed in 1901.

"Who would've ever thought that we'd be in this situation?" Bruce said. "I can't even imagine."

Believe it.

Now that they've moved past those 2002 A's immortalized on film, the Indians are within five wins of catching the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 straight without a loss but whose century-old mark includes a tie.

The Indians haven't lost in 20 days, and they've rarely been challenged during a late-season run in which they've dominated every aspect of the game.

"I think they're enjoying themselves," manager Terry Francona said as clubhouse music boomed in the background. "They should. I think what's kind of cool about our game is when you do things, and you do them the right way, I think it means more. Our guys are playing the game to win, the right way.

"That part's very meaningful. They should enjoy what they're doing. It's pretty special."

After leading 4-1, the Indians had to overcome a costly error and rely on their bullpen to hold off the Tigers, who have lost 11 of 12 to Cleveland and saw manager Brad Ausmus and catcher James McCann ejected from the series finale.

Roberto Perez added a homer in the seventh and four Cleveland relievers finished, with Cody Allen working the ninth for his 27th save.

With the crowd of 29,346 standing and stomping, Allen retired Ian Kinsler on a sinking liner for the final out, giving the Indians the league's longest streak since the AL was founded 116 years ago.

There was no big celebration afterward as the Indians simply congratulated one another and stuck to their routine.

"We're so focused," said Bruce, who arrived via trade last month from the New York Mets. "I thought we were playing the Royals today. ... Everyone comes here and gets ready to play today and I think that's something that speaks volumes."

During their streak, which began with a 13-6 win over Boston ace Chris Sale on Aug. 23, the Indians have rarely been tied, never mind equaled, for nine innings. They have been superior in every way possible.

Cleveland's starters have gone 19-0 with a 1.70 ERA, they've outscored their opponents 139-35 and trailed in only four of 189 innings.

Incredibly, the Indians have hit more home runs (40) than their pitchers have given up in total runs.

And while they've racked up win after win, the defending AL champs have reduced their magic number for winning their second straight AL Central title to four. They've also passed Houston for the league's best record, which will come into play in the postseason as the team with the best overall mark will have home-field advantage.

Now that they're alongside the 1935 Cubs, the Indians have a realistic shot of running down the 1916 Giants.

Cleveland opens four-game series on Thursday against Kansas City, which was outscored 20-0 on its three-day visit last month.

Francona was asked if he thought the Giants' run should be the record since it includes a tie.

"I wasn't there," he said, drawing laughter. "I've given that zero thought. I promise you I've given it no thought."

With a shot at AL history, Clevinger took the mound with Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" blasting through the ballpark's sound system, and Cleveland's crowd came to rock - and witness history - on a mostly sunny day.

Some parents kept their kids home from school and brought them to Progressive Field to see a once-in-a-lifetime event Cleveland residents may remember more than any solar eclipse. They cheered every two-strike count like it was October and there was something much bigger on the line. The Indians have viewed the streak as a perfect postseason warmup as they try to end a Series title drought dating to 1948.

Clevinger, who didn't allow a run in 18 innings over his three previous starts, was down 1-0 in the first after Jeimer Candelario touched him for a two-out RBI double.

But as they have done for the past three weeks, the Indians responded, with Bruce connecting for a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers.

"Expected, I would say by now," Clevinger said of the Indians' 3-run answer. "I don't think there was a second that I doubted we were going to score some runs or string together some hits."

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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