Red Sox

Indians tie A.L. record with 20th consecutive victory

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Indians tie A.L. record with 20th consecutive victory

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor skipped through the doorway and into the Indians' clubhouse, where the pulsating music was at an ear-splitting level.

As many of his teammates dressed quickly with another game just 14 hours away, Cleveland's star shortstop worked the room, exchanging high-fives with anyone he could find.

It's almost unthinkable for a team to win 20 straight games.

Usually, that only happens in the movies.

"Moneyball" has its sequel.

Following a familiar script of scoring first, playing strong defense and riding dominant pitching, the Indians extended their winning streak to 20 and matched the A.L. mark held by the 2002 Oakland Athletics, beating the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Cleveland's streak, which began Aug. 24 against the Red Sox, is tied for the majors' second-longest in 82 years -- and the Indians show no signs of stopping.

"It's special," Lindor said. "As a kid, you dream about playing in front of a lot of fans and the crowd goes nuts. That's what you want. This is for them. It's not for us."

Lindor homered leading off the first and Corey Kluber (16-4) strengthened his Cy Young Award case with a five-hitter as Cleveland joined the 2002 A's, 1935 Chicago Cubs (21) and 1916 New York Giants (26) as the only teams since 1900 to win at least 20 in a row.

"It's pretty crazy," Kluber said. "To go almost three weeks without losing a game is not something that you ever really expect."

The Progressive Field crowd of 24,654, hanging on each pitch as though it was October, stood and roared when Kluber sprinted to the mound for the ninth.

Second baseman Jose Ramirez made a sensational diving stop in short right field to throw out Ian Kinsler for the second out, and after allowing a double to Alex Presley, Kluber sealed win No. 20 - and Cleveland's seventh shutout during the streak - by getting Miguel Cabrera on an easy grounder to third.

Fireworks exploded overhead and the Indians lined up single-file the same way they have for weeks to celebrate yet another win in this unlikely streak.

"For sure, it's something special," Lindor said. "It's going to be there forever."

Although they insist they're not focused on the streak, the Indians are playing as though they don't want it to end.

They're now within reach of the Giants' revered 101-year-old mark, which includes a tie that interrupted 12- and 14-game unbeaten runs. However, the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistical custodian for Major League Baseball, has always regarded the Giants' stretch as the gold standard because tie games were replayed from the start back then.

Cleveland can equal the Cubs' 21-game run Wednesday afternoon.

The Indians and A's, whose unexpected run to the postseason 15 years ago was re-told in the film starring Brad Pitt, don't have much in common besides their 20-game streaks.

Oakland was an overachieving squad loaded with pitching and a roster comprised of low-salaried players assembled by a front office that forced baseball to rethink how it evaluated talent. The Indians, on the other hand, have spent millions to get better, and have been expected to win -- big.

Maybe not at this amazing rate, but after getting to Game 7 in 2016, Cleveland was a favorite to return to the World Series.

Closing in on their second consecutive AL Central title, the Indians figured to keep things going with Kluber on the mound, and the right-hander continued his own superb stretch.

Kluber improved to 8-1 in his last nine starts and lowered his ERA to an AL-best 2.45 with his third shutout of the season and fifth complete game. He allowed a leadoff double in the first to Kinsler, but stranded him at third by striking out Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos to end the inning.

Cabrera came in batting .434 against Kluber but went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

The Tigers have been beaten six times by the Indians during their streak.

"In a way, it doesn't surprise me," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said of Cleveland's three-week dominance. "Because if any team could do it, it's them. They've got it all."

While understanding the fascination with his team's roll, Indians manager Terry Francona has been downplaying the streak so as not to make it a distraction. He chooses his words carefully whether he's talking to reporters, family or friends.

"I got one really good buddy, one of my best friends, but he's notoriously bad luck," Francona said. "Everybody kind of refers to him as like the gray cloud. He knows who he is and you talk about superstitions, I will not talk to him. He is a text only.

"Oh, yeah. He knows. It cost me one job, he's not getting in the way again."

ALCS: Judge home run sparks New York, Yankees beat Astros 6-4 to even series

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ALCS: Judge home run sparks New York, Yankees beat Astros 6-4 to even series

NEW YORK -  With a soaring shot headed for Yankee Stadium's Monument Park, Aaron Judge got New York back on track for another memorable October.

Judge ignited a rousing rally with a home run, then doubled during a four-run eighth inning to spur the unflappable New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and tie the AL Championship Series 2-2.

The Baby Bombers trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored when Gary Sanchez hit a go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.

The Yankees overcame three errors and have roared back from a second straight 0-2 series deficit - they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth to cap a three-hitter. New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs and won for the 18th time in their last 21 home games.

Yankee Stadium will be rocking again when Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday. It's a rematch of the series opener, when Keuchel outdid the Japanese right-hander in a 2-1 Astros win.

An AL MVP candidate marred in a sluggish October, Judge sparked the Yankees by chasing McCullers, who baffled the Yankees with his power breaking ball.

Except for the last one.

Judge launched a curveball into the netting above center field's Monument Park for New York's second hit.

"Once we're within striking distance like that, anything can happen," Judge said.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch pulled McCullers after 81 pitches, Didi Gregorius tripled off Chris Devenski and Sanchez brought Gregorius in with a sacrifice fly.

"I thought Aaron's home run just lit a little spark," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Todd Frazier led off the eighth with a double to left, and pinch hitter Chase Headley then did the same - only after falling between first and second base, taking one step back, then heading for second and sliding in ahead of Jose Altuve's tag.

"Panic," Headley recalled. "I went from one of the best feelings of my career to one of the worst in just a matter of seconds, but fortunately it worked out."

Brett Gardner brought in Frazier on a groundout, and Judge came to bat with the bundled crowd on its feet.

He reached down to stay with a slider and drilled a double high off the left-field wall as a fan in a longsleeve yellow shirt reached down and touched the ball. Gardner came home with the tying run, and Gregorius grounded a single just beyond shortstop Carlos Correa's reach to put runners at the corner. Sanchez, who had been 0 for 13 in the series, scored them both with a slicing drive that skipped to the wall in right-center.

Houston had not lost consecutive games since Sept. 8-10 at Oakland and the major leagues' best road record during the regular season. The Astros had just three hits and are hitting .153 in the series.

Yankees starter Sonny Gray pitched one-hit ball through five innings but again had no run support. His teammates have yet to score for him in four career postseason starts while he's still on the mound, including twice with New York this year.

Houston took a 3-0 lead in the sixth after George Springer walked leading off, and Josh Reddick reached on catcher's interference by Austin Romine - inserted into lineup for his defense.

Robertson walked Altuve and struck out Carlos Correa before Yuri Gurriel lined a three-run double past Frazier and all the way to the wall. Gurriel got hung up between second and third as Altuve scored, and he was tagged out by Judge to end a rundown.

Houston added a fourth run when second baseman Starlin Castro misplayed Brian McCann's grounder in the seventh, allowing Marwin Gonzalez to score from second. It was Castro's second error of the game.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Ron Gardenhire to interview with Red Sox Wednesday

Ron Gardenhire to interview with Red Sox Wednesday

BOSTON — Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire's interview for Red Sox manager is scheduled for Wednesday, a baseball source told NBC Sports Boston. He'll be the third to interview for John Farrell's old job, following favorite Alex Cora on Sunday and Brad Ausmus on Monday — and may be the last to interview as well. 

The Sox could move quickly from here. Announcing hiring is tricky this time of year, because MLB doesn't want personnel moves to detract from the playoffs. 

But if Cora ends up the choice, as is most likely, his introduction is further complicated by the fact that his team, Houston, is still playing — and could be playing in the World Series.

MORE:

Cora, who would be a first-time manager unlike Ausmus and Gardenhire, is close with Red Sox second baseman and leader Dustin Pedroia and is drawing interest across the game.

Gardenhire would be something of a safe hiring, considering his 13 years as manager of the Minnesota Twins. A few days shy of his 60th birthday, Gardenhire would have to prove he could handle a vastly different market than Minnesota, and also connect with players despite being older than both Ausmus (48) and Cora (41). 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE