Red Sox

Indians tie it in ninth, win it in 10th for record 22nd straight victory

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Indians tie it in ninth, win it in 10th for record 22nd straight victory

CLEVELAND -- On a winning streak that just won't stop, the Cleveland Indians have posted shutouts, blowouts and routine wins.

All that was missing were a walk-off victory and extra innings.

"Check those two off," closer Cody Allen said. "We're checking all the boxes."

And check this out: 22 in a row.

Jay Bruce hit an RBI double in the 10th inning - after Francisco Lindor tied it with a clutch double in the ninth - as the Indians rallied for their 22nd straight win to extend their AL record, beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Thursday night.

Cleveland moved within four wins of matching the 1916 New York Giants for the longest streak in major league history. A few hours later, it became the first AL team to clinch a postseason spot when the Angels lost to the Astros.

A three-week romp through the league finally had some real drama to keep baseball's longest winning streak in 101 years intact.

Even before the rally, Allen looked at his teammates in the bullpen and knew something special was about to happen.

"In the ninth, we were saying, `We're gonna walk them off,'" said Allen (3-6). "We thought we were going to walk them off right there. You win enough games in a lot of different ways, you see what those guys are capable of."

Allen and the Indians only had to wait a little longer until Jose Ramirez scored the winning run.

With the crowd signing "Jose, Jose, Jose," Ramirez led off the 10th with a hard hit into right-center off Brandon Maurer (2-2) that he turned into a double with a head-first slide. After Edwin Encarnacion walked, Bruce, the recent arrival who hit a three-run homer in win No. 21 on Wednesday, ripped a 2-0 pitch into the right-field corner.

As Progressive Field shook like it usually does in October, Bruce reached second base and was quickly mobbed by his teammates, who doused him with ice water and talcum powder while tearing the front of his jersey.

"Kids these days are throwing everything," Bruce said with a laugh. "You never know what you're going to get hit with out there. It's my first jersey rip off, for sure. They didn't get it all, though."

These Indians aren't stopping for anything.

Down to their last strike in the ninth, the Indians rallied to tie it at 2 off closer Kelvin Herrera, with Lindor delivering his shot off the left-field wall, just above the leap of four-time Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon, to score pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez from first.

"The ball actually hit off the top of my glove," Gordon said. "It was in a perfect spot where you had to decide whether to play it off the wall or go for it. I thought if I played it off the wall, he scores anyway, so I had to go for it."

Lindor's ball caromed off the wall and rolled slowly across the grass in left field, and 30,874 fans who have watched the Indians overpower teams for the last three weeks soon saw the AL Central leaders pull off their most dramatic win this season.

The Indians entered the day tied with the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second-longest streak, and now only trail those `16 Giants, who won 26 in a row - all at home.

The Giants won 12 straight, played a 1-1 tie, and then won 14 in a row. But because the tied game was replayed from the start the next day, it didn't technically count and therefore didn't stop New York's streak.

Unlike many of Cleveland's game's over the past three weeks, this one required a little late-innings work by the Indians, who have outscored their opponents 142-37 during this unimaginable run that has put them on the cusp of another Central title and possibly finish with the league's best record.

"This doesn't really happen anywhere," said Bruce, who came over in an Aug. 9 trade from the New York Mets. "You can hit that lull in September and even though you've got all but wrapped up the division, you know, the games can get long. They can get boring. They can get monotonous. We have a lot of things going for us that make it not like that.

"People are going crazy. It's a playoff atmosphere. We're trying to get the best record in baseball."

If not for Lindor, the Indians' streak would have stopped.

With one out in the ninth, pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin singled to left off Herrera, who then got rookie Francisco Mejia to bounce into a force. But Lindor, the blossoming superstar shortstop who has been Cleveland's best hitter throughout the streak, came through with his double.

"For a second, when I hit it, I was like, `Oh no, I went the other way. I hit it to the wrong guy,'" Lindor said. "Then, I saw it hit the wall and the emotions were pretty high. Just seeing the whole entire crowd was fun, and then seeing your teammates screaming on the top step of the dugout is pretty special."

So is this team.

Martinez tells Red Sox he would DH, but others want him as outfielder

Martinez tells Red Sox he would DH, but others want him as outfielder

Free agent slugger J.D. Martinez has told the Red Sox he would DH and play the outfield for them, a baseball source said Friday.  The flipside: teams are offering Martinez a full-time outfield job, and he enjoys playing the outfield.

Martinez, the best bat available via free agency, visited with teams at the winter meetings this week.

Michael Silverman of the Herald wrote Friday that Martinez has been telling teams he prefers to play the outfield, and suggested the Sox will have to pay a bit more to land Martinez.

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“Martinez remains open to being a DH so his preference to play defense regularly does not eliminate the Red Sox from signing Martinez,” Silverman wrote. “It does, however, put them in a position of having to make an aggressive offer that would distance themselves from competing offers where teams can present a corner outfield position. 

“Just what defines aggressive is something only Martinez and his agent Scott Boras will ultimately determine.”

The market could start to move a bit now, although that doesn’t mean anything is necessarily imminent. Another baseball source on Friday night noted that the market has started to thaw with Carlos Santana off the board. He agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies.

The Red Sox made an offer for Santana, but the offer made clear that Santana was not their primary choice. In other words, it wasn't close to what Santana ended up with.

A scenario in which Jackie Bradley Jr. is traded to make room for Martinez in the outfield seems reasonable, even if the Red Sox and Boras, who represents Bradley, have both downplayed that possibility.

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Scratch another Red Sox' target - Santana goes to Phillies

Scratch another Red Sox' target - Santana goes to Phillies

The Red Sox options for a power bat grew fewer and likely more expensive Friday when former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com and MLB Network was first to report the Santana deal, which comes as somewhat as a surprise with the rebuilding Phillies making a free-agent splash.  

The Red Sox reportedly met with Santana earlier this offseason. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Sox offered a three-year deal to Santana that wasn't in the range of the Phillies. 

He doesn't hit for a high average (.249 career), but his combination of power and walks gives him a career OPS of .810. Last season he hit .259 with 23 homers and 79 RBI and an .818 OPS, and over his career, he has averaged 25 home runs and 85 RBI over 162 games. 

That Santana was able to command a $20-million-a-year deal from the Phillies likely raises the price of the other power bats the Sox had reportedly targeted, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer.