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Indians stretch winning streak to 18 with win over Orioles

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Indians stretch winning streak to 18 with win over Orioles

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor broke two bats, borrowed one from a teammate, and hit a home run.

It's been like that for the Cleveland Indians of late.

The Indians stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 18 games, beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Sunday night behind homers from Lindor and Roberto Perez in the sixth inning.


Cleveland's streak is the longest in the majors since Oakland won 20 straight in 2002. The best run in baseball history belongs to the New York Giants, who had a 26-game streak in 1916, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Giants' streak included a tie, which doesn't count as a game in baseball.

Lindor's home run followed Perez's leadoff shot that snapped a 1-all tie. Cleveland's All-Star shortstop broke two bats while running the count to 3-2 against Jeremy Hellickson, then walked to the dugout looking for help. Teammate Abraham Almonte obliged.

"I had no more bats," Lindor said. "I ran out of bats. I prefer to use one that has my handle, so I just saw him and I was like, `Hey, let me use yours.'"

There was one problem, however, with the replacement. Lindor thought his chances to get a hit were slim because he uses a lighter and smaller model, but he hit the next pitch into seats in right field for his 29th homer.

Lindor turned to the dugout before leaving the batters' box and smiled at his teammate.

"I looked at the barrel and I was like `No, there's no chance.' As soon as I hit it, I just looked at him like, `This is a good bat,'" he said.

This latest win came with a drawback: Indians rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer broke a bone in his left hand. Zimmer slid into first base trying to beat out a ground ball and got his hand stepped on. Manager Terry Francona said Zimmer will see a hand specialist this week.

The crowd of 21,259 roared in the ninth inning as Cody Allen recorded his 26th save. He struck out the first two hitters and retired Trey Mancini on a line drive to right field to end the game.

Cleveland hasn't lost since Aug. 23 and has outscored its opponents 121-32 in the streak. Cleveland has trailed in only four of 162 innings during the stretch.

The Indians are a game ahead of Houston for the league's best record and reduced their magic number to clinch the AL Central to seven. Cleveland trailed Houston by 14 games on July 22.

The New York Yankees won 19 in a row in 1947, which the Indians can match Monday against Detroit, but Francona doesn't want his players to change their approach.

"Maybe this thing gets more carried away with other people as opposed to us," he said. "We just play the game."

Trevor Bauer (16-8) allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander moved into a tie with Boston's Chris Sale for the league lead in wins and has won nine straight decisions.

Jose Ramirez, back in the lineup after missing three games with a sore wrist, had an RBI groundout in the first. Baltimore tied it in the sixth on Jonathan Schoop's single.

Chris Davis hit a solo homer in the seventh for Baltimore, which has lost four straight and is three games out of the wild-card race. Hellickson (3-3) allowed three runs in six innings.

"At this point, we need to win every game," Davis said. "There's a lot stacked against us, we know that, but we're still in the fight."

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."