Red Sox

Indians win 19th straight, sixth-longest streak in MLB history

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Indians win 19th straight, sixth-longest streak in MLB history

CLEVELAND -- One more day. One more game. One more win.

The Cleveland Indians are ripping off victories like few teams before them.

And, they're not finished.

With their latest lopsided win, the Indians extended the majors' longest winning streak in 15 years to 19 games on Monday night by blowing out the Detroit Tigers 11-0 to move closer to a record that has stood for 101 years.

Francisco Lindor tripled home three runs off rookie Myles Jaye (0-1) in the second inning, and the Indians, who haven't lost since Aug. 23, prolonged the third-best winning streak since 1947.

But while they may be the talk of baseball, Cleveland's players are taking it all in stride.

To them, it's no big deal.

"Surprised? I don't want to say I'm surprised," said Lindor, who is batting. 338 during the streak. "We haven't really paid attention to it. We're just enjoying the ride and trying to focus on what we have in front of our feet. Today is in the past already. We focus on what we have tomorrow and we'll see what happens."

Cleveland is the sixth team to win at least 19 straight, and the streak is the longest since the 2002 Oakland Athletics won 20 in a row - a run that was celebrated in the film "Moneyball."

The Indians can match those A's on Tuesday, and their chances of getting No. 20 are strong with AL Cy Young Award contender Corey Kluber starting.

At this point, it hardly matters who's on the mound.

The defending AL champions aren't just rolling, they're steamrolling, outscoring opponents 132-32 during a stretch that includes six shutouts.

They're making it look easy, but manager Terry Francona refuses to make more of the streak.

"I get it," Francona said. "I just don't feel like going there. I think it sends the wrong message. I think our message is always consistent, that, `Hey, show up and try to outplay them today.' I think they're doing a good job, that's the understatement."

Carlos Carrasco (15-6) struck out nine in six innings, Lindor had four RBIs and Jose Ramirez hit a two-run homer as the Indians lowered their magic number to clinch the Central to six.

Cleveland joined the 1906 Chicago White Sox (19), the 1947 New York Yankees (19), the 2002 A's (20), the 1935 Chicago Cubs (21) and the 1916 New York Giants (26) as the only teams to reel off 19 consecutive wins. The Giants' record run is in the books as the major league mark, although it did include a tie, which does not count as an official game in baseball, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Even tying these Indians during a game has been nearly impossible.

Cleveland has trailed in only four of 171 innings, scored first in 18 of 19 games and has hit 38 homers. In a season where other teams have displayed dominance, the Indians stand alone.

"In the whole picture they're the best team in baseball," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "No offense to the Dodgers and the Astros. Between their starting pitching, their bullpen, their athleticism, their lineup, they can get you from both sides of the plate."

Cleveland's streak has happened despite the team missing three of its best players: All-Star reliever Andrew Miller, All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley and second baseman Jason Kipnis. They're all on the disabled list.

"It's just the next guy up," Kipnis said. "It doesn't matter who it is or what goes down. We like the depth that we have. We have the players that go out and compete each night and you're going to win a lot of games when guys play with that attitude."

Red Sox offense quiet again in 4-1 loss to Twins

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Red Sox offense quiet again in 4-1 loss to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS - Robbie Grossman and Max Kepler homered to back an effective start by Lance Lynn as the Minnesota Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Grossman led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run and Kepler added a two-run shot off Boston starter David Price (8-5). Brian Dozier added a pair of doubles to help Minnesota win for the fourth time in five games.

Lynn (5-5) again struggled with command, issuing five walks, but he surrendered just one unearned run and three hits in five innings.

Four relievers combined for four scoreless innings with Fernando Rodney securing his 16th save in 19 chances.

Price allowed the three runs on seven hits and a walk. He had given up just one home run in his previous five starts and seven total in 14 starts this season coming into Wednesday.

The Red Sox were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and are 2 for 22 in the first two games of the series. They've stranded 18 baserunners in the two games and lost for the fourth time in five games.

Lynn has had an uncharacteristic wild season in his first year with the Twins. He walked at least five batters for the fifth time in 14 starts. But the veteran right-hander has limited the damage and allowed less than three runs in five of his last six starts.

Boston's lone run scored in the second as Lynn couldn't catch first baseman Logan Morrison's high throw to first for the final out of the inning, allowing Mitch Moreland to score from second base.

Drellich: Every move Red Sox, Yankees make has new meaning

Drellich: Every move Red Sox, Yankees make has new meaning

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry has a newfound sense of urgency. A feeling that every move counts and will count, be it at the trade deadline in a month and a half, or when Alex Cora determines his second baseman on a nightly basis.

It's not because these franchises hate each other, because of their steep history. It's because they actually have to best the other, or suffer an unwelcome consequence.

Unlike the early 2000s, both teams cannot enter the playoffs on equal footing. A second-place finish in the American League East will sting. Participating in the Wild Card game for the right to move on to the five-game Division Series will be a stomach-turning experience for one of these two teams.

The upshot presently: even as the Sox and Yanks play teams that are uninspiring, and there are plenty such clubs, there is reason for fans and players alike to stay intently focused. (In the midst of a 162-game season, there will be lapses for everyone.) There is reason to care, in fact, if the ideal lineup or pinch-hit decision is made by Alex Cora, at every juncture. There is reason to care about whether Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has sufficiently helped rebuild the farm system, because it’s a matter of depth options now and via trade.

The Sox can have the best record in the majors in June, or be one win off the pace-setters, and the smallest of details will still matter. “They’re great,” doesn’t cut it. “Is this move optimal to beat the Yankees, the team that can relegate the Sox to a one-game playoff scenario?” is the question to be answered

As trade season arrives, the concept of the marginal win is out the window for both clubs. Or it should be. In divisions where one team is clearly superior, the need to add by trade isn’t always so clear. What’s the difference between 93 wins and 95 wins if you’re heading to the Division Series either way? Is the slight upgrade worth whatever you’re giving up?

The playoffs are always a crapshoot. But the Sox and Yanks are playing to avoid the biggest crapshoot of all in the Wild Card.

Passion between fan bases in the regular season wasn’t lacking 15 years ago. It was greater, obviously. But for different reasons. Second place in the division was usually a matter of bragging rights, rather than actual reward or worthiness. 

We’ve returned to a world where the Sox and Yanks are clearly better than virtually everyone. Were the rest of the AL stronger this year, the Wild Card could be a blessing for the Sox or the Yanks — a chance to make a postseason run that did not previously exist when there were four playoff teams instead of five. 

But the present landscape shows three powerhouses, and two of them happen to be classic rivals in the East. What they do before October means more now than it used to.

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