Boston 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."

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.