For the first time since August 23, the Cleveland Indians lost a Major League Baseball game on Friday, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Kansas City Royals. The loss snapped the Indians’ American League record 22-game winning streak, the second longest streak in Major League history.
As crazy as it sounds, Friday wasn't the first time that Indians' starter Trevor Bauer had been the losing pitcher as his club had a 22-game winning streak snapped. While in college at UCLA in 2010, the Bruins opened the season 22-0. Bauer was the unfortunate pitcher on the hill who took the loss that broke the streak while attempting to make it 23 straight wins.
Bauer joked after the game that 22-game winning streaks aren't kind to him and the next time the Indians are put in this situation they should have someone else pitch that 23rd game.
After the game concluded, the Indians received a well-deserved standing ovation from the home crowd in Cleveland. Indians’ manager Terry Francona, staff and players returned the favor, emerging from the dugout to salute the fans for their tremendous support during the streak.
Francona gushed about the fans afterwards noting, “"They've been so supportive… It's just been pretty incredible how they've reacted and we just wanted to show our appreciation, because we don't take it for granted."
Jose Ramirez continued to build his resume for the American League MVP award during Friday’s loss, clubbing a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Indians a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately, that would wind up being the extent of their offense.
Over his last 19 games, Ramirez has slashed an other-worldly .413/.451/.947 with nine homers and 16 RBI.
The Indians will enter play on Saturday with a magic number of 2 to clinch the American League Central Division title. They still hold a two-game advantage over the Astros for the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs.
With the Dodgers winning on Friday however, the Tribe now sits 4 ½ games behind them for the best record in all of baseball.
All that’s left for the Indians to do now is get healthy and ready for the postseason where they’ll attempt to rectify last season’s demons and bring home a World Championship for the first time since 1948.
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Chaos at Wrigley
A bit of a chaotic scene erupted at Wrigley Field during the fifth inning of a pivotal battle between the Cubs and Cardinals.
The Cardinals entered the three-game weekend set trailing the Cubs by three games in the race for the National League Central.
With the score knotted up at 1-1 in the fifth inning, John Lackey delivered a cutter over the middle of the plate on a 2-2 pitch to Carlos Martinez that should have been called strike three. It was so obviously a strike, that Martinez put his head down and started walking back to the Cardinals’ dugout before home plate umpire Jordan Baker even called the pitch.
Martinez even admitted through a translator after the game that he was surprised by the call and did think that it was strike three.
Inexplicably though, Baker called it ball three. Lackey was furious. The veteran right-hander tried to plead his case to Baker, but to no avail.
Lackey’s wife, Kristina, took to Twitter to show the world where the pitch really was and to voice her disdain over the poor call.
Naturally, the at-bat continued and Martinez lined a go-ahead RBI single into right-center that gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. That’s when Lackey lost it. He got in the face of umpire and made sure that he felt his displeasure, earning a quick ejection.
Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras also showed his rage over the terrible call, getting tossed by Baker as well. During his spat, Contreras clammed his catcher’s mask down on the ground and it actually bounced and hit the home plate umpire. It’s unclear if there will be any further disciplinary action pursued against him for the incident.
The Cubs wouldn’t be down long though, as they rallied for seven runs in the sixth inning to secure an 8-2 victory, extending their lead over the Cardinals to four games.
All in the Family
In Friday’s lopsided victory over the Nationals, Corey Seager slugged his 20th home run of the season. He now has 32 doubles and 20 long balls in 131 games in his age-23 season.
His brother, Mariners’ third baseman Kyle Seager, has 25 home runs and 31 doubles on the year. Having both of them hit 30 or more doubles and 20 or more long balls in the same season is quite the rare accomplishment.
In fact, it’s just the third time that it has been done in major league history.
The first was accomplished by Brian and Marcus Giles during the 2003 campaign. The other, was these same hard-hitting Seager brothers in 2016. That’s it.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it won’t be the last time that they replicate the feat either. As Kyle is the elder statesman of the Seager clan at just 29-years-old, there’s a lot of good baseball still to be played for both of them.
American League Quick Hits: Andrew Heaney is progressing in his recovery from a shoulder impingement, though there remains no clear timetable for his return… Hanley Ramirez was held out of Friday’s lineup and underwent an MRI on his left biceps… Todd Frazier was held out of action on Friday due to back stiffness. He’s considered day-to-day… Steve Pearce missed another game due to his sore back… Miguel Sano (shin) did some light hitting work in the cages on Friday as he continues to inch toward a return to the Twins… Adam Jones missed Friday’s game due to general leg soreness… The Tigers acquired Elvin Rodriguez from the Angels to complete the Justin Upton trade… Mike Napoli (ankle) is unable to play the field and could be relegated to pinch-hitting for the rest of the season… Daniel Mengden fired the first complete game shutout of his big league career, limiting the Phillies to just two hits while striking out seven in a masterful performance… Matt Olson clubbed a two-run homer to pace the offense in that one. He has now hit 15 homers in his last 30 games, 11 of those in his last 17 contests… Luis Severino fanned seven over eight innings of two-run ball in a victory over the Orioles… Anibal Sanchez piled up 11 strikeouts over six innings of one-run baseball in a no-decision against the White Sox… James Paxton struggled in his return from the DL, allowing three runs in 1 ⅓ innings in a loss to the Astros… Nomar Mazara left Friday’s game against the Angels due to left quad tightness… Charlie Morton fanned seven while allowing just one run over six innings to beat the Mariners…. Wilson Ramos blasted a pair of home runs in a loss against the Red Sox… Dustin Pedroia went a woeful 0-for-9 in a marathon 15-inning victory over the Rays… Blake Parker recorded the final six outs against the Rangers to earn his sixth save.
National League Quick Hits: Noah Syndergaard (lat) looked good in a “max effort” 30-pitch bullpen session on Thursday and could potentially work an inning or two out of the Mets’ bullpen as early as Saturday… Jorge Alfaro is expected to receive the bulk of the remaining starts behind the plate for the Phillies and is worth a look in deeper leagues and two-catcher formats… Dexter Fowler (knee) missed his fifth consecutive game on Friday… Addison Russell (foot) believes he’s game-ready and looks as though he’ll rejoin the Cubs on Saturday… Kolten Wong was lifted from Friday’s game against the Cubs after aggravating his back injury… Amed Rosario was held out of action on Friday due to his hip flexor injury… Tyler Flowers (hand) isn’t expected to return to the Braves’ lineup until Tuesday… Gorkys Hernandez could miss the remainder of the season due to a sprained left wrist… Matt Kemp was forced to leave Friday’s game with a tight right hamstring… J.D. Martinez was scratched from the Diamondbacks lineup due to left neck stiffness… Alex Wood earned his 15th victory with six shutout innings against the Nationals… Justin Turner swatted his 20th home run in that win… Joey Votto crushed his 35th homer in a win over the Pirates… Zack Cozart blasted a pair of long balls in that contest as well… Robbie Ray picked up his 14th victory, striking out 10 Giants over seven innings of one-run ball… Eric Thames homered for the third straight game, and 31st time this season, in a victory over the Marlins… Domingo Santana launched a three-run homer, his 25th, while Neil Walker added a grand slam in that rout.