Did the Tribe win last night? Of course they did.
The Cleveland Indians completed a perfect 11-0 road trip by winning a franchise-record 15th straight game with a lopsided 11-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox to sweep a second straight four-game series to accomplish a feat never done in their 117-year history.
Corey Kluber had the starting nod, giving the Indians a favorable edge to break a record barely a year old. Putting the odds even more in the favor of the visiting Cleveland club was the fact that Chicago’s probable left-hander, Carlos Rodon, was scratched mere minutes before first pitch, forcing the White Sox to turn to veteran Mike Pelfrey, who had already worked two and one-third innings in relief just two nights prior. Pelfrey’s recent use may have shown quickly on the mound as the Indians raced out to a quick first inning lead and never looked back.
Francisco Lindor started a big night at the plate with a triple to lead off the game, setting up an early scoring opportunity for Austin Jackson. The former White Sox outfielder delivered with a double to center just five pitches into the ball game to put the visiting club up, 1-0. Yandy Diaz drew a walk to put two on for Edwin Encarnacion, who provided a deciding blow with a three-run blast to left. His 33rd homer of the season put the Indians up, 4-0.
The White Sox would cut that lead in half in their first trip to the plate against Kluber. Yolmer Sanchez started the Chicago effort with a solo homer to left to start the Sox’s evening and two batters later, Jose Abreu followed with a shot to center to make it a 4-2 game.
That would be as close as the White Sox would get.
Lindor, leading off a second straight inning against Pelfrey, started the second frame in a big way by getting a run right back, sending a solo homer over the wall in right. His 27th shot of the year made it a 5-2 game.
The Indians would make it a third straight inning with a homer as they would officially break open the game. Yan Gomes doubled to right-center and one out later, Erik Gonzalez drove his third homer of the season over the wall in left-center to make it a 7-2 game.
Kluber, despite the two-homer first, did his part to keep the game in check. He struck out the final two batters in the first, two more in the second, the final pair of the third, and the last two batters of the fourth to rack up eight strikeouts quickly. He allowed just his third hit of the night in the fifth, giving up a one-out single to Omar Narvaez after recording his ninth strikeout of the game to start the inning, but got a line out and strikeout number ten of the night to end the inning.
The Indians loaded the bases in the top of the sixth with a two-out rally against reliever Chris Beck, but left them loaded. Diaz was hit by a pitch and left the game for precautionary measures. Encarnacion singled to right and Carlos Santana drew a walk, but Lonnie Chisenhall left the ducks on the pond by lining out to first.
Kluber struck out the side in order in the sixth to give him 13 Ks on the night before his offense gave him even more support in the runs column. Bradley Zimmer doubled with one out and moved to third on a throwing error by center fielder Adam Engel. Gonzalez drove him home from third, sending Beck to the showers for rookie Jace Fry. He allowed Lindor to reach on a single and moved him to second on a wild pitch before switch-hitter Greg Allen did something that he had never done in his brief MLB career – send a pitch out of the yard. His first career homer pushed the Indians lead to 10-2.
The Tribe starter returned for the seventh, walking the first man before setting down the next three in order in the only inning of his night that was lacking a strikeout victim.
With the game and a 15th straight Indians win well under wraps, Chicago manager Rick Renteria spared his bullpen any more work in the ninth, sending reserve catcher Rob Brantly to the mound, but he gave another Indians hitter a first in the process. With one down in the frame, Gonzalez homered to right-center, hitting his second of the night and fourth of the season while providing the Indians with the first multi-homer game of his big league career. The shot gave Cleveland an 11-2 lead, a score that left-hander Craig Breslow would preserve with ease in the bottom of the inning to secure the 2017 Indians a place in franchise history forever.
Cleveland (84-56) moved yet another game closer to a playoff berth with its win while improving to an impressive 48-27 on the road on the year. The Tribe lead in the AL Central race remained at eleven with a Minnesota victory over Kansas City. The playoffs seem all the more secured, considering that if the red hot Indians were to close out the season at a .500 clip (finishing 95-67) that the Twins (73-67) would need to finish the rest of the regular season with a 22-0 record just to tie the Indians. The Indians, for situation sake, are playing at a .600 clip for the season.
Kluber worked seven innings of two-run baseball, giving up two mistakes in the first and just one more hit over his 21 outs on the night. He walked an additional batter in his final frame, but struck out 13 batters on the way to matching Trevor Bauer and Boston’s Chris Sale for the AL lead in wins at 15. He had 21 swings and misses on the night, more than the entire White Sox staff (15) had on the night.
Lindor had three hits for the Tribe and finished just a double short of the cycle while scoring three times on the night. Gonzalez had a pair of hits, both home runs, while Encarnacion added two hits and three RBI from the heart of the order.
The Indians now return home, where they will host the Baltimore Orioles for three straight over the weekend.
Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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