CLEVELAND -- Even in the most improbable of circumstances, the Cleveland Indians just keep on winning.
The Indians were quite literally down to their last strike against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field Thursday night, but rather than having their American League-record win streak snapped, they found a way to score runs in their final two at-bats to earn the 3-2 victory in walk-off fashion.
The come-from-behind win was the Indians’ (91-56) 22nd straight victory, which is the second-longest streak in the history of Major League Baseball.
“This team has no quit in it whatsoever,” Indians starter Josh Tomlin said.
“Even in the games we’re up by four or five, you still play every out, and I think that goes to show you when you get in different situations like we got in, you play to that last out, and maybe, extend the game a little bit and have a chance to win, and that’s what happened.”
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Despite coming up short in the sixth and eighth innings, the Indians broke through with a key hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor hit an RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning off of Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera and drove in pinch runner Erik Gonzalez from first base, and that clutch two-base hit knotted the score at 2-2.
Lindor smacked a 1-2 pitch from Herrera high enough off the wall in left field that Alex Gordon could not reach it, and the ricochet allowed Gonzalez to sprint home all the way from first base.
Then, courtesy of a lead-off double from second baseman Jose Ramirez and RBI double from outfielder Jay Bruce, the Indians completed the comeback win in the 10th inning and sent the 30,874 fans home happy.
With the win, the Indians (91-56) dropped their "Magic Number" to clinch their second-straight American League Central Division Championship down to three, and with the Houston Astros’ win over the Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland became the first team in the AL to clinch a playoff spot.
“It’s just a testament to this team,” Tomlin said. “You play every out like we do, you pitch like we do, the little things like we do, practice like we do, everything we do, we do it together, and we do it to try to be good.
“I think that’s just a testament to the hard work that we’ve done throughout the course of the year to be able to clinch this early or clinch in this homestand. It’d be nice to do it in front of our home fans. I don’t think we got to do it at all last year.”