CLEVELAND -- There’s no place like home.
The Cleveland Indians wanted to clinch the 2017 American League Central Division Championship in front of the home fans at Progressive Field, and celebrate with the city of Cleveland is exactly what they got to do following a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals Sunday.
“It’s special,” All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “It’s special doing it at home.”
PHOTOS: Cleveland Indians celebrate American League Central Division Championship
According to starting pitcher Josh Tomlin, the Indians wanted to clinch the division championship in order to reward the fans for their support through the season, particularly, the American League-record 22-game winning streak.
The Indians had three straight sellouts over the weekend against the Royals, which gave them a total of 12 this season, the most since 2001.
“We had talked about how fun it would be to do this in front of our crowd, to have our families here, and more importantly, for this city, to do it in front of Cleveland, in front of our fans,” Tomlin said. “They were huge on that run that we were going on. The support that they’ve given on this homestand has been huge, and this right here is for them.
“It doesn’t take 25 guys to get to this point. It takes a whole organization. From the people at the top who let you in the door to the clubhouse guys, it takes a whole organization, a whole team effort, a whole city, and we’re fortunate to have a good group of fans and the support of Cleveland. That means a lot to us.”
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When Lindor struck out swinging for the final out of the loss, the fans rose to their feet, nearly in unison, and gave the team a standing ovation for the three-week run of victories that has not happened in Major League Baseball in more than 100 years.
In the history of baseball, only the 1916 New York Giants won more consecutive games, 26, than the 2017 Indians.
Following the final out of their first loss since August 23 on Friday, the Indians recognized the fans and showed their gratitude by exiting the dugout, applauding the crowd and tipping their caps to the 34,025 in attendance.
“This is a ballpark we’re all very fond of, the city that’s become home for a lot of guys here,” closer Cody Allen said. “These fans here, they appreciate us so much, and they’ve shown us so much love and support over the last few years. We’re glad to do it at home.
“In 2013, when we won the Wildcard on the last day of the season, that was my first full season, and I didn’t take it for granted then, but we took some lumps the next two years. Then, last year, we were able to have a very good season and win the division.
“These things, you never take them for granted, regardless of what projections say at the beginning of the year, how good you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to win. That doesn’t always happen, but for these guys to come in this year, put in the work and go perform the way they did, it’s a long year and they should be proud of it.”