The Cleveland Indians followed the same formula that won them 14 straight games, and with an early offensive punch and solid pitching throughout, they set a new franchise record with their 15th consecutive victory, an 11-2 decision over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on the south side of “The Windy City,” Thursday night.
Including the four-game sweep of the White Sox (54-85), the Indians (84-56) have swept four straight series, against the Kansas City Royals, and then, on the road at the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Chicago, and have won 19 of their last 22 games away from Progressive Field.
With the win, the Indians dropped their “Magic Number” to clinch the American League Central Division down to 13 and still hold an 11-game lead over the Twins in the standings.
Now, the Indians are 2.5 games in back of the Houston Astros for the best record in the American League.
The Indians got on the board first with a four-run first inning, and never looked back in their historic victory.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor led off the game with a triple to the wall in deep right-center field on an 0-1 pitch from White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey, and came around to score when left fielder Austin Jackson doubled to center field.
After third baseman Yandy Diaz drew a walk, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion belted a three-run home run into the seats in left field. Encarnacion’s team-leading 33rd home run of the season gave the Indians a four-run advantage, but the White Sox got two runs back in the bottom half of the frame.
Indians starter Corey Kluber surrendered a lead-off home run to second baseman Yolmer Sanchez, and two batters later, gave up a solo round-tripper to first baseman Jose Abreu.
Although Kluber gave up the two home runs in the bottom of the first inning, the offense gave him three more runs of support over its next two trips to the plate.
Lindor led off the top of the second inning with a solo home run to right field, and then, in the top of the third, second baseman Erik Gonzalez smashed a two-run blast over the wall in left field. With his third home run of the season, Gonzalez brought around catcher Yan Gomes, who hit a one-out double earlier in the frame.
Lindor continues to add onto his single-season franchise record for home runs by a shortstop. He has belted 27 home runs in 138 games this season.
The Indians added another three runs in the top of the seventh inning when Gonzalez brought in center fielder Bradley Zimmer with a sacrifice fly to left field. Zimmer doubled and advanced to third base on a throwing error earlier in the inning.
Then, three batters later, left fielder Greg Allen smacked a two-run home run to left field that also drove in Lindor, who was on base after a single to center field.
In the top of the ninth inning, Gonzalez belted his second home run of the game.
Despite giving up the early home runs, Kluber settled into quite the rhythm and allowed only one hit the rest of the way. He registered 13 strikeouts over seven innings of work, and has had at least seven strikeouts in 18 of his last 19 games.
Although Kluber missed almost the entire month of May because of back issues, he has a 15-4 record and 2.56 earned run average with 235 strikeouts against just 34 walks over 175.2 innings on the season.
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