CLEVELAND -- The home run ball had been very, very good to the Cleveland Indians during their franchise-record winning streak, and that proved to be the case once more against the Baltimore Orioles in a nationally televised game at Progressive Field Sunday night.
Back-to-back solo home runs from catcher Roberto Perez and shortstop Francisco Lindor off of starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson in the bottom of the sixth inning proved to be the difference for the Indians in their 3-2 victory over the Orioles, a win that completed the three-game sweep and extended the winning streak to 18 straight games.
Even in the count, 1-1, Perez fouled off two straight pitches, eventually worked the count full, and then, belted the pay-off pitch over the 19-foot wall in left field. Then, also with a full count, Lindor added onto his franchise record for home runs by a shortstop in a single season when he smashed the Hellickson pitch into the seats in right field for his 29th round-tripper of the year.
By completing the sweep of the Orioles and the Minnesota Twins’ 11-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, the Indians reduced their “Magic Number” to clinch their second straight American League Central Division to seven.
Like they have so often during their winning streak, the Indians took a one-run lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Lindor led off the game with a double to left field, and on a bloop single to shallow center field from left fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, he advanced to third base. Chisenhall hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball, but Orioles shortstop Tim Beckham got turned around and could not corral the ball.
Then, second baseman Jose Ramirez grounded out to second base and drove in Lindor for the game’s first run. However, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion struck out swinging on a pitch well out of the strike zone and right fielder Jay Bruce grounded out to first base to end the inning.
The Orioles drew even with the Indians when infielder Jonathan Schoop smacked a one-out single to left field and drove in third baseman Manny Machado, who hit a one-out double to deep right field earlier in the frame. The Orioles failed to make it a bigger inning when center fielder Adam Jones grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Baltimore got another run back when first baseman Chris Davis smashed his 24th home run of the season into the seats in left field in the top of the seventh inning.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer scattered seven hits, allowed just one walk and two earned runs and struck out seven batters over 6.1 innings of work against the Orioles.
Bauer earned his fourth win during the winning streak and improved to 16-8 on the season. Bauer’s 16 wins are the most by an Indians starter in 2017. Bauer has earned the win in eight of his last 10 outings.
Bauer worked around back-to-back softly hit singles with one out in the top of the first inning when he got Jones to ground into a double play. Then, after setting down five straight Orioles hitters in the second and third innings, Bauer worked around a two-out ground-rule double from Beckham.
Bauer allowed a lead-off single in the top of the fourth inning, but then, set down the next six hitters, including four on swinging strikes before he surrendered the Davis home run and was chased from the game.
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