Indians win 18th in a row, over take Astros for beat AL record

The Indians are no longer just chasing history. With 18 consecutive wins in the books, Cleveland now has its sights on the best record in baseball.

On Sunday night, the Indians extended their franchise-record winning streak with a 3-2 win over the Orioles, courtesy of homers from Francisco Lindor and Roberto Perez and a solid start by Trevor Bauer. With the victory, Cleveland became only the fifth team on record to win at least 18 consecutive games.

“It’s cool that we’re winning a lot of games in a row,” Lindor said. “It’s given us a huge advantage, but we’re not focusing on that. We’re focused on what’s going to happen tomorrow. And then, once we’re done with tomorrow, we focus on the next day. Everybody’s thinking about what we have in front of us.

“Yeah, we can’t wait for the playoffs, if we make it. But, we’ve got to respect our opponents.”

The benefit of the long winning streak for the Indians (87-56) has been overtaking the Astros (86-57) for the best record in the American League. In the event of a tie, Cleveland owns a tiebreaker over Houston. The AL Central-leading Tribe is also now just five games back of the Dodgers (92-51) for baseball’s best ledger, which would earn home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Besides trying to run down the Dodgers, Cleveland is hunting an historic winning streak. The 1935 Cubs hold the record with 21 consecutive wins, followed by the 2002 A’s (20) and the 1947 Yankees (19). The Indians have tied the 1953 Yankees for the fourth-longest streak of wins in consecutive games. The Elias Sports Bureau credits the 1916 Giants with a 26-game winning streak, though that run includes a tie within a 27-game stretch.

“I bet you every team that you’re on, you think you’re going to win until you don’t,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s the whole idea. I think maybe this thing gets more carried away with other people, as opposed to us. We just play the game. You start thinking about last week, it doesn’t help anything. We try to learn and move on as quickly as we can.”

Cleveland’s streak has been powered by pitching — the rotation has turned in a 1.94 ERA in 111 1/3 innings in the 18 victories — and Bauer kept it going against Baltimore. Over 6 1/3 frames, the right-hander struck out seven, walked none and limited the Orioles to two runs (one via Chris Davis’ 24th homer of the season).

Perez and Lindor provided some fireworks with back-to-back homers off O’s starter Jeremy Hellickson in the sixth inning, giving the Indians the lead for good. Hellickson, who had retired 15 straight batters before those homers, was charged with three runs on four hits in six innings.

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