CLEVELAND (AP) — Edwin Encarnacion and the Cleveland Indians won their 16th straight game, extending the best streak in franchise history by beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 Friday night.
Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the first inning into some trees in center field next to Heritage Park, the team’s hallowed area where past Cleveland stars and teams are immortalized.
These 2017 Indians are making a case for their inclusion.
Mike Clevinger (9-5) improved his chances to pitch in the postseason with six strong innings as AL Central leaders became just the third team in the expansion era — since 1961 — to win 16 straight in a season.
Cleveland’s string is the longest in the majors since Oakland won 20 straight in 2002. The longest winning streak in major league history is 21 by the 1935 Chicago Cubs.
The 1916 New York Giants had a string of 26 wins and one tie.
The Indians haven’t lost since Aug. 23. Perhaps more impressively, the defending AL champions have trailed only twice during the 16-game span and have outscored their opponents 114-28.
And these Indians might not be done streaking.
Back from going 11-0 on the road, Cleveland began a 10-game homestand with its fifth shutout during the 16-game roll.
The Orioles managed just four hits in the opener of a 10-day trip. Baltimore began the day two games back in the nine-team, wild-card scramble.
Encarnacion hit his 34th home run, connecting off Wade Miley (8-12) and that was plenty for Clevinger.
Clevinger (9-5) pitched three-hit ball over six innings, his third straight six-inning scoreless outing.
He’s gone 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his last three starts, and with Danny Salazar struggling, the 26-year-old Clevinger could factor heavily into Cleveland’s playoff pitching plans as the club tries to get back to the World Series.
As has been the case in every game during the streak, the Indians scored first, jumping to a 3-0 lead on Encarnacion shot.
Carlos Santana made it 4-0 in the sixth with a ground-rule RBI double.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy was activated from the 60-day disabled list after being out nearly three months with a broken right wrist. He was hit by a pitch on June 18. For now, Showalter is sticking with Tim Beckham, who entered the series batting .359 with seven homers and 20 RBIs since coming over in a deadline trade.
Indians: All-Star reliever Andrew Miller (knee tendinitis) threw 44 pitches off the mound as he nears a return. The left-hander, who has been out since Aug. 22, is expected to pitch in simulated games next week. Miller said the session went well and he’s eager to take the next step. … 2B Jason Kipnis (hamstring) is increasing his baseball activities and could also play in simulated games in the coming days. … OF Michael Brantley (ankle) has not been cleared to run unassisted. “He’s frustrated,” manager Terry Francona said.
RHP Gabriel Ynoa, recently recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, makes his first start this season for Baltimore against RHP Josh Tomlin, who held Detroit to one run over 5 2-3 innings in his previous start. Ynoa replaces struggling Chris Tillman, headed to the bullpen.
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