INDIANS CLINCH CENTRAL
CLEVELAND — For the second year in a row, the Cleveland Indians are AL Central champions.
They clinched their title on Saturday night when secondplace Minnesota lost to Toronto. Earlier, the Indians bounced back after having their league record winning streak ended at 22 games by beating the Kansas City Royals 8-4.
A division crown is the first step for the Indians, whose only goal is winning the World Series after coming so close last year. From the moment they lost to the Chicago Cubs in seven games, the Indians have been focused on getting back, and a division crown is a first step.
Cleveland hasn’t won a World Series since 1948, baseball’s longest drought. This is the first time the Indians have won consecutive division titles since 1999, when they finished a run of five straight first-place finishes. The Indians have won the Central nine times. This time, all their fans were long gone from their ballpark when it became official.
Francisco Lindor hit an RBI double in the sixth off Jason Hammel (8-12), which gave the shortstop an extra-base hit in a club-record 10 straight games. The major league record is 14 straight, shared by Chipper Jones (2006) and Paul Waner (1927).
BLUE JAYS 7, TWINS 2: Marco Estrada (9-8) pitched eight efficient innings and Josh Donaldson homered twice among his four hits for visiting Toronto. Minnesota’s loss clinched the AL Central for the Cleveland Indians and cut their lead for the final AL wild card ahead of the Angels to one game.
ANGELS 2, RANGERS 0: Justin Upton hit two home runs as the host Angels closed within one game of Minnesota, which lost to Toronto, for the second AL wild-card spot. The victory also prevented Houston from clinching the AL West, leaving the Astros’ magic number at one over the Angels.
RED SOX 3, RAYS 1: Rick Porcello took a shutout into the eighth inning and Mookie Betts hit his 22nd home run as visiting Boston reduced its magic number for clinching a playoff spot to six and kept its AL East lead over the Yankees at three games. It was the eighth win in 10 games for the Red Sox. Porcello (10-17) gave up one unearned run in 7.1 innings, allowing five hits and a walk to win for the sixth time in nine starts.
DODGERS 3, NATS 2: Cody Bellinger hit his 38th homer to match the NL single-season record for rookies, and the Dodgers moved closer to the NL West title. Chase Utley had two doubles and scored twice to help L.A. reduce its magic number to win the division to five. Rich Hill (10-8) and five relievers combined on a four-hitter. Los Angeles also moved seven games ahead of Washington in the race to secure home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Dodgers have won four straight since dropping 11 in a row.
The Nationals have lost four of five since clinching the NL East last Sunday.
ASTROS 8, MARINERS 6: Dallas Keuchel (13-4) threw six solid innings and Carlos Beltran had three hits and two RBI as host Houston lowered its magic number for clinching the AL West title to one. The Astros (90-58), who reached 90 wins for the first time since 2004, can secure the franchise’s seventh division title with one more win or a loss for the Angels.
CUBS 4, CARDINALS 1: Kyle Hendricks pitched six-hit ball into the eighth, Addison Russell homered and the Cubs earned their fifth straight victory. Russell was activated before the game after being sidelined by a foot injury. He pinch-hit in the eighth and connected for a solo shot against Tyler Lyons.
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount for what MLB called “inappropriate actions” during Chicago’s win over the Cardinals on Friday. Cubs pitcher John Lackey also was fined an undisclosed amount.
D-BACKS 2, GIANTS 0: Zack Greinke (17-6) pitched eight innings of two-hit ball and Paul Goldschmidt hit a tworun homer as visiting Arizona reduced its magic number for clinching a playoff berth to six.