CLEVELAND (AP) — Francisco Lindor broke two bats, borrowed one from a teammate, and hit a home run.
It’s been like that for the Cleveland Indians of late.
The Indians stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 18 games, beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Sunday night behind homers from Lindor and Roberto Perez in the sixth inning.
Cleveland’s streak is the longest in the majors since Oakland won 20 straight in 2002. The best run in baseball history belongs to the New York Giants, who had a 26-game streak in 1916, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Giants’ streak included a tie, which doesn’t count as a game in baseball.
Lindor’s home run followed Perez’s leadoff shot that snapped a 1-all tie. Cleveland’s All-Star shortstop broke two bats while running the count to 3-2 against Jeremy Hellickson, then walked to the dugout looking for help. Teammate Abraham Almonte obliged.
“I had no more bats,” Lindor said. “I ran out of bats. I prefer to use one that has my handle, so I just saw him and I was like, ‘Hey, let me use yours.'”
There was one problem, however, with the replacement. Lindor thought his chances to get a hit were slim because he uses a lighter and smaller model, but he hit the next pitch into seats in right field for his 29th homer.
Lindor turned to the dugout before leaving the batters’ box and smiled at his teammate.
“I looked at the barrel and I was like ‘No, there’s no chance.’ As soon as I hit it, I just looked at him like, ‘This is a good bat,'” he said.
This latest win came with a drawback: Indians rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer broke a bone in his left hand. Zimmer slid into first base trying to beat out a ground ball and got his hand stepped on. Manager Terry Francona said Zimmer will see a hand specialist this week.
The crowd of 21,259 roared in the ninth inning as Cody Allen recorded his 26th save. He struck out the first two hitters and retired Trey Mancini on a line drive to right field to end the game.
Cleveland hasn’t lost since Aug. 23 and has outscored its opponents 121-32 in the streak. Cleveland has trailed in only four of 162 innings during the stretch.
The Indians are a game ahead of Houston for the league’s best record and reduced their magic number to clinch the AL Central to seven. Cleveland trailed Houston by 14 games on July 22.
The New York Yankees won 19 in a row in 1947, which the Indians can match Monday against Detroit, but Francona doesn’t want his players to change their approach.
“Maybe this thing gets more carried away with other people as opposed to us,” he said. “We just play the game.”
Trevor Bauer (16-8) allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander moved into a tie with Boston’s Chris Sale for the league lead in wins and has won nine straight decisions.
Jose Ramirez, back in the lineup after missing three games with a sore wrist, had an RBI groundout in the first. Baltimore tied it in the sixth on Jonathan Schoop’s single.
Chris Davis hit a solo homer in the seventh for Baltimore, which has lost four straight and is three games out of the wild-card race. Hellickson (3-3) allowed three runs in six innings.
“At this point, we need to win every game,” Davis said. “There’s a lot stacked against us, we know that, but we’re still in the fight.”
Orioles: Manager Buck Showalter said OF Craig Gentry (broken right finger) could rejoin the team this week in Toronto.
Indians: Relief ace Andrew Miller (right knee tendinitis) will throw a simulated game Monday. He hasn’t pitched since Aug. 21 and is on the disabled list for the second time this season with the injury. Second baseman Jason Kipnis (strained right hamstring), on the DL since Aug. 23, will hit against Miller. … Left fielder Michael Brantley (sprained right ankle) has been doing treadmill work but doesn’t know when he’ll begin running on the field. He’s been on the DL since Aug. 9, but is hitting in the batting cages and throwing.
Orioles: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez will make his first start since Aug. 30 in the first of a three-game series Monday against Toronto.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, coming off his first complete game of the season against the White Sox, will start the opener of a three-game series with visiting Detroit.