CLEVELAND — For really the first time in 20 games, the Indians might have missed on as many scoring chances as ones they converted.
But Corey Kluber was on the mound, so none of it mattered.
The Indians scratched across two runs while coming up short on a couple of bases-loaded rallies but had plenty of scoring for Kluber, who continued his run to a potential Cy Young Award with a complete-game shutout in a 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
The victory was the Indians' 20th in a row and, with it, they became just the second team since 1961 to win 20 consecutive games, joining the 2002 Oakland A's. The only longer streaks in the modern era (since 1901) belong to the 1935 Chicago Cubs (21) and the 1916 New York Giants (26), whose streak had a tie in the middle of it.
Kluber had one of his best outings of the season, allowing five hits and striking out eight in going the distance. During the streak, and because of what he's done since being activated off the disabled list on June 1, Kluber has emerged as the likely favorite for the AL Cy Young in a close race with Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale.
Kluber also extended the streak of terrific starting pitching for the Indians. During the win streak Indians starters have posted a 1.68 ERA with 129 strikeouts, and the staff has seven shutouts.
For much of the streak, it has been both the rotation and the lineup powering the way. The offense entered the game averaging 6.9 runs per game, but on Tuesday it was more slow going.
It did arrive quickly, though. Francisco Lindor, leading off the bottom of the first inning, belted a towering solo home run to left field off Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd. It was Lindor's 30th home run of the season, and he became the second-youngest shortstop to hit 30 home runs, behind only Alex Rodriguez.
During the streak, Lindor leads the Indians in hits (28), home runs (nine), RBIs (19) and runs scored (18).
The Indians then loaded the bases in both the second and third innings but came up short — an unexpected occurrence considering their recent powerhouse performances. That kept it a one-run game until the sixth when Carlos Santana, facing Tigers reliever Blaine Hardy, doubled to left-center field and advanced to third on a ground out.
The Indians turned to pinch-hitter Francisco Mejia, who was intentionally walked to put runners on the corners with two out. Greg Allen then pinch-ran for Mejia, who essentially just jogged in a circle from the dugout and back again. A few pitches later, Hardy uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Santana to score with a head-first slide.
Kluber cruised with that 2-0 lead until were two outs in the ninth. Alex Presley doubled to bring up Miguel Cabrera with Kluber at 110 pitches.
But Kluber finished the job, inducing Cabrera to ground out to third base to secure win No. 20 in a row.
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