The Cleveland Indians ran their winning streak to four and whittled their magic number down to three with a win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
The final home series of the season for the Cleveland Indians got off to a raucous start on Friday night, as the Tribe pounded out 13 hits en route to a 10-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. It was Cleveland’s fourth win in a row and ran their record on the homestand to 6-1.
The Indians’ magic number to clinch the American League Central Division championship now stands at three with just nine games remaining in the regular season.
Cleveland fell behind 2-0 early in this one thanks to a Melky Cabrera two-run home run in the first inning off starter Trevor Bauer, but battled back to score two runs in the fourth, four in the fifth, and another four in the sixth to rout the Sox.
Jose Ramirez continued his breakout season, going 2-for-5 on the night with his 11th home run of the season, a double, three runs scored, and four runs driven in. Coco Crisp and Mike Napoli each added three hits and combined for five RBIs to further drive the scoring.
The night before a bullpen day, Bauer gave the Indians what they needed, going 7.2 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. The right-hander really only made the one mistake to Cabrera, though Avisail Garcia also muscled out a two-run homer of his own on a good pitch.
Game two between Cleveland and Chicago will take place on Saturday night at Progressive Field. It’s Fan Appreciation Night, with first pitch slated for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Carlos Santana has been on a tear of late, and he kept that up on Friday. The Indians’ leadoff man went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, raising his slash line for the season to .257/.364/.495. On the homestand, Santana is 14-for-27 (.519) with four doubles, three home runs, and nine RBIs.
Santana, who we wrote about on Friday here at Wahoo’s on First, is now slashing .333/.469/.653 (1.122 OPS) in the month of September, providing an offensive spark when the team needs it most. After years of being a lightning rod among fans, it would be smart for El Oso to finally start receiving some of the positive attention he’s deserved.
Napoli came into the game carrying an 0-for-21 slump and a 9-for-69 (.130) month of September. Five of those hits had been home runs, so his three singles against the Sox in this one were a welcome sight.
Of course, Napoli has the distinction of having struck out more than any player in a single season in Tribe history, so some tough stretches are bound to happen. He’s also the first to reach the 100 RBI plateau since 2007.
While he has stated in the past that he tries to hit the ball out of the ballpark every time he steps in the batter’s box, and his job description as cleanup hitter is to do just that, Napoli has been a pro long enough to understand that some slumps can’t be bludgeoned out of existence. His first hit of the night was a single punched to right field that he stayed back on, not trying to do too much. Everything fell into place from there.
Diggin’ Into The Numbers
With the victory against Chicago, Cleveland improved to 53-26 at home in 2016. The most home wins any Indians team has amassed in the Jacobs Field/Progressive Field era was the 54 that the 1995 club won on its way to the World Series. With two games remaining at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, this year’s Tribe has a chance to make history.
The win also ran the team’s overall record to 90-63. That is a half-game behind the Texas Rangers for the best record in the American League, but only a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox. Even with the division title so close, there is a lot to play for.
Cleveland is a virtual lock at this point to win the Central and earn a postseason berth, but with the most home wins in the American League, and second-most in all of baseball behind the Chicago Cubs, securing the best record in the league and home field advantage could bolster the Indians’ chances of making a deep playoff run. The opportunity is right there in front of them, and the final nine games will determine if they seize it.