ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — This has been one amazing run for Francisco Lindor and the Cleveland Indians.
Lindor snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run homer and the remarkable Indians held off the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 on Wednesday night for their 26th victory in 27 games.
It was Lindor’s 31st home run of the season, most by a switch-hitting shortstop in major league history.
“When you have talent, the moment’s not too big for you,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I know we feel good when he comes up.”
Albert Pujols hit his 614th home run for Los Angeles, which remained 1½ games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card. The loss by the Angels clinched a playoff spot for AL East-leading Boston.
The Indians have beaten the Angels 10 consecutive times.
“Our goal hasn’t changed, our focus hasn’t changed, our mission hasn’t changed,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We need to come out here first pitch tomorrow and get the game on our terms.”
The score was 2-all in the seventh when Lindor connected off reliever Yusmeiro Petit (5-1). Edwin Encarnacion had an RBI single later in the inning and Jose Ramirez added one of his own in the eighth.
The Indians are 95-57, only one game back of the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Cleveland trailed the Dodgers by 20 games on Aug. 25.
“It shows baseball is a long season and anything can happen,” Lindor said.
Tyler Olson (1-0) won in relief of Josh Tomlin, who allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Bryan Shaw worked two hitless innings for his third save, striking out three for the AL Central champions.
“Maybe people overlook him, but not us,” Francona said. “He came in and did a great job tonight. That was not easy.
“That was a fun game to be a part of. That looked like two teams that really wanted to win.”
C.J. Cron’s solo homer and RBI single accounted for the first two Los Angeles runs. Brandon Phillips and Mike Trout each had a two-out RBI double in the seventh. Pujols, mired in a 3-for-31 slump, hit a solo homer in the eighth.
The Cleveland shortstop broke the home run record for a switch-hitting shortstop that he previously shared with Jimmy Rollins (2007) and Jose Valentin (2004).
“It’s an honor, a blessing, a privilege,” Lindor said. “I’m blessed to play this game. To be named along all those great shortstops that played the game as switch-hitters, it’s something special.”
The right-handed reliever has been a great find for the Angels this season and his struggles in the seventh were one of the few times this season he has flopped.
“He’s been automatic for us this year,” Scioscia said. “At times you’re going to miss your spots and they’re going to hit it. But he’ll be back out there tomorrow.”
After getting a second opinion on OF Michael Brantley’s sprained right ankle, the Indians are shutting him down for another seven to 10 days. He has not played since Aug. 8.
Being out another 10 days would make it difficult for Brantley to play in the postseason, particularly the first round.
“I don’t even feel it’s appropriate to say that right now,” Francona said. “This guy’s trying his best to do whatever he can. It’s best to do whatever we can and see how he does.”
Indians: Francona said OF Lonnie Chisenhall would have taken time off with his calf injury even if Cleveland had not already clinched its division. Chisenhall remained home when the team came to Anaheim. “He needed to have some time down. He needed to have three to five without doing stuff,” Francona said.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (shoulder) played catch Tuesday and came out of it well, Scioscia said, but Heaney’s next rehab effort has not been determined. … 3B Yunel Escobar again took fielding practice and hit in the indoor cage, but did not take batting practice on the field.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.52 ERA) gets a start after making two scoreless relief appearances. His last start was Sept. 5. It will be his sixth start against the Angels (1-1, 3.74) but first this season.
Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (8-2, 3.71), coming off the best start of his career, will face the Indians for the first time. He threw six scoreless innings against the Rangers last time out. The Angels are 16-2 in games in which he has appeared.
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