22 and through: Indians’ AL record win streak stopped at 22

Francisco LIndor
Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor sits near second base after being forced out in a double play in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians can return to clinching their division and playoff preparations.

Their historic winning streak is, well, history.

Cleveland had its AL record run stopped at 22 straight games on Friday night as the Indians were beaten 4-3 by the Kansas City Royals, who became the first team to conquer the defending league champions since Aug. 23.

Jason Vargas (16-10) pitched into the sixth and Brandon Moss homered off Trevor Bauer (16-9) as the Royals ended baseball’s longest win streak in 101 years. The Indians set a new league mark and came within four of matching the overall record held by the 1916 New York Giants.

Following a magical, walk-off win in extra innings on Thursday night, the Indians couldn’t muster another late rally and fell for the first time in more than three weeks.

When Francisco Lindor struck out with a runner on first to end it, the sellout crowd gave the Indians a prolonged standing ovation. Manager Terry Francona brought Cleveland’s players out of the dugout to salute their fans, whose ovation grew louder and louder.

This was something they’ll likely never see again in their lifetimes and both the Indians and their fans wanted to savor every second of an accomplishment while looking forward to October, when the games become more meaningful.

The Indians not only broke the previous record held by the 2002 “Moneyball” Oakland Athletics, but they served notice that they’re the team to beat in the postseason as they attempt to get back to the World Series and perhaps end their 68-year title drought after the Chicago Cubs halted their 108-year drought at Cleveland’s expense in 2016.

With one last chance in the ninth, the Indians put the tying run on base before Royals reliever Mike Minor struck out the side for his first pro save, fanning Francisco Lindor on a pitch in the dirt for the final out.

It was Lindor on Thursday night who had prolonged the streak with a two-out, two-strike RBI double in the ninth inning before Jay Bruce doubled home the winning run in the 10th to give Cleveland win No. 22.

That touched off a wild celebration, which shook Progressive Field and gave Cleveland fans a chance to get ready for bigger games to come.