Lindor, Indians win, then clinch AL Central title

Lindor, Indians win, then clinch AL Central title

CLEVELAND -- Thanks to more clutch hitting from Francisco Lindor, the Indians rolled to an 8-4 win over the Royals on Saturday at Progressive Field.

When the Blue Jays beat the Twins later on Saturday, Cleveland clinched its second straight American League Central title. Kansas City remains four games behind Minnesota for the second AL Wild Card spot.

Get official Indians AL Central champions gear

The Indians broke it open in the sixth inning against Royals starter Jason Hammel. Leading by a run, Yandy Diaz and Abraham Almonte opened the frame with singles, and after two successive outs, Lindor connected for a double off the left-field wall, his third hit of the game.

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"The pitch that is going to bother me is that pitch to Lindor," Hammel said. "I was trying to go up and in, and it drifted over. It was the same pitch he hit two nights ago. It's got to be frustrating for our hitters to continually play from behind."

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Austin Jackson drove him in one batter later on a Little League home run when he singled up the middle, advanced to second on Lorenzo Cain's throw home, and scored after catcher Drew Butera's wild throw to second went into center field past an out-of-position Cain to give them a five-run cushion.

Must C: Jackson races home

"[I] watched a lot of baseball, that happens from time to time," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When you're aggressive on the bases and you're intelligent, sometimes you can run a team into a mistake."

Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco was excellent through most of the game, although the Royals chased him in the seventh inning. Kansas City put together a two-out rally as Alcides Escobar and Butera doubled before Whit Merrifield ended Carrasco's outing with an RBI single. Carrasco finished with five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings of four-run ball.

Merrifield's RBI single

The Indians quickly moved on from Friday's loss that ended their American League-record 22-game winning streak, but the clubhouse was as positive as ever as the team inches closer to a division title.

"We had good energy," Francona said. "I was happy about that. I didn't think we wouldn't [win], but it's nice to see them go right back to trying to be as good of a team as we can be."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lindor sets franchise record: Lindor's double was significant not only because it helped break open the game, but it also set a single-season franchise record. With his 10th straight game with an extra base hit, Lindor surpassed Hal Trosky, who did it in nine straight games in 1934. More >

"He's got a ton of tools, which everybody sees," Francona said. "And he's a really hard worker, and he's a smart kid. That's kind of why a couple years ago, we were so excited about him getting here. He's one of the better players around. So many different ways he can impact a game."

Miller Time: Francona mentioned before the game that Andrew Miller may not be used as scheduled on Sunday for his second outing since coming off the 10-day disabled list with right knee patellar tendinitis. That's because Miller was available on Saturday, and he got the Indians out of a key jam. Entering as Carrasco came out of the game in the seventh, Miller coaxed an easy lineout from Cain to end the threat for the only batter he faced.

Miller retires Cain

"I felt crisp and sharp, and I wasn't worried about my knee," Miller said. "I was worried about trying to get Lorenzo Cain out, which is not the easiest thing, but that's where I need to be mentally. That's the fun part of the game, when you can go out there and compete, and not worry about pitching through some sort of injury or whatever. I think I did a good job, and as much as I would've loved to throw 20 pitches or go back out for the next inning, I think that I was put in this place for a good reason. Today is a good day."

QUOTABLE
"I'm watching the fight. I'm watching the Canelo fight, eating pizza." -- Lindor, on whether he'll watch tonight's Twins-Blue Jays game

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (8-8, 3.78 ERA) is expected to be activated on Sunday to start the series finale against the Indians at 12:10 p.m. CT at Progressive Field. Duffy, who has been on the disabled list with a low-grade pronator strain, last pitched on Aug. 22, a 3-2 win over the Rockies in which he went six innings and gave up two runs.

Indians: Ace Corey Kluber (16-4, 2.44) will start against the Royals on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET as the Indians wrap up their 10-game homestand. Kluber has eight quality starts in his last nine outings with the exception being his only other start against the Royals this season. He held them to one run over 5 1/3 innings before being lifted with a right ankle sprain.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.