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Lindor blossoming into leader during streak

MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor did not want to talk about himself. When the pack of reporters asked about his latest heroics, the Indians' shortstop quickly tried to redirect the conversation. He began praising Tyler Naquin for his approach and the single that ignited a ninth-inning rally on Thursday night.

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CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor did not want to talk about himself. When the pack of reporters asked about his latest heroics, the Indians' shortstop quickly tried to redirect the conversation. He began praising Tyler Naquin for his approach and the single that ignited a ninth-inning rally on Thursday night.

• Gear up for October: Buy Tribe postseason gear

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Lindor has already become a star, but moments like that show how he is starting to blossom into a leader behind the scenes for this Indians team. While the shortstop tried to push the spotlight in another direction, there was simply no getting around the fact that Lindor -- as he has throughout Cleveland's historic 22-game winning streak -- came through in heroic fashion in the 3-2, 10-inning walk-off win over the Royals.

"He certainly doesn't seem to shrink from [the moment]," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

 Video: KC@CLE: Lindor on having fun during the streak

Lindor's game-tying double off the 19-foot wall in left field in the ninth had Progressive Field shaking. It came with two strikes and two outs with the longest winning streak in American League history on the line. Erik Gonzalez hustled around to score from first base on the hit, which nearly found its way into the glove of left fielder Alex Gordon.

Instead, the ball tipped off Gordon's glove and ricocheted back into left, rolling through the grass long enough to pull the game into a 2-2 tie, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Most of the victories throughout the Tribe's winning streak have been lopsided, so this nailbiter had Lindor's audience reacting as if it were witnessing a postseason game. The fans were witnessing history, and Lindor has often been in the middle of it all.

"Right man, right spot," Indians starter Josh Tomlin said. "When he came up, you just had this feeling that the type of year that he's having and the type of player that he is, he's going to put together a competitive at-bat and do everything he can to get that run in. And that's what he did."

Tweet from @Indians: .@taylorswift13 You up? pic.twitter.com/13HKU2BsG5

Facing Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera, Naquin sliced a one-out single into left field to get things started. Rookie Francisco Mejia then came up as a pinch-hitter and grounded into a fielder's choice, leading Francona to send Gonzalez in as a pinch-runner at first base. That set things up for Lindor, who rarely sends fly balls toward Progressive Field's towering wall in left field.

Tweet from @mtmeyers: A spray chart of Lindor's XBHs this year as LHH.First time all year he's had one like that -- off/over wall in LF corner -- all year. pic.twitter.com/vcutb1gQXd

When the ball left Lindor's bat, he was initially upset that he did not pull the pitch.

"For a second, when I hit it, I was like, 'Oh no, I went the other way. I hit it to the wrong guy,'" Lindor said. "Then, I saw it hit the wall and the emotions were pretty high. Just seeing the whole entire crowd was fun, and then seeing your teammates screaming on the top step of the dugout is pretty special."

Gordon thought it was a ball he should have caught.

"It hit off the top of my glove," Gordon said. "We were playing no-doubles [deep], and it just kind of hit in that perfect spot where I had to make a decision to go for it or play it off the wall. But it was pretty close. Unfortunately, I didn't get it."

Tweet from @Indians: Calm. Cool. Clutch.That's @Lindor12BC for ya. pic.twitter.com/CVOIjL5ifr

Or, fortunately, from the Indians' perspective.

Throughout the winning streak, Lindor has come through again and again. In his 21 games during this run, the switch-hitting shortstop has turned in a .360/.427/.767 slash line to go with nine home runs, four doubles, two triples, 19 runs and 20 RBIs.

"It's just a true testament to how good of a player he is," Tomlin said.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Lindor