CLEVELAND -- There have been a lot of encouraging signs for the Indians in 2018.The postseason is just around the corner, and the Tribe is in the hunt for a World Series championship. With the 2018 season rapidly coming to a close, here are some of the top highlights from
CLEVELAND -- There have been a lot of encouraging signs for the Indians in 2018.
The postseason is just around the corner, and the Tribe is in the hunt for a World Series championship. With the 2018 season rapidly coming to a close, here are some of the top highlights from the memorable campaign:
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1. Indians clinch AL Central: The Tribe clinched their third straight American League Central title Saturday with a 15-0 win over the Tigers, sparked by back-to-back home runs from Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley to lead off the first inning. Mike Clevinger held Detroit to one hit over six innings while striking out five. Three straight division crowns is the Tribe's longest streak since winning five in a row from 1995-99.
2. Tribe deals for Donaldson: The front office went all in by acquiring Josh Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, on Aug. 31 from the Blue Jays. The move caused a positional shakeup, moving Jose Ramirez to second base and Jason Kipnis into the outfield, but it fortified one of the best offenses in baseball.
3. Allen becomes Indians all-time saves leader:Cody Allen cemented his place in club history July 4, closing out a 3-2 road win against the Royals and notching career save No. 140, passing Bob Wickman for the franchise lead. Allen, who has 27 saves in '18, has since split save opportunities with relief ace Brad Hand, who was acquired from the Padres on July 19.
4. Ramirez and Lindor make MLB history: The most dynamic duo in Cleveland sports has strung together All-Star and MVP-caliber seasons in '18, but on Sept. 3, Ramirez and Lindor became the first teammates in Major League history to each hit 30 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season. The infielders are also the first switch-hitting teammates in MLB history with 30 home runs apiece.
5. Bauer's double-digit K's in 4 straight games: After reinventing his slider in the offseason, Trevor Bauer put together his best season yet, earning his first All-Star bid and cementing the nomination with 10-plus strikeouts in six of eight starts from May 16-June 23. In that span, the right-hander strung together four games with 13, 11, 12 and 12 strikeouts, one double-digit outing from a franchise record. Bauer was in the AL Cy Young Award conversation with a 2.22 ERA and 214 strikeouts in just 166 innings before taking a line drive to his right leg on Aug. 11, causing a stress fracture that has sidelined him since.
6. Kluber's walk-less streak: Tribe ace Corey Kluber made a historically dominant run that spanned more than a month, pitching 46 1/3 innings without walking a batter, from May 8-June 15. With a 2.91 ERA, 194 strikeouts and 5.4 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference, Kluber has boasted a campaign worthy of consideration for his third consecutive Cy Young Award.
7. Ramirez works 17-pitch at-bat: Ramirez sparked an improbable five-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extra innings and an eventual win against the AL West-leading Astros on May 27. Ramirez won an epic 17-pitch at-bat against then-closer Ken Giles and ripped a leadoff double, becoming one of 12 men to bat in the pivotal inning and paving the way for rookie Greg Allen's his first career walk-off homer in the 14th.
8. Lindor's messy walk-off: Lindor broke a ninth-inning 2-2 stalemate against the Twins on Aug. 8, walking it off with a two-out, three-run homer to the right-field corner. Lindor was mobbed by teammates at home plate and was doused with baby powder by teammate Carlos Carrasco, creating a cloud that floated around the infield at Progressive Field.
9. Allen's spectacular catches at Fenway: Allen made his name known across the Majors on Aug. 21 with a pair of defensive gems against the Red Sox, helping the Tribe secure a 6-3 win at Fenway. Allen crashed into the center-field wall and hung on after a leaping grab to rob Boston's Xander Bogaerts in the fifth. Allen followed that up with a Willie Mays-esque snag in the seventh to rob Mitch Moreland of extra bases and likely saving multiple runs with a sliding grab near the 420-foot wall marker in left-center with his back turned to the infield.
10. Lindor's homecoming: In front of family and a sold-out crowd at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Lindor delivered a signature two-run homer that opened scoring in the fifth inning off Twins starter Jake Odorizzi. Lindor unloaded on a 3-2 offering into the seats in right field, which paved the way for a 6-1 win over the Twins on April 17 in the first of two games of a series in Lindor's homeland. The blast sent the crowd into a frenzy, and was perhaps the shortstop's most memorable homer of the campaign.
Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. You can follow him on Twitter @Casey_Harrison1.