CLEVELAND – The Indians had already locked up the best record in the American League, captured the Central Division title and compiled the second-longest winning streak in baseball history.
With one last victory, now it’s back to the playoffs.
Josh Tomlin pitched into the sixth inning, and Jay Bruce drove in a pair of runs, leading Cleveland to a 3-1 win over the White Sox on Sunday to close out the regular season.
It was the Indians’ 102nd victory – second most in franchise history – and it gave them 33 wins over their final 37 games dating to Aug. 24, when they began an AL-record 22-game winning streak.
Cleveland begins its playoff quest in an AL Division Series against the winner of the wild-card game between the Yankees and Twins. It lost the 2016 World Series in seven games to the Cubs.
Tomlin (10-9) tossed 51/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out six and giving the club five pitchers with double-digit victories. Cody Allen worked a perfect ninth for his 30th save, as Cleveland set a majors’ season record with 1,614 strikeouts.
Bruce’s two-run single in the first gave him 100 RBIs for the second time in his career and helped the Indians take a 3-0 lead. Cleveland acquired the 30-year-old slugger in an Aug. 9 trade with the Mets.
Sox right-hander Chris Volstad (1-2) walked Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez to begin his day – all of them scored – before settling down. He allowed three hits over six frames in his second start in the majors since 2012.
Ramirez went 2 for 2, including his AL-high 56th double, and Carlos Santana added a sacrifice fly. Rob Brantly hit a leadoff homer in the fifth off Tomlin for the Sox’s lone run.
The Sox finished 67-95 in their first year under manager Rick Renteria. It was their worst record since 2013, but featured the development of shortstop Tim Anderson, second baseman Yoan Moncada, third baseman Yolmer Sanchez, designated hitter Matt Davidson, right-handed pitcher Carson Fulmer and righty Juan Minaya, among others.
“All in all, I think we showed improvement, and we showed some fight,” Renteria said. “People should be optimistic about the coming years.”