CLEVELAND (AP)Cal Quantrill’s record at home has gone from oddity to rarity.
Quantrill finished the regular season unbeaten at Progressive Field, improving to 14-0 in his career at the ballpark after Owen Miller hit a two-run homer to send the Cleveland Guardians to a 5-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
Quantrill (15-5) was in danger of his unblemished record at home ending before Miller’s shot off Daniel Lynch (4-13) capped Cleveland’s five-run fifth. Quantrill’s 14-game winning streak is the longest in the ballpark’s history.
”I try to keep the boys in the game,” he said of his charmed ways in Cleveland. ”I trust that if I come out of a game with the lead that they’ll keep it, and if I don’t, that they’ll score. I don’t have a magic formula. I just compete.”
Quantrill’s streak also matches the longest for a pitcher in any ballpark since 1901. Vic Raschi went 14-0 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park from 1947-55. Also, Quantrill has gone 36 starts without a home loss, two shy of Kenny Rogers’ record.
Now 23-6 since Sept. 5, the Guardians keep finding ways to win.
”It’s how this team has played all year long,” said Quantrill. ”I know that if I give this team a chance to win, it’s more than likely that they’re going to get it done. It’s not always on schedule. It’s not always first inning, six runs.
”But I know if I come out of the game and it’s close I have confidence in our hitters. There’s no way that a staff is excited to face us three or four times through the order. Showed again today.”
Jose Ramirez hit a two-run double and Andres Gimenez had an RBI single in the fifth.
Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase gave up a run in the ninth before getting his MLB-leading 42nd save.
About an hour after the game, Cleveland learned it will face Tampa Bay in the wild-card round beginning Friday. The Guardians went 4-2 against the Rays during the season, winning two of three last week. All three games in the series were decided by one run, with two going to extra innings.
Quantrill, who is slated to start Game 3 – if there is one – in the first series or Game 1 if the Guardians advance, said he and his teammates are primed for the playoffs.
”We show up. We have energy. We play for a manager that we believe in,” Quantrill said. ”We play for a team and a city that we believe in.”
The Guardians couldn’t get anything going through four innings against Lynch before getting to the left-hander in the fifth.
Myles Straw led off with a perfectly placed bunt, and one out later, Amed Rosario got his third single. Following a double steal, Ramirez doubled high off the wall in left.
Gimenez’s RBI single made it 3-1 before Miller chased Lynch by connecting for his first homer since Aug. 1.
Despite the loss, Royals manager Mike Matheny was pleased with Lynch, who went 0-6 with five no-decisions in his last 11 starts.
”I was surprised how strong he looked Game 161, all things considered with how he looked kind of limping into August,” Matheny said. ”He finished strong. Good fastball, thought the slider was good, one of the best changeups he’s had.”
Gimenez, the Guardians’ All-Star second baseman, was hit by a pitch for the 24th time this season. He leads the AL in a category he’d rather not.
Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. has moved into elite company.
He’s only the second rookie in 35 years to get at least 20 homers and 30 steals. Mike Trout had 30 homers and 49 steals in 2012.
”I’m glad we’re seeing some of those comps because what we see on a daily basis in those big categories, it’s different,” said Matheny. ”It’s special. What he’s been able to do all season I believe deserves that kind of attention.”
Gimenez will play for Venezuela in next year’s World Baseball Classic, which will be held during spring training. Kansas City’s Salvador Perez is a teammate.
Cleveland has given Gimenez its blessing, but that doesn’t mean the club doesn’t have concerns about him playing. After all, players have sustained injuries that have derailed seasons and careers.
”With the position players you grin and bear it,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. ”Nobody likes not having your guys around in spring training. But if I was Gimi, I would want to represent my country. I get it. It’s a big honor. But you worry.”
Royals: Perez (left thumb soreness) was not in Kansas City’s starting lineup for the third day in a row. The 32-year-old underwent surgery on his thumb earlier this season and the Royals don’t want him to re-injure it.
Royals: RHP Jonathan Heasley (4-9, 5.00 ERA) starts the season finale for Kansas City. He’s just 1-3 on the road this season.
Guardians: Aaron Civale (4-6, 5.04) is 2-0 since returning from his third stint on the injured list. He’ll be Cleveland’s starter in Game 1 of the AL Division Series if the wild-card round goes three games.
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