Carrasco helps Indians notch 100 wins, top Twins

Carlos Carrasco by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The number is big, round and historic.

The Cleveland Indians aren't satisfied with 100 wins. They aren't stopping there either.

Carlos Carrasco struck out 14, Jason Kipnis and Roberto Perez hit two-run homers, and Cleveland joined an elite group with its 100th victory following a 5-2 win over the understandably sluggish Twins, who celebrated their wild-card berth earlier Thursday.

By improving to 31-3 since Aug. 24, the 2017 Indians joined the 1954 (111) and 1995 (100) teams to reach the century mark.

"That's cool," said Kipnis. "First, it's a lot better than losing 100. I've been on that team before, and I think it was, what, '11 or '12, where we went 5-25 in August. I've been on the teams where, no matter what you do, you're going to lose. This is one of those teams where, no matter what you do, it feels like you're going to win."

The 1954 and 1995 teams both lost in the World Series, and after getting to Game 7 last year before losing to the Chicago Cubs, these Indians don't care about any pre-October milestones -- no matter how impressive.

"That's not our goal," said All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. "It's something amazing, special. It will be there for a long time. We're just enjoying it and focusing on our daily job, which is to win."

The Indians are the seventh team to reach 100 wins in the past decade. They and the Los Angeles Dodgers (102-57) represent the first time since 2004 that two teams have won at least 100 games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Carrasco (18-6) dominated a Minnesota lineup loaded with reserves and September call-ups playing because the Twins rested several regulars hours after clinching a wild-card spot.

Carrasco allowed six hits -- all singles -- in 8 1/3 innings and improved to 3-0 with a 0.92 ERA against the Twins this season. The right-hander also moved into a tie for the league lead in wins with teammate Corey Kluber and Kansas City's Jason Vargas.

A year ago, Carrasco was nursing a broken hand and watched the postseason as the Indians won their first pennant since 1997. This year, he will slot in behind Kluber, giving Cleveland a lethal 1-2 starting punch.

"He's a bona fide ace in our mind," Kipnis said. "The guy goes out there, and when he's on, he's pretty lights out and he's pretty hard to hit. He's a perfect complement to Corey, back-to-back guys that just have a plan, that know what they want to do and get it done. It takes usually more than one swing to score runs off them, and that's what you want out of pitchers."

Kipnis, who has moved from second base to center field, connected for a two-run homer -- his first since Aug. 18 -- in the sixth inning off Trevor Hildenberger (3-3) as the Indians stayed ahead of the Houston Astros for the American League's best record and home-field advantage until the Series. Cleveland also holds the tiebreaker over Houston.

Minnesota's Ervin Santana tuned up for his start in Tuesday's wild-card game with five shutout innings. Manager Paul Molitor lifted the right-hander after 57 pitches, preserving him for either the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.

"I'm very excited, but I have four more days until I pitch again," Santana said. "I wanted to keep pitching, but it was Molly's decision and I respect that."

The Twins clinched their first postseason berth since 2010 at around 12:15 a.m., grabbing the second wild-card spot when the Los Angeles Angels lost in Chicago. There was a raucous, champagne-spraying celebration as the Twins toasted becoming the first team to make the playoffs after losing 100 games the previous season.

The party moved outside Progressive Field, so it wasn't surprising that a few Minnesota players, some wearing sunglasses and dragging along, wandered in as late as 11:20 a.m. for the 12:10 p.m. start.

Molitor gave regulars Brian Dozier, Byron Buxton, Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario the day off.

"We've really been grinding for more than a month now, so I had to do what was best for my guys," Molitor said. "I know the Indians' record and what they're going for, but I wanted to give some guys a day to relax."

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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