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Winning streak over, but Cleveland Indians riding high at season's midway point

Exercise your democratic rights.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians finally lost a game, two in a row in fact, but still had a 5-2 week that built on their AL Central lead, which now stands at 5.5 games, with Detroit having replaced Kansas City as the closest pursuer. The Tribe also passed Baltimore to take possession of the second-best record in the American League. As was the case last week, there were far more than just four players with a legitimate case for one of these four spots. Alas, I'm a slave to my self-created conventions.

Previous winners:

The Candidates

Trevor Bauer

Bauer gave up two runs in six innings during his start on Monday against the Braves, which isn't bad, but isn't especially good either, especially since a weak offense. On Friday though, with the game stretching on and on, Bauer was called upon to work long relief, and turned in five shutout innings against Toronto, giving him a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings of work for the week. He walked six in those innings, but worked around them well.

Carlos Carrasco

Thursday in Toronto Carrasco struck out 14 while allowing only one run on three hits and two walks in 7.1 innings. Those 14 strikeouts are tied for the most by any American League pitcher in a game this season. Since a couple somewhat rough outings after his return from the DL, Carrasco has been fantastic over the course of the last three weeks.

Danny Salazar

Wednesday in Atlanta Salazar won his sixth straight start, and did so while striking out eight and walking none during seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to an American League best 2.22 as he continues to make his case for not only making his first All-Star team, but starting the game as a well.

Carlos Santana

Santana hit .400/.464/.720 in 28 plate appearances last week, with a wRC+ of 217. He had multiple hits in four of the five games he started. Scored five runs and drove in four. The highlight of the week for Santana came in the 19th inning of Friday's game, when Santana blasted a home run to finally break the tie and allow the Indians to break a franchise record by winning their 14th game in a row, and do so in their longest game since 1993. Santana homered again on Saturday, and has a team-leading 18 of them now.

The Winner

On Saturday, Rajai Davis became the first Indians player to hit for the cycle since Travis Hafner in 2003, and I couldn't even bring myself to nominate him as a candidate, that's how impressive a week it was for the Tribe. You can make a good case for any of the three pitchers. Salazar is the only one of them who didn't allow a run, but his work also came exclusively against the lowly Braves. Carrasco struck out those 14 guys, and against a good offense, but did give up a home run and walk a pair. Bauer made two appearances, and those five shutout innings of relief were vital. I'm going to avoid having to declare for any of them by siding with Santana, who had a huge week at the plate and provided the single best moment of the seven days as well. Congratulations, Carlos S.!