The Cleveland Indians did what some thought to be impossible, going on an incredible 22 game win streak. Unfortunately on Friday, the streak ended with a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
First of all, above all else, I want to start this off by saying thank you to the entire Cleveland Indians organization. This streak was so much fun, and this entire organization, from the top down deserves a heart felt thank you for making it happen. The owners opened their wallets to bring in Edwin Encarnacion, and absorbing the remaining balance of Jay Bruce’s salary (even the Yankees wouldn’t do that). The General Manager, and their staff who put this team together; the coaching staff, who dealt with injuries, setbacks and adversity, but always put their team in a position to win, night in and night out. And of course, the players. This team is the most fun to watch in all of baseball, in my opinion. They are a group of unselfish guys, willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. They have changed defensive positions, moved up and down the lineup, gone from the starting rotation to the bullpen, you name it, and they have done it. And not one time did we ever hear of any contention or selfishness from the clubhouse. It is a true testament to how much they mean to each other, and their dedication to the team.
The streak that the Indians were able to put together was the second longest in major league history. The 1916 New York Giants won an incredible 26 straight games that season. There is some controversy regarding their streak, as many people feel their streak included a tie, thus making it an unbeaten streak and not a winning streak. A few days ago, Elias Sports ended the controversy by releasing a statement saying that the longest streak does belong to the Giants. During their streak, a game was called, with a tie score when it became too dark to continue playing, but in fact, the game was cancelled and then started over. There was never a tie recorded, and the game that was cancelled due to darkness was just erased. It was like the game was never played, and the streak continued the next day with a totally new game. That being said, in this era of baseball, with the best players in the entire world now available to major league clubs, the Indians’ streak feels a little more satisfying, at least to me.
Some notable parts of the streak include the Indians starting the month of September 15-0, which tied them for the best start to a month since the ’91 Twins, and the only other team to do this was the ’77 Royals. The Tribe beat the American League streak record, previously 20 games, by the ’02 Oakland A’s; and of course, they beat their own franchise record streak, which was set last season, of 14 games. The Indians are also only the third team ever, to have consecutive seasons with streaks of 14 games in a row.
Some of the stats that catch your attention the most are that they outscored their opponents 142-37 during the streak. And they did it by tossing seven shutouts (that is more shutouts than 13 teams have recorded the entire season so far), and they reached double digit runs in six games. Also, the team played 199 innings during the 22 game win streak, and only trailed at the end of eight of them. The Indians pitching staff may be the most incredible part of this entire streak. The starters pitched 137.2 innings, and they only allowed 27 earned runs (1.77 ERA), and just two runs or less in 19 of the 22 wins. The Tribe bullpen was amazing as well, in their 61.1 innings, they allowed just eight earned runs (1.17 ERA). Those numbers are just unheard of. Players, especially pitchers, will have ups and downs, but they were clicking for a very long stretch. The Indians’ bats were as hot as ever, and received contributions from everyone in the lineup. As a team, they had an impressive .306 batting average during the streak, while putting up that incredibly lopsided +105 run differential. Amazing!
One of the best sights during the streak was actually when it ended. The sold out crowd at Progressive Field gave an astounding standing ovation to their beloved team after the last out was recorded. The Indians players and coaches emerged from the dugout and reciprocated their appreciation by applauding and tipping their caps to the faithful fans. Cleveland’s love affair with the Tribe appears to be rekindled, and I am thrilled to see it. The Tribe deserves the support of the city, and hopefully it will continue throughout the rest of the season, the postseason, and into next year.
The Indians still have some unfinished business to take care of though. Their magic number to clinch the Central Division is down to two, which will be achieved by the team winning two more games, the Twins losing two more games, or the Tribe winning one and the Twins losing one. This could hopefully be wrapped up this weekend! The Indians also currently have 1.5 game lead over the Astros, and will need to hold on to keep the home field advantage through the American League side of the playoffs. They trail the Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball by just 4.5 games, and if they can over take them, they will have home field advantage in the World Series if they make it that far. The streak itself may have come to an end, but the Indians still have a lot on the line the rest of the season.