Believe it or not, there is baseball outside of Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. You may not have noticed, but the best baseball is being played in Cleveland these days.
The Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers last night 11-0, and in doing so pushed their winning streak to an incredible 19 games. They’re now one win away from tying the Moneyball Oakland A’s American League record of 20 straight wins back in 2002.
Tonight, Cleveland sends Cy Young contender Corey Kluber to the mound, almost guaranteeing them a victory. When Cleveland scores four or more runs with Kluber on the bump, they don’t lose. Since beginning this streak, the Tribe has scored less than four runs only three times. It’s looking quite optimistic for the Indians and their pursuit of 20 wins in a row.
Digging into the numbers, there are some incredible feats accomplished during this impressive run of baseball:
- The Tribe has allowed a paltry 32 runs. In comparison, they’ve hit 38 home runs during the same time period. They’ve hit more home runs than they’ve allowed runs!
- The Tribe’s pitching staff has thrown six shutouts during the streak. There are 14 MLB teams with six or less shutouts for the entire season!
- They’ve only trailed for four innings over their last 19 games and have scored first in 18 of those games.
- The Indians have posted a run differential of plus-100 during their streak. That’s only the fourth time in the modern era a team has done that over 19 games. By comparison, the previously unstoppable Dodgers had the second best differential this season with a plus-68.
This is the most rarefied of air you can find in baseball history. We may never see this level of dominance by a team again.
If the Indians successfully push their streak to 20 games tonight, the next milestone is one more win, as the 1935 Cubs won 21 straight. That matchup would see the recently red hot Mike Clevinger take the bump for the Tribe against Buck Farmer, whose been up and down between AAA and the Tigers this season.
After 21 straight, the Tribe would have only the 1916 New York Giants ahead of them. Those Giants won 26 games without losing, but it comes with a caveat. Amidst that run they had a tie, which is unheard of these days. Therefore, it can be argued that 21 is the official record winning streak, while 26 has an asterisk since it included a non-win.
The Indians have been winning ballgames despite facing some serious adversity. They’ve won 19 in a row without the services of All-Stars Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis. Despite missing three core components of their squad, they just keep on dominating everyone in their path.
The Tribe has all but clinched the AL Central, and thanks to the streak, have leapfrogged the Houston Astros for best record in the AL and are right on the heels of the swooning Dodgers for home field throughout the postseason.
After taking the World Series to extra innings in game 7 last year, the Tribe has lofty expectations this year. Obviously, the goal is nothing short of winning the World Series. Manager Terry Francona and the team won’t really talk about the successful streak. It’s more of something to look back on after the season with a sense of pride. But when the dust settles and the Tribe is able to appreciate fully what they’re doing, they’ll clearly look back on it quite fondly.