The Cleveland Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers 4-3 earlier today to win their American League record 21st game in a row. They passed the 2002 Oakland A’s record of 20 straight wins, and have achieved some pretty incredible accomplishments along the way.
It’s important to note, however, their win does not break the MLB record for most consecutive wins. That record belongs to the 1916 New York Giants, but not without an asterisk. The 1916 Giants went 27 games without a loss, however they did tie the 13th game of that streak, so many credit them with 26 straight wins. The 1935 Chicago Cubs and 1880 Chicago White Stockings also won 21 games in a row, so the Indians are currently tied for the second most consecutive wins ever.
Since the Indians’ streak began with a 13-6 win over Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland has a .305 batting average as a team and has 41 home runs over that time (1.95 home runs per game). Over their first 125 games (before the streak started) they batted just .256 as a team and averaged 1.22 home runs per game. Their pitchers are certainly to credit for a number of their wins over this win streak, but their offensive dominance and consistency can in no way be overlooked.
Since the start of the streak, Indian’s pitchers have a combined ERA of 1.57 (only 33 earned runs in 189 innings pitched). That’s right – Cleveland’s offense has hit more home runs in a span of 21 games than their opponents have earned runs. Both Trevor and Bauer have four wins and the entire pitching staff has six shutouts in 21 games as well (fourteen teams in the MLB have six or fewer shutouts all season). As for the bullpen, Cleveland hasn’t even had Andrew Miller throughout the entire streak due to injury. Closer also Cody Allen has not allowed a run since August 12th, meanwhile Miller’s replacement, Tyler Olsen, hasn’t allowed a run in 13 and 2/3 innings since his call up.
To put their dominance into perspective, they began the streak with a 69-56 (a .552 winning percentage) record as a team with just a 4.5 game lead over the second place Minnesota Twins. Their record as of today is 90-56 (a .616 winning percentage), with a 14.5 game lead over the Twins and the best record in the American League. They also have a +104 run differential over the 21 games, outscoring opponents 139 to 35. They’ve trailed only FIVE innings of the 189 they’ve played.
Who they’ve beaten throughout the streak
Boston Red Sox (82-62, 1st in AL East) – the first pitcher the Indians defeated to start the streak? Chris Sale. Believe it or not the Tribe put up 7 runs on Sale before he had to come out of the game after pitching only 3 innings. The final score was 13-6 and the last game of a four game series that they split with the Red Sox.
Kansas City Royals (72-72, 3rd in AL Central) – This may not be the back-to-back World Series appearances Kansas City line up, but the Royals are still a strong enough team to potentially sneak in a win or two against a team like the Indians, especially since they are 6-9 against the Indians this season. At the start of the streak, they were actually at 6 games a piece too.
New York Yankees (79-66, 2nd in AL East) – The Yankees are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now. They turned a slumping July and August into a power surge through late August and September. Since their series against the Indians, they are 8-4 and sit atop the AL Wild Card race.
Detroit Tigers (60-85, 4th in AL Central) – Despite their star-studded lineup, the Tigers haven’t made the playoffs since 2014. Believe it or not, however, they had the edge head to head against the Indians before the Tribe’s win streak began. The Tigers won 6 of the 11 between the two teams, but have since lost a four game series and a three game series to the Indians to be at 6-12 vs. Cleveland.
Chicago White Sox (58-87, 5th in AL Central) – The White Sox really don’t pose much of a threat to any team in the MLB right now. They are last in the American League and the Indians outscored them 30-10 in their most recent four game sweep of the White Sox.
Baltimore Orioles (71-74, 3rd in AL East) – Baltimore’s season has been very up and very down. Throughout the course of this season, they’ve been in every position in the AL East Standings at least twice. Regardless, the O’s have not posed a threat to Cleveland at any point this season, with a head to head record of 1-6 against the Indians.
— WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW (@Indians) September 13, 2017
So as the Tribe continues their quest for the record books, their next stop is in Kansas City. The only playoff calibre team in the American League who the Indians have a losing head to head record against is the Boston Red Sox (3-4 including getting one hit by Doug Fister). Beyond that, it appears the Indians have struggled the most against National League teams, specifically the NL West, posting losing records against the streaking Diamondbacks (0-3), Rockies (1-3), Dodgers (1-2), Giants (1-2), and Padres (1-2). They are 4-12 against the NL West, who have the chance to send three teams to the playoffs as of right now. Luckily for the Indians’ streak, they don’t have any interleague games scheduled for the rest of the regular season.
Regardless, it’s great to see Terry Francona doing well.