The circumstances were unlike anything else I’ve witnessed while watching a baseball game in mid-September. The Cleveland Indians had previously won an American League-record twenty-one straight game. But, the Kansas City Royals were winning 2-1 in the 7th inning; realizing the magnitude of the moment, my friends and I immediately shut off the Thursday Night Football game and turned on baseball.
What transpired next was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my many years watching baseball. Down to the last strike of the game and potentially the win streak, Francisco Lindor roped a game-tying double that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Jay Bruce would double in the winning run in the next inning, and the streak was extended to an unprecedented 22 victories in a row.
Unfortunately, Cleveland’s win streak was finally halted by the Royals the next game, as ace Jason Vargas proved too much for the normally lethal Indians offense. So, here we are, left to reflect on what was, in my opinion, the single greatest run by a team in baseball history.
We can compare the Indians’ streak to the two other most impressive streaks in MLB history, the record-setting 1916 New York Giants’ streak of 26 games and the 2002 Oakland A’s streak of 20 games.
For the former, we must consider that many of the games within the course of the “streak” were ties, since that game result existed at that time. In addition, there were less members of a baseball team and less teams in the league. The Giants probably had more familiarity with their opponents and were able to reuse players more frequently unlike the 2017 Indians.
As for the 2002 A’s, whose influence was great in the grand scheme of baseball philosophy, the Indians were a much stronger team in general. They dominated opponents during their 22 consecutive victories, with their only walk-off occurring in the final chapter. The A’s had four walk-offs and generally began to regress in performance late in the streak. On the flipside, as the stats will illustrate, the Indians were intensely dominant during their 22-game tear.
22 games equates to just about 198 innings. During Cleveland’s streak, the team trailed for only eight of those 198 innings. Considering how often a baseball offense can explode in a flurry of runs in one inning, that is pretty darn good pitching and defense. While we’re on the subject of Cleveland’s pitching, it is also important to note that during the streak, the team threw seven shutouts, which is more than 18 out of 30 MLB teams have had this whole season.
As the team’s pitching staff pulled its weight, the Indians’ offense was nothing short of explosive during the 22-game win streak. They outscored opponents a laughable 142-37, with the average margin of victory being 4.77 runs. When a baseball team wins by five runs in one game, that can be certifiably labeled as a rout. Therefore, the Indians destroyed or nearly destroyed their opponent in every single game they played.
Watching the Indians win that 22nd game in a row was truly unique. It was the middle of September and I felt as if I was watching a Game 7 in the post-season. That is what is so important about the Indians win streak. Remember how they gave up a 3-1 World Series lead to the Chicago Cubs and came daringly close to winning Game 7 of that epic series? Well, as this astonishing streak has demonstrated, the Indians are more than capable of sealing the deal this season.
Contact Theo Asher at [email protected]