The Lede: Is There Any Stopping the Indians?

Corey Kluber warms up in the pen. Photo by Erik Drost (Flickr) CC License

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Indians Set AL Record with 21st Consecutive Win

We expected the Indians to be good this season, but we’d be lying if we told you we thought they were going to be historically good. Cleveland broke a 15-year-old American League record last evening by winning their 21st consecutive game with a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Unheralded righthander Mike Clevinger won his fourth straight start and Jay Bruce and Roberto Perez chipped in on offense with a pair of timely home runs.

Manager Terry Francona reflected on the streak afterwards in the Indians’ jubilant clubhouse. “I think they’re enjoying themselves,” he told reporters. “They should. I think what’s kind of cool about our game is when you do things, and you do them the right way, I think it means more. Our guys are playing the game to win the right way. That part’s very meaningful. They should enjoy what they’re doing. It’s pretty special.”

It could become even more special on Thursday evening. The Indians are currently tied for the second-longest win streak in Major League history, and can surpass the 1935 Cubs with a win against the sub-.500 Kansas City Royals.

The ultimate goal — for fans at least — is to reach the lofty heights set by the New York Giants, who won an MLB-record 26 straight in 1916.

Takeaway: If it feels like you’ve seen this before, it’s because you have. The Indians pulled off an improbable winning streak once before in 1989 when they came out of nowhere to edge out the Yankees and win the AL pennant. The only difference is that happened in a movie — Major League, to be exact — and it involved players like Willie Mays Hayes and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn rather than bona fide big leaguers like Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.

Lou Brown’s fictional Indians needed voodoo and trickery to win games, but the 2017 Indians have been doing it with a combination of run production and lights-out pitching. The team has a +104 run differential since August 24th and has clobbered 41 dingers since the streak began. The Indians have been especially opportunistic early on, scoring first in 20 of 21 games and outscoring opponents by 55 runs in the first three innings.

The Tribe’s staff, meanwhile, has been virtually unhittable. Cleveland’s starters have gone 19-0 with a 1.68 ERA over the course of the streak, and have tossed seven shutouts during that time.

Despite their dominance, there’s still money to be made on Cleveland. Bovada has the Indians listed at +175 to win the AL pennant and +325 to win the World Series. Those are solid odds, and well worth pouncing on before they change. The World Series is typically won by whichever team gets hottest during baseball’s coldest month, and no club has been hotter than the Indians.