The Cleveland Indians Might Never Lose Again
It appears that the Cleveland Indians have forgotten how to lose.
On Tuesday, aided by Francisco Lindor's 30th home run of the season and Corey Kluber's 2-0 complete game shutout of the Detroit Tigers, the defending American League champs tied the Moneyball 2002 Oakland Athletics for the longest winning streak in American League history, with 20 consecutive victories.
Here's how the 20-game winning streaks in the AL stack up. Indians have thrown 7 shutouts in this span (A's had 2 during their streak). pic.twitter.com/l8tSzvD34F
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 13, 2017
But it's more than just winning 20 games in a row -- it's how they've done it.
During the streak, they've outscored their opponents 134-32, an average of 5.1 runs a game. (For more context, they've hit 39 home runs and given up 32 total runs.) They've trailed for four innings during this 20-game winning streak, and the team has an impossible-to-comprehend 1.60 ERA over that stretch, including an 18-0 record and a 1.71 ERA from the starting rotation.
Cleveland is only the fourth team since 1900 to win 20 in a row, joining the '02 A's (20), the 1935 Cubs (21), and the 1916 Giants (26) -- although to be fair, there was a tie thrown into the Giants' streak of 26, so we'll call that an unbeaten streak.
The question now becomes, can the Indians set the all-time mark?
Passing the 2002 A's certainly seems doable. Cleveland will go for the American League record and a tie for the all-time longest winning streak with Mike Clevinger on the hill, who is 9-5 with a 3.30 ERA and has not allowed a run since August 21. On the other side, Detroit will look to Buck Farmer to destroy history. Farmer's been up-and-down from AAA and has a 6.32 ERA in limited Major League action this season. It's the final game of the Indians' three-game series with the rebuilding and suddenly depleted Tigers, so a loss would have to be considered an upset.
After that, the competition improves. The Kansas City Royals enter Cleveland on Thursday, and they're on a roll of their own -- they've gone 6-4 in their last 10 -- and are still very much in the wild card hunt, just 2.5 games out. The Indians will go with their weakest link in the rotation, Josh Tomlin, who is 9-9 with a 5.13 ERA this season. He'll face rookie Jake Junis, who has a 4.34 ERA in 12 starts. The Indians would then go for 22 in a row with the reborn Trevor Bauer on the bump on Friday, who comes into the game with a 16-8 record and a 4.33 ERA. He'll be opposed by Jason Vargas, who sports a 15-10 record with a 4.15 ERA.
Should the Indians get by those two games and push the win streak to 22, they'll have to beat the Royals two more times, then travel to Anaheim to take on the Angels in a three-game set.
Maybe the Tribe can keep this up into next week, maybe they can't, but nobody expected them to reel off 20 in a row, so don't bet against them.