First there was Moneyball in 2011.
Now, you gotta believe there’s a sequel in the works.
The Cleveland Indians won their 21st straight game Wednesday afternoon, completing a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field with a 5-3 victory. The win set a new American League record, exceeding the Oakland Athletics’ 20-game run in 2002—which of course was the subject of Moneyball.
Take a listen to the memorable call from Indians play-by-play announcer Tom Hamilton as history unfolded:
— Glenn Moore (@GlennMooreCLE) September 13, 2017
With 21 wins and counting, the Indians are tied with the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second longest win streak in Major League Baseball’s modern era (since 1900). The 1916 New York Giants hold the record with 26.
Fellow Cleveland athlete and superstar LeBron James took to social media to praise his hometown Indians:
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) September 13, 2017
Tristan Thompson was also pretty excited:
21 21 21 @Indians !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
— Tristan Thompson (@RealTristan13) September 13, 2017
During their 21-game win streak, the Indians are outscoring opponents 139-35 and hitting .305 (226 for 741) as a team with 97 extra-base hits. They’re also pitching out of their minds. Of course you can pretty much assume that with 35 runs allowed in 21 games. Duh. Get this—starting pitchers are 19-0 with a 1.70 ERA (132 IP, 25 ER) during this historic run. Insane. Relievers have also been lights out, posting a 1.26 ERA. All without Andrew Miller too, arguably the best left-handed reliever in baseball. Imagine when he gets back.
Overall, the Indians have a 1.57 ERA during the streak. That’s the fourth best mark for a team in a 21 game span in the divisional era (since 1969). They also have seven shutouts during the streak. That’s more than 14 teams in the majors have all season.
Emerging AL Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco have led Cleveland’s rotation during this run. In 12 starts between them (four each), they’ve combined to go 11-0 with a 0.85 ERA (84 2/3 IP, 8 ER).
What about the offense?
Shortstop Francisco Lindor and third-baseman Jose Ramirez have been the Indians’ hottest hitters during their streak. Lindor’s batting .370 (30 for 81, .790 slugging %) with nine homers and 19 RBIs, while Ramirez’s batting .388 (26 for 67, .910 slugging %) with eight homers, nine doubles, and 14 RBIs.
Other notable offensive players during Cleveland’s streak are designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (.574 slugging %, five homers, 15 RBIs), first-baseman Carlos Santana (.357 batting average, five homers, 13 RBIs), and catcher Roberto Perez (14 for 37, four home runs, 11 RBIs).
This article provides some additional facts about the Indians’ torrid run, my favorite one being that they’ve hit more home runs (41) than allowed runs (35) in the 21 games. I’m not even sure if that’s possible to achieve in a video game.
Here’s a graphic per ESPN Stats & Info that compares Cleveland’s first 20 games of this streak to Oakland’s 20-game tear in 2002:
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
What an unbelievable story. The Indians have polarized Major League Baseball with their streak and are looking like the team to beat in the playoffs each time they win. They’re a young group clicking on all cylinders and playing with the highest level of confidence, and that should be a problem to whatever team(s) they face in the postseason.
Since the beginning of the streak, Cleveland has gained 9.5 games on the Houston Astros to overtake them as the team with the AL’s best record. Houston’s currently down 8-0 in the fifth inning to the Angels, so if that holds up, the Indians will have gained a full 10 games since August 24 and will have a 2.5 game edge in the AL’s best record race.
Coming off a World Series loss last year to the Chicago Cubs in seven games after leading the series 3-1, you gotta believe the Indians are a hungry team. Hungry as ever. Their last championship was 1948, and it looks like they’re on a mission to end that drought.
It also doesn’t help when you’ve got this guy running things:
Why’d you have to let him go, Red Sox…
The Indians (90-56) will look to extend their historic streak as they begin a four-game home series against the Kansas City Royals beginning Thursday night.
(Update: Cleveland lost to Kansas City on September 15, snapping their 22-game win streak.)