If you’ve seen Moneyball, then you know that the American League record for consecutive wins was 20 games by the 2002 Oakland A’s. That is, of course, until Wednesday afternoon when the Cleveland Indians downed the Detroit Tigers 5-3 and notched their 21st straight win. So, what now?
When a team goes on a long winning streak like the Indians are currently riding and the LA Dodgers earlier this season, it feels like they’ll never lose. The Dodgers weren’t necessarily winning every game (though it felt like it), rather they lost about once every week and a half or so.
Meanwhile, Cleveland has bulldozed through opponents with sweeps of the Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers, twice. Up next, the Indians host the Royals for four games. After winning 21 straight, Cleveland could lose to anybody any day, even the 58-87 White Sox.
To figure out how long this streak can go, we want to look at how the Royals are trending. The Royals were a train wreck for a short period the end of August, but things have evened out, mostly. Winning has somewhat returned to Kansas City as the Royals are 7-6 in September, but they are also giving up a ton of runs. While allowing 6.5 runs per game, the Royals have allowed double-digit scoring three times. Meanwhile, the offense has averaged just 5.2 runs per game in the same period.
During their streak, the Indians have been dominating opponents with six double-digit scoring games and seven shutouts. These games haven’t even been close, as only three have been one-run games and none of them came down to a walk off.
The questions we have now: Can the Indians keep winning? How long can they keep the streak alive? Is the 1916 New York Mets’ 26-game streak within reach? In short, yes, a bit longer, no. With the Royals coming to town, the Indians definitely have a beatable opponent. There’s no reason Cleveland can’t take at least three games from the Royals. The order the Indians take those three out the four, is the question. The backend of the series would be unfortunate, but I don’t know that having 9-9 Josh Tomlin start the first game of the series is the best scenario to continue the streak.
The answer to how long the streak stays alive and chasing the Mets’ 26-game streak are one in the same. Even if the Indians sweep the Royals and reach 25 games, they travel to take on the Anaheim Angels next. Even with the best scenario to this point, I see the Angels putting an end to the streak in the first game of that series.
Either way, it’s impressive that the Indians have been able to play such consistent baseball for as long as they have. It’s been 21 days and counting since they last lost a game. But don’t crown them AL champs quite yet, because as fun as winning is, it’s exhausting. Anything can happen between now and October.
Photo by Brad Curnow