The Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers this afternoon to take their 21st straight game, setting a new American League record for consecutive wins. The previous record, as we have noted, was held by the 2002 Oakland Athletics.
Cleveland fell behind 1-0 in the first inning but roared back to take a 3-1 lead thanks to a three-run homer by Jay Bruce in the bottom half of the inning. They added another run via an Edwin Encarnacion RBI single in the third. The Tigers brought it to within one run in the sixth thanks to RBIs from Nicholas Castellanos and Andrew Romine, but Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez‘s homer in the seventh put the Tribe up by two. Maybe it could’ve been more than a 5-3 margin, but Carlos Santana was thrown out by about 20 feet trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park homer to end the bottom of the eighth. Can’t blame the Indians for feeling frisky lately.
Two interesting things of note during this game. In the bottom of the third, both Tigers catcher James McCann and manager Brad Ausmus were ejected for arguing balls and strikes. During the argument, Ausmus could be overheard yelling “Don’t get caught up in them winning 20 games!” which yeah, is the sort of thing that’ll get you tossed. Right after that, the home plate umpire was hit when replacement catcher John Hicks couldn’t snag a trailing fastball. Dallas Braden, for his part, thought that it may have been an intentional miss by Hicks in order to get the ump smacked:
I won’t go that far — it was a pitch with a lot of movement and the catcher had just entered the game, not really expecting to play — but viva conspiracies.
Later the sprinklers at Progressive Field went off in the middle of the game:
As for the streak: in addition to the American League record, the 21st straight win ties the mark set by the 1935 Chicago Cubs which, until now, we’ve been referring to as the all-time record winning streak. The reasoning for that: most sources have noted that a longer unbeaten streak — 26 straight by the 1916 New York Giants — was interrupted by a tie, called due to darkness, in the middle of the run. Based on that, we’ve been content to call the Cubs’ mark the record.
As Chris Cwik of Yahoo wrote a couple of hours ago, though, there’s a strong argument that the tie shouldn’t matter and that the Giants should be credited with the longest winning streak. Read Chris’ article for the full explanation, but the short version is that the tie didn’t really count. They played a doubleheader the next day and the Giants won ’em both. Without taking anything away from the 1935 Cubs or the 2017 Indians, I think the Giants have a better claim to the all-time record.
Whatever you think about that, though — and depending on what Major League Baseball says about it if it actually weighs in on it — what the Indians are doing right now is undeniably great. Tomorrow they host Kansas City for a shot at 22.