By Seth Rivello
The most recent and the fourth longest winning streak in Major League Baseball occurred a little over 15 years ago. In the year 2002, the Oakland Athletics, with general manager Billy Beane still playing “Moneyball”, went on to win 21 consecutive games. The streak started on Aug. 13 against the Toronto Blue Jays and ended Sept. 6 with a shutout loss to the Minnesota Twins.
No team in the MLB has come close to this record in 15 years, and it’s not the longest streak — it’s just the most recent. The longest streak is held by the New York Baseball Giants. The Giants 26-game win streak started and ended in September 1916.
All of this information is relevant and being talked about again because just a mile from the Factory of Sadness (FirstEnergy Stadium where the Cleveland Browns play), you’ll hit Progressive Field where the Cleveland Indians are currently on a 21-game winning streak.
Last October was tough to swallow for the Indians and their fans, especially after watching the Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and company climb back from a 3-1 series deficit and defeat the 73-9 Golden State Warriors to win their first NBA title.
Just a handful of months after that, the Indians were in the World Series ready to stop the 68-season drought. The Indians faced off against a hot Chicago Cubs team who in seven games flipped the script on Cleveland. The Indians led the series 3-1 but gave it away as the Cubs put the dagger in Cleveland with three straight wins.
The Indians started out slow and didn’t look like the team of last season. They were only a couple games over .500 and seemed to always be a game or two behind the number one spot. Something clicked in June, and the Indians have been riding it ever since.
The Indians have been scoring at will even though they are missing some key pieces. Outfielder Michael Brantley has been missing since the beginning of August with a right ankle injury. In late August, shortly before the winning streak began, second baseman Jason Kipnis went down with a right hamstring issue — something that has been bothering him since early summer. A huge key to the 2016 World Series appearance was relief pitcher Andrew Miller. Miller has been missing also since late in August, struggling with a right knee injury.
Most recently outfielder Bradley Zimmer got his hand stepped on during a play at first base. With a broken bone in his left hand, he won’t be seen for the rest of the season.
A huge reason the Indians are 87-56 and in first place in the American League Central is pitching. The Indians have three pitchers with 15 or more wins this season. All three pitchers are in the Top-10 in the MLB. Trevor Bauer, the guy who cut his finger with a drone wing before the World Series, is tied with the second most wins in the MLB this year with 16. Corey Kluber, the former Cy Young award winner, is right behind Bauer with 15 wins. Finally, Carlos Carrasco is tied with Kluber for 10th in the league with 15 wins. On July 7, Carrasco pitched an immaculate inning, which is when a pitcher in only a half-inning of play throws only nine pitches, each of which is a strike, thus striking out three consecutive batters.
The Indians have fought through injury, tough months and the sorrow of last October. The winning streak record is definitely reachable and would only help them run through this October.