In­di­ans hold the record? Not so fast

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - PAGE 2 - John Shea is The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle’s na­tional base­ball writer. Email: jshea@sfchron­i­ Twit­ter: @JohnSheaHey

I blame Pol Per­ritt for giv­ing up Honus Wag­ner’s sac­ri­fice fly. I blame Art Fletcher for not reach­ing base be­fore Benny Kauff’s in­side-the-park home run.

Events from 101 years ago Mon­day led to a tie game that has be­come the fo­cus of a de­bate with the Cleve­land In­di­ans com­pil­ing a his­toric win streak.

The In­di­ans won 22 in a row, pass­ing the 1935 Chicago Cubs on the all-time list, be­fore fall­ing to Kansas City on Fri­day. The 1916 Giants won 26 in a row, but a tie came 12 wins into the streak and was fol­lowed by an­other 14 straight wins.

John McGraw’s Giants, two months af­ter they traded leg­endary pitcher Christy Mathew­son, tied the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates 1-1 on Sept. 18, 1916, the Giants’ Kauff and the Pi­rates’ Wag­ner driv­ing in the runs. So is that a 26-game win streak? Or sim­ply a 27-game un­beaten streak?

Giants fans can rest as­sured their team, even though it was in a dif­fer­ent city in a dif­fer­ent era and with dif­fer­ent rules, holds the record.

Here’s why: In those days, a tie was re­played at a later date from scratch, not from the point the game was called (as is the case nowa­days). That par­tic­u­lar game, the sec­ond of a dou­ble­header, was called af­ter eight in­nings be­cause of dark­ness and rain — re­mem­ber, the first game un­der the lights wasn’t played un­til 19 years later. So the next day, the game was re­played as the opener of a dou­ble­header.

The Giants won 9-2. The tie had no bear­ing on the win­ning streak. In some ways, it’s as if it never hap­pened.

“There is no am­bi­gu­ity on this,” John Thorn, Ma­jor League Base­ball’s of­fi­cial his­to­rian, said in a phone in­ter­view. “The rules are clear.”

Then again, the rules were dif­fer­ent then. Be­cause we can’t ap­ply today’s rules to yes­ter­day’s events, at least in base­ball, the tie didn’t in­ter­fere with the Giants’ win streak.

Here’s the twist: Though the tie didn’t count for or against ei­ther team in the stand­ings, the play­ers’ and teams’ sta­tis­tics did count. No pitcher got a W or L or even T. But the stats were cal­cu­lated into their ERAs, and that in­side-the-park homer was one of Kauff ’s nine homers that year and 49 in his ca­reer.

(Kauff ’s ca­reer ended in 1920 be­cause he was charged with auto theft and got sus­pended by Com­mis­sioner Ke­ne­saw Moun­tain Lan­dis. Kauff went to court and was ac­quit­ted, but Lan­dis didn’t be­lieve Kauff was in­no­cent and re­fused to re­in­state him.)

“Present-cen­tric folks see a game that’s con­cluded today for cur­few or elec­tri­cal fail­ure and re­sumed later, and they say why didn’t they do that then?” Thorn asked. “They don’t re­al­ize there were no lights. There was a need for the vis­it­ing team or home team to catch a train (to reach the next city in time).

“The idea of hang­ing around was not al­ways pos­si­ble. Some games started at 3, some­times 4, in the heart of sum­mer. They could be com­pleted in less than three hours. Today, of course, that would be an up­set.”

In­deed, the av­er­age time of games dur­ing the Giants’ streak was a ridicu­lous 1 hour and 44 min­utes.

Tech­ni­cally, with player and team stats count­ing, ties were con­sid­ered of­fi­cial games — “with­out a re­sult­ing de­ci­sion,” Thorn said — even though they were re­played. That way, teams didn’t need to re­fund fans their money or pro­vide rain checks.

“That’s part of the joy in base­ball,” Thorn said, “that it hasn’t al­ways been the same. In minute and sig­nif­i­cant ways, base­ball has changed.”

By the way, two pop­u­lar sta­tis­ti­cal web­sites present ties dif­fer­ently. Ret­ in­cludes them in its stand­ings and base­ball-ref­er­ does not. All that mat­ters in this case is Elias Sports Bureau, base­ball’s of­fi­cial stat keeper, which says the 1916 Giants hold the record for long­est win streak.

The In­di­ans are No. 2. They own the Amer­i­can League record (pre­vi­ously be­long­ing to the 2002 A’s), not the ma­jor­league record.

Streak numbers: In the In­di­ans’ 22 straight wins, per­haps the most mind-bog­gling statis­tic is that they trailed just eight of 199 in­nings.

Also, they outscored their foes 142-37, out-slashed them .306/.385/.552 to .208/.251/.289, posted a 1.58 ERA, had a plus-105 run dif­fer­en­tial and did it all de­spite Andrew Miller ap­pear­ing in one game and Michael Brant­ley and Ja­son Kip­nis ap­pear­ing in no games.

The In­di­ans have come a long way since los­ing five of six in the Bay Area — three in Oakland, two in San Fran­cisco — af­ter the All-Star break. They had fallen to 48-45, and their lead in the AL Cen­tral was a half-game.

Man­ager Terry Fran­cona held a team meet­ing to fire up his play­ers, and the In­di­ans have gone on a 44-12 run in which they built a 14-game lead head­ing into Saturday night. Duffy’s fu­ture: The sad story of Matt Duffy could take a bet­ter turn. The Rays’ in­fielder won’t get into a game this sea­son be­cause of heel is­sues, but at least he got on the field re­cently to take grounders and bat­ting prac­tice and wasn’t re­stricted.

Duffy, who won a World Se­ries ring with the 2014 Giants and was dealt last sum­mer to Tampa Bay for Matt Moore , is tar­geted to get some off­sea­son reps, start­ing with in­struc­tional league, with the hope he won’t be re­stricted in spring train­ing. Ode to Cha Cha: Dur­ing Frank Robin­son’s visit to San Fran­cisco on Wed­nes­day, he re­called play­ing against a young Or­lando Cepeda.

“He killed us. We could do noth­ing with him,” said Robin­son, who played for the Reds when Cepeda emerged in 1958. “I said, ‘Wow this guy is some­thing. I hope he’s not go­ing to be around very long.’ But he was, and he was a tremen­dous hit­ter, a good clutch hit­ter with good power and good in­stincts at the plate, and a good de­fen­sive player. He was hard to han­dle.”

Happy birth­day, Or­lando. He turns 80 Sun­day.

San Fran­cisco Giants ar­chives

Player/man­ager John “Mug­gsy” McGraw’s 1916 Giants won 26 in a row, but a tie came 12 wins into the streak.

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