Streaking Indians rally for AL-record 21st win
The Cleveland Indians powered their way into baseball history Wednesday afternoon, setting an American League record with their 21st consecutive victory, a 5-3 conquest of the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Home runs by Jay Bruce and Roberto Perez — giving Cleveland 41 homers in the streak — lifted the Indians past the 2002 Oakland Athletics for the AL record and tied the 1935 Chicago Cubs at 21 wins in a row.
A victory Thursday against the Kansas City Royals would leave only the 1916 New York Giants — who won 26 consecutive games — ahead of the Indians.
However, the Giants’ streak included one tie score. Major League Baseball and Elias Sports Bureau — MLB’s official statistician — both recognize the Giants’ streak as the longest in major league history.
“I have given that zero thought,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I promise you I have given that zero thought.”
Those semantics are for another day.
Wednesday, the Indians gifted a crowd of 29,346 a record victory, as their stunning run of indomitable baseball stretched toward autumn.
“It feels like October,” Bruce said in an on-field, postgame interview. “We all appreciate it. It’s been a fun ride, man.”
This time the Indians faced adversity, relative to the rest of their run.
The Tigers took a 1-0, first-inning lead on a Jeimar Candelario double, just the fourth time the Indians (90-56) have trailed since this streak began Aug. 24.
Bruce, acquired Aug. 9 from the New York Mets, continued his star turn with the Indians in the bottom of the inning, erasing the deficit with a three-run homer off Tigers starter Buck Farmer.
Indians starter Mike Clevinger was dominant at times, striking out six in 52⁄3 innings, but gave up some solid contact and, ultimately, three runs to the Tigers. But after Andrew Romine’s single brought Detroit within 4-3 in the sixth, Perez responded with a seventh-inning home run to stretch it to 5-3.
Giovanny Urshela made two sparkling defensive plays to work around an error by setup man Bryan Shaw in the eighth inning, and Cody Allen closed the game for his 27th save.
Clevinger’s win was the 19th by an Indians starting pitcher in the streak.
Their magic number to clinch the AL Central was reduced to four. Even Las Vegas is on board, installing them as co-favorites with the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series.
Yet even if the Indians can’t win one more postseason game than they did last year — when they fell to the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series — this team will go down in history.
The Indians made sure of that Wednesday.
Francisco Lindor, left, congratulates Jay Bruce after his three-run homer sparked the Indians to the record-setting win.