Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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David Briggs

Indians in most dominant run in baseball history

The Tribe isn’t just winning a lot, they’re winning handily

  • APTOPIX-Tigers-Indians-Baseball-4

    Cleveland's Francisco Lindor, left, and Austin Jackson celebrate a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, the Indians' 20th straight win.


  • Tigers-Indians-Baseball-5-5

    Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana scores on a wild pitch by Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Drew VerHagen during the sixth inning of Tuesday's game in Cleveland.


CLEVELAND — As far as first-world dilemmas go, there are worse ones.

But Joel Hammond — a 2004 Bowling Green State University graduate and the man behind the Indians’ popular and lively official Twitter account — is in a bind just the same.

Cleveland is too good.

RELATED: Are the Indians one of the all-time greats? | Indians making the unbelievable come true

The Indians, you see, revise their Twitter handle every time the team wins more than a few consecutive games, adding a “W” in front of their name — #Windians — for each successive victory.

It was all fun and games until a couple snags arose Tuesday at Progressive Field.

1. Cleveland won its AL-record 20th straight game.

2. A Twitter name is limited to 20 characters.

“It’s a great problem!” said Hammond, the Indians’ assistant director of communications. “If we’re so lucky to win tomorrow, we have a plan for that.”


What is there to say anymore?

A rollicking crowd of 24,654 watched Francisco Lindor swat a lead-off blast into the bleachers, Cy Young Award frontrunner Corey Kluber toss a shutout, and the Indians continued to make an impossible game — where success is a batter failing seven out of 10 times — look elementary, moving to the brink of history with a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Mud Hens (sorry, Tigers).

Ever since baseball was first played in late-18th century New England, no team has played the stick-and-ball game better than Cleveland’s local nine the past three weeks.

The Indians are not just on a tear for the ages, matching the 2002 Athletics — the team famously immortalized on the big screen — for the majors’ longest streak in 82 years.

They are authoring the best, most dominant stretch ever, the team from the city known as Believeland truly pulling off the unbelievable.

It is one thing to simply win 20 games in a row. OK, it’s a big thing. In a whimsical game where momentum begins and ends with the next day’s starting pitcher, math tells us the odds of a team with a .552 winning percentage — which is where the Indians stood at the dawn of the streak — winning 20 straight games is 1 in more than a half million.

Or the same odds as you or me getting struck by lightning this year.

So, yes, the streak alone is remarkable enough, the Indians cuddling up alongside the A’s, the 1935 Chicago Cubs (21), and the 1916 New York Giants (26) as the only teams in the modern era to run off 20 consecutive victories.

But what separates this Indian summer from any other is Cleveland’s inexorable dominance.

There have been none of the ingredients thought necessary for a once-in-forever streak. No comeback drama, last at-bat magic, or obvious good fortune.

No, just punch-you-in-the-face supremacy. The last time the Indians lost a game — Aug. 23 against Boston — the eclipse had just passed through town. It’s been sunny in Cleveland ever since.

“It’s something special that’s going to be there forever,” Lindor said.

Consider the numbers from the blissfully — dare I say — boring streak:

■ The Indians have trailed for four of 180 innings and outscored the opposition by a combined score of 134-32 — a plus-100 run differential last surpassed in a 20-game span by the 1939 Yankees.

■ It’s as if they are fielding a lineup filled entirely with Hall of Famers, hitting more home runs (39) than they have allowed runs (32).

■ Everyone is contributing.

The hirsute 26-year-old right-hander who spent the year going back and forth between Columbus and Cleveland? Mike Clevinger hasn’t allowed a run in 18 innings.

The left-handed specialist with a 5.63 career ERA? Tyler Olson hasn’t allowed a run in 13⅓ innings.

The backup catcher who had two homers when the streak began? Roberto Perez has since batted .382 with three home runs.

■ Except for everyone who is missing. Perhaps most impressive is the Indians are doing this with three of their top players on the DL: super reliever Andrew Miller, all-star outfielder Michael Brantley, and second baseman Jason Kipnis.

What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine. It says here these Indians are the most complete team in baseball — deep lineup, top-end starting, electric relieving — the new World Series favorites. But for now, Cleveland manager Terry Francona knows there is only one guarantee.

“We’re going to lose a game,” he said.

We’re not so sure. But until then, the Indians can take a bow. The last three weeks, they’ve been the best team in baseball history.

Contact David Briggs at dbriggs@theblade.com419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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