When the Oakland A's set the American League record with a 20-game winning streak in 2002, they did so in dramatic fashion. Wins 18, 19 and 20 were all walk-off victories, with No. 20 the famous Scott Hatteberg pinch-hit home run after the A's had blown an 11-0 lead. A's executive Billy Beane recently said he knew the streak was over at that point; the team was gassed.
After the Tigers took the lead in the top of the first, the Indians immediately struck back when Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer with two outs, just clearing the fence in left-center. After the Tigers clawed back to 4-3, Roberto Perez iced the win with a home run in the seventh and Cody Allen closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth. Cleveland tied the 1935 Cubs at 21 straight, with only the 1916 New York Giants looming on the horizon at 26 straight wins.
It's a remarkable, dominant stretch of baseball. The Indians have trailed just four innings in the 21 games, have needed just three one-run victories, and have obliterated their opponents on both sides of the ball with a plus-104 differential -- that's an average winning margin of 4.95 runs per game.
Some highlights from the streak:
MVP during the streak: This is a tough one. Jose Ramirez has hit .388 and slugged .910 thanks to eight home runs and nine doubles and has 16 RBIs. Francisco Lindor has hit .370 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs. Neither has made an error, and Ramirez's ability to slide over from third base to second base with Jason Kipnis out has been vital.
Ramirez went 4-for-4 in a 2-1 win over the Yankees in Game 6 and had five extra-base hits in an 11-1 win over the Tigers in Game 11. Lindor had the go-ahead single in the ninth inning against the Tigers back in Game 8, had the leadoff home run in a 2-0 victory in Game 20, and had home runs in the sixth and seventh innings against the Orioles in Games 17 and 18 that turned one-run leads into two-run leads.
Ramirez had the higher win probability added heading into Wednesday's game, but it seems that Lindor has had a few more big more hits. So I'll say Lindor. Or maybe Ramirez.
Cy Young during the streak: Mike Clevinger hadn't allowed a run in his three previous starts before giving up three on Wednesday. Carlos Carrasco is 3-0 in four starts with a 0.62 ERA, two runs allowed and a 34-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Corey Kluber is 4-0 in four starts with a 1.41 ERA and a shutout in Game 20. Flip a coin, my friends, but I'll go with Kluber, since he's pitched three more innings than Carrasco and that shutout on Tuesday helped save the bullpen for Wednesday's record-setting win.
Unsung hero: The bullpen has been great, but it has been great all season, leading the AL in ERA. How about Ryan Merritt? Remember when he was pressed into service last October against the Blue Jays in the ALCS and delivered a clutch performance? He has made two starts during the streak and allowed just one run in 12 innings.
Biggest overachiever: Perez has played 12 games in the streak and is hitting .378/.439/.811 with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He had two home runs and 22 RBIs in 50 games before the winning streak started.
Best quote: "I went from being in one of the least fun situations in baseball to the most fun." -- Jay Bruce (via @jareddiamond), who was acquired from the Mets on Aug. 9.
Zimmer later suffered a broken hand and will likely miss the rest of the season and postseason.
Best tweet. This one:
1. Present to boss/teacher— WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW (@Indians) September 13, 2017
2. Run away
3. Get tickets
4. Possibly be part of history
Please, please, please arrive early -- gates @ 11AM. pic.twitter.com/wfmbBR4iEo
Or this one, trolling the A's for an earlier tweet: