Watch Out For The Red-Hot Cleveland Indians
As we head into the final month of Major League Baseball’s regular season, the Cleveland Indians appear to be reminding everyone rather emphatically that they’re still the reigning American League champions.
With their 5-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday evening, the Indians have extended their franchise-record winning streak to 16 games, tying the second longest winning streak by an MLB over the past 50 years. They’re only the third team in the expansion era since 1961 to win 16 straight in a season, and they currently hold the longest winning streak in the majors since the Oakland Athletics won 20 straight in 2002.
And for those who are wondering: the Indians are only five wins away from matching the longest winning streak in major league history 21 wins in a row, by the 1935 Chicago Cubs.
The Indians haven’t lost a game in about two-and-a-half weeks, and have only trailed their opponents twice during this 16 game streak. Over said period of time, they’ve outscored their opponents by a whopping 114-28 margin.
It’s funny to think that less than two months ago, Cleveland was just three games over .500, and was nursing just a half-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. Fast forward to today, and their 11-game advantage in the division is the third largest in baseball. They’re just one win behind the Houston Astros for the most wins in the American League, and they’ve leapfrogged the Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the highest total run differential (+204) in all of baseball.
With a MLB-high 48 road wins to date, the Indians are on pace to win about 98 games this season. But given the way they’re playing, they could very well be looking at a win total of over 100 if they continue on the pace they set since the All-Star break.
But, of course, championships aren’t won in August or September. Of all the teams on that exclusive list of 15+ game win streaks, none of them advanced past the Championship Series of their respective conferences. Having advanced to and eventually losing the deciding Game 7 of the World Series, this Indians team knows that there’s still a long ways left in this season, especially if they truly want to back to where they were last year, and finish things off the right way this time.
All the pieces are in place for Cleveland to keep its proverbial foot on the gas pedal. Ace pitcher Corey Kluber looks like a Cy Young contender, leading the American League in ERA and ERA+. Right handed pitcher Mike Clevinger has made nine starts since July 8, allowing no runs in five of them; he looks to provide a big boost to the Tribe’s pitching rotation. Third baseman Jose Ramirez is right in the thick of the American League MVP race, ranking among the top five players in the AL in batting average, runs, slugging percentage, and on base percentage.
Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Andrew Miller, who were all key parts of the Indians’ run to the World Series last year, should all overcome their injuries and return to the lineup by the end of the month.
In other words: come October, it could be deja vu all over again, as far as the team representing the American League in the World Series.