This wasn’t just any loss. It wasn’t a minor detail in a lengthy progression toward mediocrity. It was a loss that marked the ending of a great streak of effort, teamwork, grit and talent.
Saturday’s game had many of the features that wins in the 14-game streak included. There was more clutch hitting from Jose Ramirez. There was a tremendous individual performance in Rajai Davis‘s cycle. Every move seemed to made with effort and passion. The only that was missing was prolonged pitching excellence.
So the Indians were 9-6 losers, but only in the box score.
The team gained national attention with the longest winning streak of the season by any major-league team.
It gained local media buzz unlike any they have seen since their 2013 drive to a Wild Card game.
Most of all, the Tribe rejuvenated their fans who were still giddy about how basketball season extended into Tribe Time and ended with a trophy — strange as that might seem.
The Indians ended Friday’s game in deep trouble, so much so that they needed help from deep within their farm system.
They had no starter; Trevor Bauer was called into the marathon for five scoreless innings Friday. So they began Saturday with a one-inning performance by flawed reliever Zach McAllister. Jeff Manship also followed with a one-inning outing. It wasn’t until the third inning that a bonafide starter game into the game — Akron RubberDuck Shawn Morimando.
The Ducks were in Erie, Pa., Friday night when he got the call for his big-league debut. The Indians radio team said he had to go to Akron to fetch his passport, a necessity now for those entering Canada. With so little notice and so much travel and, no doubt, anxiety, he pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing only two runs on six hits and walk.
It wasn’t until the eighth inning that the Blue Jays were able to apply the dagger with three runs. Even then, it became easy to speculate what might have happened if a video replay had not overturned a play at the plate that produced the Blue Jays go-ahead run.
So the record will show they lost 9-6, but everyone will remember it for ending the streak, not as a major defeat.
The 14-game winning streak, particularly the 19-inning victory Friday night, will be what we remember. Saturday’s game will be a trivia answer.