The Indians make an attempt at franchise history tonight as one more victory would break last year’s mark of 14 straight wins and mark new territory for the 117-year-old franchise.
By winning percentage (.597), this year’s squad is tied for the 12th best in franchise history but they’ve proven they can get hot with the best in all of baseball history. What is more unusual, perhaps, is that the Tribe has put together 14-game win streaks in consecutive seasons, a feat which hasn’t been accomplished in the Major Leagues since the 1935-36 Chicago Cubs.
As fun (and somewhat lucky) winning streaks can be, more importantly the Indians have since run away from the Central Division competition (Minnesota is 11 back with 22 to play), they lead Boston by five in the loss column for home field advantage in the first round, and they even trail Houston by just three games heading into the final three weeks. The Astros are off tonight before a weekend series against lowly Oakland while Boston also enjoys an off day before hosting the Rays this weekend.
Tito Francona sends the right man for the job tonight. Corey Kluber (14-4, 2.56 ERA) was the American League pitcher of the month for August and is in a dead heat with Chris Sale (15-7, 2.85) for the AL Cy Young Award. He faces the White Sox for the fourth time this season, and has gone 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA through 21 1/3 innings this year.
He faces a White Sox team brimming with young potential that has struggled to find its footing in a rebuilding season. The Sox are 16-35 (.314) in the second half this season and have lost seven of their last nine overall.
Chicago sends 24-year-old Carlos Rodon (2-5, 4.15) to the mound tonight. I happened to be at the Jake late last season when Rodon pitched an absolute gem against an Indians team still hot in pursuit of the best record in the AL. Rodon pitched eight shutout innings on September 25th, allowing two hits, three walks, and no runs while striking out eleven. He also pitched well in his sole start against the Tribe this season on July 30th in Chicago (6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K).
Rodon missed most of April, May and June with injuries but has rebounded to pitch well over his last seven starts, averaging over six innings per start with a 3.00 ERA, .238 batting average against, and averaging a strikeout per inning.
Line-ups are below and first pitch is scheduled for 8:10pm ET: