I will admit that I was a little worried going into Monday night’s series opener against the Tigers. I mean, this whole winning streak thing is getting out of hand. Eighteen games in a row? Outscoring their opponents 121-32? Even for lifelong fans with overactive imaginations, it felt a little crazy. This piece from local-boy-who-made-good Joe Posnanski talks about just about dominant the Indians have been during the streak, and that was only after 18 games.
As is their typical M.O., the Indians scored first. Boy did they score–five runs in the second inning. Carlos Santana started things off with a walk. A trio of singles from Yandy Diaz, Yan Gomes, and Greg Allen scored Santana and loaded the bases. Everybody’s favorite hero, Francisco Lindor, smashed a three-run triple to make the score 4-0. Just for good measure, Cleveland tagged on one more run with a sacrifice fly from Jose Ramirez. So with the score 5-0 after two innings, I let myself breathe a small sigh of relief.
At a certain point I was less worried about the score than whether Detroit was just going to try and win the long game by injuring key players. Jose Ramirez was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat, smacked a two-run dinger in his second at-bat to make the score 7-0, and then was hit again, this time by Detroit reliever Warwick Saupold. Detroit challenged the hit-by-pitch call, saying that the ball hit the bat first then ricocheted onto Ramirez’s forearm. They won the challenge. Bully for them. When your pitchers have hit the same player twice in one game, it seems petty to challenge the second call. Just give the dude the base.
In addition to Ramirez getting hit twice, Carlos Santana took a ball to the shoulder in the 3rd inning. Santana had just safely crossed 1st base, and Detroit 2nd baseman Ian Kinsler misplayed the ball and made an errant throw. It was the first of two errors charged to Detroit. The second came in the 4th and was far more amusing. Edwin Encarnacion hit a high fly ball to deep right-center. Tiger centerfielder JaCoby Jones and left fielder Nick Castellanos narrowly missed both each other and the ball, giving Encarnacion an easy double. Look, I know Matt Underwood and Rick Manning try to provide entertaining banter throughout the game, but they’ve never made me laugh out loud the way that play did.
Carlos Carrasco made the start for Cleveland, going 6 innings and giving up 7 hits, no runs, 1 walk, and striking out 9. But the Indians scored 11 runs, which is the kind of run support most pitchers can only dream of.
To be honest, the Tigers looked as though they knew they were just playing the role of Latest-Team-To-Get-Beaten and didn’t seem all that interested in actually playing the game. I felt kind of bad for them and for the Detroit fans. We’ve all watched our team get demolished before and we probably will again. I say probably because, frankly, the Cleveland Indians are playing as though they can’t lose. This is something we’ve never seen before. Not just “we” as Cleveland fans but “we” as baseball fans. No team has ever been this dominant during a streak. We’ll keep enjoying it.