A two-run blast from Jose Ramirez wasn’t enough to earn win number 23 for the Indians, as they fell just short in a loss to the Royals, 4-3.
When you look at all of the 16+ game winning streaks in major league baseball history, there aren’t many that took place in the post-expansion era. Out of the top 30 (16+) streaks, just the 2002 Oakland A’s (20 games), the 1977 Kansas City Royals (16 games), the 1986-87 Milwaukee Brewers (16 games, spanned over the offseason), and now the 2017 Cleveland Indians took place after the expansion era. In fact, in addition to those four just three others even took place after World War II – the 1947 New York Yankees (19), the 1953 Yankees (18), and the 1951 New York Giants (16). That puts into perspective just how special the Indians’ 22-game winning streak truly is. When you consider the fact that they had a 14-game winning streak just last season, they’re likely into completely uncharted territory in major league history.
The amazing thing about Friday night’s game is that the Indians still managed to come close to a win. A go-ahead hit by Lorenzo Cain gave the Royals a 4-3 lead in the top of the 6th inning, and the Tribe was unable to mount a last minute comeback as they did on Thursday night. It wasn’t a blowout, and was by no means a bad game. It was quite simply a respectable loss, one that had to come at one point or another. The Royals’ season is on life support at this point, and they played their hearts out during the first two games of the series.
Trevor Bauer wasn’t as sharp as he has been, but he still pitched a decent game. Unfortunately the Indians just weren’t able to put enough runs on the board this time. They jumped on the board early, when Francisco Lindor scored on a sacrifice fly from Edwin Encarnacion (Lindor had doubled to start the inning). Jose Ramirez once again came through in a big way as he launched a high pitch from Jason Vargas onto the home run porch in the 3rd inning. The Royals kept fighting back though, tying the game at 1 in the second inning, and chipping away a run at a time to the Indians’ 3-1 lead. Brandon Moss hit a solo home run, continuing his constant plaguing of the Indians. He torments them every time he’s faces them, no matter the team, and even tormented them by playing poorly when he was on the roster for part of the 2015 season.
Throughout this entire streak, the Indians played completely free and loose. However, they did seem to tense up over the past couple of days as the streak stretched into truly historic territory. In post-game interviews on Friday night, I believe it was Austin Jackson who said the loss almost came as a relief. You know they can’t continue the streak indefinitely, and perhaps it’s good to end it and relax a bit before the pressure cooker of the postseason gets underway. At this point the magic number is down to two, and the Indians have already clinched a spot in the postseason at the very least. The next milestone is wrapping up the AL Central, and then it’s time to rest up for the ALDS.
Like any Indians fan, I desperately want to see a World Series championship in Cleveland and won’t be able to rest until it happens. However, regardless of however the rest of the season plays out, we saw something amazing and historic over the past several weeks. Even though regular season accomplishments are often viewed through the lens of the postseason (like the 116-win 2001 Seattle Mariners, who lost in the ALCS) we need to acknowledge that the 2017 Indians did something special. I hope that it’s only the first of many incredible things we’ll see from this team as fall progresses.