Imagine, just for a moment, that you had seen this coming.
Imagine that, on Aug. 24, you placed a $100 bet on the Cleveland Indians to beat the Boston Red Sox, then let that bet ride for the next 20 games. You, my friend, would be a millionaire.
That’s just one of the mind-blowing takeaways from the Indians’ current 21-game win streak, which they extended Wednesday afternoon in a 5-3 triumph over the Detroit Tigers. Cleveland’s latest W moved the club past the 2002 Oakland Athletics into a second-place tie for the longest win streak in Major League Baseball history.
But there’s plenty to suggest we’re witnessing the most dominant run ever at the big-league level.
For starters: The Indians haven’t just beaten opposing teams. They’ve destroyed them. The Tribe have pitched seven shutouts during the streak and have won four games by 10 runs or more. They’ve outscored their opponents by a total of 104 runs in that span and have hit more home runs (41) than runs they’ve allowed (35).
Over their last 189 innings of baseball, they’ve trailed in just four.
Such complete dominance would be unprecedented in any era, but it’s even more remarkable in the 21st century, where a collective bargaining agreement and a luxury tax are in place to promote parity between teams. We haven’t seen a repeat World Series winner in 16 years, and the Indians themselves were a .500 team just two seasons ago.
Then there’s this: The only winning streak longer than Cleveland’s comes with a caveat. In the middle of the 1916 New York Giants’ 26-game winning streak, one of their games ended in a 1-1 tie after eight innings due to inclement weather. The Giants played a doubleheader the next day and won both games, but some argue the Giants’ “streak” should have ended with that tie.
The Chicago White Stockings’ 1880 streak also included a tie, so if you’re of the belief that ties end winning streaks, the Indians are on par with the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the longest unbroken winning streak ever. The ’35 Cubs were an absolute juggernaut, finishing that season with a 100-54 record, but their run differential during that streak (plus-87) still was lower than the Tribe’s.
Of course, these are technicalities which Cleveland could smooth over by continuing to pummel its opponents. As far as the eye test goes, though, the Indians are in a league of their own, riding a hot lineup and absolutely lights-out pitching led by otherworldly ace Corey Kluber. They’re hitting .308 as a team during their streak — as opposed to Oakland’s .299 batting average in its streak — and boast an insanely low team ERA.
Cleveland’s quest for immortality will continue Thursday night in a home series opener against the Kansas City Royals. But as far as the numbers go, the Indians already have solidified a permanent place in baseball lore.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images