by Rob Joyce
Cleveland is in uncharted territory. After Monday’s win against the Tigers, the Indians have upped their win streak to 19 games, in the process overtaking Houston for best record in the American League. Since a 6-1 loss to Boston on August 23, Cleveland is outscoring opponents 132-32, throwing six shutouts in that span while increasing their lead in the AL Central from 4.5 games to 13.5.
With a series against the struggling Tigers up next, Cleveland could threaten the modern day record (since 1901) for most consecutive victories. Not counting streaks with ties (ties were more common in the dead ball era through the early 20th century) here is the company with which the 2017 Indians keep:
1) 1935 Cubs – 21 games:
The 1916 New York Giants had a 26-game unbeaten streak, and the 1880 Chicago White Stockings had a 21-game stretch, but both involved ties. The Cubs went 21-0 from September 4-28, picking the perfect time to overtake the Cardinals for first in the National League and win the pennant. The streak ended with two days left in the season, but they couldn’t ride the wave to a World Series, losing in six games to the Tigers.
2) 2002 Athletics – 20 games:
Oakland was 4.5 games out in the AL West after a loss to Toronto on August 12. Nearly a month later, back-to-back-to-back walk-off wins propelled the A’s to a 20-game streak and a 3.5-game division lead. On the mound Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder combined to go 11-0, while shortstop Miguel Tejada would help secure his MVP season by hitting .322 in August. Minnesota, who ended the win streak, would also end Oakland’s season, taking the ALDS in five games.
T3) 1947 Yankees – 19 games:
When 1947 started it had been three straight years without New York appearing in a World Series – a nearly unthinkable mark for the time. World War II certainly played a role, but with everyone back and healthy for the ’47 season, the Yankees returned to their dominant form. Already up 4.5 in the American League on June 29, New York lost game one of a doubleheader to the Washington Senators. They’d take game two, and wouldn’t lose again until July 19. By that point they held an 11.5-game lead, and when July 22 came it wouldn’t shrink below 10 games again the rest of the year. New York would win the World Series, beating Brooklyn in seven games.
T3) 2017 Indians – 19 games:
Cleveland now holds the longest win streak ever by a team that appeared in the World Series the year prior, and they’ve done it at the plate and on the mound, averaging 6.9 runs per game while allowing just 1.7. In fact, they’ve allowed four or more runs just three times during this streak – a 13-6 win against the Red Sox, in which they knocked Chris Sale around, and a pair of 9-4 wins against the Yankees and White Sox. It’s fair to say that the path to the World Series in the AL runs through Progressive Field.
5) Two teams – 18 games:
The 1904 New York Giants and 1953 Yankees each won 18 in a row. Christy Mathewson is the most famous name to appear on the Giants’ roster, as the 23-year-old finished the year going 33-12 with a 2.03 earned run average. However he was second-fiddle to Hall of Famer Joe McGinnity, who was 35-8 with a 1.61 ERA. When their streak started on June 16 the Giants held a half-game lead in the National League, and increased it to 10.5 when it ended on July 5. Though they’d win the NL, there was no 1904 World Series, as the Giants refused to play the AL champion Boston Americans, considering the AL a minor league.
In the Yankees’ case, they ended the pennant race before it even got going. Between May 27 and June 14 New York created a 10.5-game lead for themselves. They would wind up leading the league in both runs per game and runs allowed. Yogi Berra finished second in MVP voting, 21-year-old Mickey Mantle hit .295 with 21 home runs, and they’d go on to beat the Dodgers (again) in the World Series for a fifth straight championship.