The Cleveland Indians have won 21 straight games entering play Thursday, but that fact alone doesn’t do justice to just how dominant Terry Francona’s team has been.
The Indians have trailed for just four of 171 innings during their streak, they’ve hit 41 home runs while allowing just 35 runs total, they have a team ERA of 1.79, and they have a run differential of plus-104, which is, in a word, insane.
What is happening right now?!
“It’s been just incredible to see the support from the fan base around here and to see the way this has been a collective contribution from the whole team,” Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, those guys have been out on the DL, and we’ve had Yandy Diaz, Ryan Merritt, Giovanny Urshela – young guys – come up, fill those spots, play really well.
“So more than anything, as we hopefully prepare for the postseason, you’re seeing a lot of young guys contribute in what almost feels like a playoff-intensity type of environment,” Chernoff continued. “(As far as) peaking too early, I’m not sure that’s a concern. I think in some ways, it’s almost better that we’re playing in a really intense environment right now. There is something on the line and our young players have to deal with that.”
The Indians (90-56) lost at home to the Red Sox, 6-1, on Aug. 23 to fall to 69-56 on the season. They haven’t lost since.
They now have a 13.5 game lead on the Twins (76-69) in the AL Central, not to mention the best record in the American League.
But what happens if the Indians clinch a playoff berth but keep winning and pass the 1916 New York Giants’ 26-game unbeaten streak? Will Francona rest his stars for the playoffs or try to keep the streak alive?
“We will deal with that,” Chernoff said, laughing. “I hope that can happen. This streak has been really fun for our fan base and for the community here in Cleveland. We get walk-ups of like 5,000 fans a game. It’s been phenomenal all around town. Look, we’re 14 games up now in the division. It can be hard to create the same type of intensity that you want your guys to have towards the end of the season when you’re in that kind of lead. This has been great because guys want to make sure they continue this streak. It’s important to them. They’ve been doing this for the fan base.”
They’re also not getting ahead of themselves. The Los Angeles Dodgers (94-52) have the best record in baseball but recently lost 16 of 17, including 11 straight.
“That can happen to really good teams,” Chernoff said. “We’re trying not to take anything for granted and just stay as consistent as we possibly can both in the clubhouse and on the field.”
The Indians begin a four-game home series with the Royals on Thursday. Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer will take the hill for the Indians on Thursday and Friday, respectively.