- Jason Miller/Getty
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the Cleveland Indians. After a slow start to the season, they sat at just 47-40 at the All-Star break, but their ongoing 21-game winning streak has firmly reestablished their status as World Series contenders.
On Wednesday, Cleveland pulled out its American League record-tying 21st straight victory by beating the Tigers 5-3. It was a typical win for the Indians, who took a lead they never relinquished thanks to a Jay Bruce home run in the bottom of the first inning.
Twenty-one consecutive wins would be impressive enough on its own, but the streak’s sheer length isn’t the only reason for Indians fans to smile. The team has also played incredibly well since it lost its last game, outscoring opponents by a grand sum of 139-35.
That kind of dominance is rarely seen in baseball, even from a team that’s firing off wins left and right. The Indians’ +104 run differential over their last 21 games is better than what most playoff teams do over the course of an entire season. Last year, only four squads (including the 2016 Indians) managed to top that number; this year, six teams have done so.
There’s a reason so few teams reach a +104 run differential over the course of a season: it’s hard to do. But the Indians have been up to the task, scoring nine or more runs in eight of their 21 wins. They’ve smashed 41 home runs (including nine from shortstop Francisco Lindor) and possess a team ERA of 1.79 over 189 innings, shutting teams down with enviable consistency. While injuries have occurred, the bench has been outstanding. Add it all up, and the Indians are generating runs at a much faster pace than they’re giving them up.
That breakneck pace has turned them into World Series frontrunners. While the Twins and Royals were nipping at their heels for much of the season, the winning streak has helped Cleveland open up a 13.5 game lead in the AL Central, all but guaranteeing them another taste of October baseball. After last year’s heartbreaking loss to the Cubs, the Indians’ bid to return to the World Series despite increased scar tissue should be one of the stories of the postseason.
But first, they have a winning streak to sustain. Cleveland’s next game is set for Thursday, when they’ll kick off a four-game series against the Royals.