Coming into Thursday night, the stakes were pretty clear for the Cleveland Indians: Another win — No. 22 in a row — would set the modern record for an MLB winning streak, passing the 1935 Chicago Cubs. But a loss to the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland’s magical run would be over.
Oh, but the Indians had a little more magic left in them.
The Indians won a nail-biter against the Royals, 3-2 in 10 innings, a game that began to feel like October as the Indians mounted a ninth-inning rally. Then in the 10th inning, when Jay Bruce knocked a walk-off single into right, it was proven — the Indians wouldn’t be denied a piece of baseball history. They hadn’t lost since Aug. 23 and they wouldn’t on Thursday night. Sorry, Cubs, this is Cleveland’s record now.
Incredibly, it was the Indians’ first walk-off win their 22-game streak. Gotta keep it fresh, right? The Tribe also managed to clinch a postseason berth later in the evening when the Angels lost to the Astros. Cleveland’s main target, of course, is the AL Central crown. Their magic number for that is three.
The Indians faced an unfamiliar task Thursday night — playing from behind late in the game. They trailed the Royals after an Eric Hosmer RBI double in the sixth. They’d only trailed that late in the game one other time during the streak:
This is only the 2nd time during their 21-game win streak that the Indians have trailed in the 6th inning or later.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 15, 2017
The Indians had a chance to come back in the eighth when Jose Ramirez’s one-out double put runners at second and third. But after a walk to load the bases, the Royals got both Bruce and Carlos Santana to pop out in foul territory.
In the ninth, however, they were able to strike even. Just barely. With Erik Gonzalez on first, Francisco Lindor was down to his last strike when he doubled off the left field wall and Gonzalez raced home. In the tenth, Jose Ramirez started the rally by hustling to turn a single into a double and he scored the winning run when Bruce knocked one down the right-field line.
There’s been a healthy amount of debate what is actually the MLB record for longest winning streak. The 1916 New York Giants are credited with winning 26 games. Elias Sports Bureau recognizes that as the record, even though the Giants had one tie in that streak. Back then, tie games were thrown out and replayed, and the Giants won the make-up game.
Some would argue that’s the true record and others would scoff at the idea of a tie being part of a win streak, so MLB decided to just call 21 wins the “modern” record.
Now that the Indians have reached 22, they’re only chasing 26, whether you consider it legit or not. If the Indians can reach 27, that would at least be the end of this debate.
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