Indians set new AL record for consecutive wins, push streak to 21 games
Cleveland reached 21 straight wins, but whether that's an all-time record is a source of debate
For a few fleeting minutes, the Indians were in relative trouble. The Tigers pushed across a run in the top of the first, and with that the Indians for just the second game of this streak failed to score the first run. It also put them in danger of trailing for just the fifth inning during said streak. Then, however, Buck Farmer's faltering command led up to this Jay Bruce three-run shot, which was held up on review …
Per win expectancy, that gave the Indians a 70.5 percent chance of winning their 21st straight game. Recent history, of course, makes that figure feel like an undersell. The Tigers made things interesting in the middle innings, but the Cleveland bullpen in relief of Mike Clevinger worked 3 1/3 scoreless, and Roberto Perez added some insurance with a solo homer in the seventh. Cleveland went on to prevail by a score of 5-3 (box score).
So that's 21 in a row. That now stands alone as the AL record, and it also ties the mark of the 1935 Cubs. To hear most tell it, that's the all-time record, but it's not quite that simple. John McGraw's 1916 Giants won 26 in a row, but that mark is somewhat compromised by a tie that was mixed in.
After winning 12 in a row, the Pirates-Giants game at the Polo Grounds was called because of the weather after nine innings with the score 1-1. They played a doubleheader the next day to make up for it, which the Giants won. These days, the two teams would just have completed the game from the night before, but that wasn't the policy way back when. As well, ties in those days were not counted in the standings or in the official statistics. It's as though the game never happened, even though it was a regular season contest that spanned the full nine innings. Anyhow, after sweeping that twin bill the Giants would win 12 more before losing again. Via the AP, here's what Steve Hirdt of Elias says about the Giants' mark and its current relevance:
"The Giants' 26-game winning streak has existed since the beginning of time. I do not know why certain people are looking at the 21 now and holding that up as the record or alternately trying to parse language so that they can somehow exclude the 26.
"It's the longest winning streak, it's the record for most consecutive wins, etc., because a tie game breaks neither a winning streak or losing streak for a team because it always gets replayed unless the season ends first."
Hirdt's point is a sound one, but it's not as clear cut and Hirdt wants it to be. Some might interpret "win streak" as winning every game you play during the streak in question. The Giants didn't do that. Maybe call it the longest unbeaten streak. Anyhow, it wouldn't be baseball without ancient nuances complicating the present.
So here's what this scribe is saying: The 2017 Indians and 1935 Cubs share the record for the longest win streak in MLB history. The 1916 Giants have the longest unbeaten streak in MLB history at 27 games. Opinions and interpretations -- including, possibly, your own -- may vary.
What we do know is that the Indians now own the longest win streak in AL history and are on pace to win 100 games for just the third time in franchise history. On Thursday evening, they'll host the Royals and attempt to push the streak to 22 games.
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