Athletics

Move over A's: Indians win 21st straight game, set American League record

indians-us.jpg
USATSI

Move over A's: Indians win 21st straight game, set American League record

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- For more than 100 years, American League teams have gone on winning streaks of varying lengths - short ones, long ones, double-digit ones.

Nothing, though, like the one the Cleveland Indians have pieced together.

A streak for the ages.

Moving past the "Moneyball" Oakland Athletics, the Indians set the AL record with their 21st straight win on Wednesday, 5-3 over the Detroit Tigers, to join only two other teams in the past 101 years to win that many consecutive games.

Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer off Buck Farmer (4-3) and Mike Clevinger (10-5) won his fourth straight start as the Indians, a team with its sights set on ending the majors' longest World Series title drought, matched the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second-longest streak since 1900.

And in doing so, they separated themselves from every AL team since the league was formed in 1901.

"Who would've ever thought that we'd be in this situation?" Bruce said. "I can't even imagine."

Believe it.

Now that they've moved past those 2002 A's immortalized on film, the Indians are within five wins of catching the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 straight without a loss but whose century-old mark includes a tie.

The Indians haven't lost in 20 days, and they've rarely been challenged during a late-season run in which they've dominated every aspect of the game.

"I think they're enjoying themselves," manager Terry Francona said as clubhouse music boomed in the background. "They should. I think what's kind of cool about our game is when you do things, and you do them the right way, I think it means more. Our guys are playing the game to win, the right way.

"That part's very meaningful. They should enjoy what they're doing. It's pretty special."

After leading 4-1, the Indians had to overcome a costly error and rely on their bullpen to hold off the Tigers, who have lost 11 of 12 to Cleveland and saw manager Brad Ausmus and catcher James McCann ejected from the series finale.

Roberto Perez added a homer in the seventh and four Cleveland relievers finished, with Cody Allen working the ninth for his 27th save.

With the crowd of 29,346 standing and stomping, Allen retired Ian Kinsler on a sinking liner for the final out, giving the Indians the league's longest streak since the AL was founded 116 years ago.

There was no big celebration afterward as the Indians simply congratulated one another and stuck to their routine.

"We're so focused," said Bruce, who arrived via trade last month from the New York Mets. "I thought we were playing the Royals today. ... Everyone comes here and gets ready to play today and I think that's something that speaks volumes."

During their streak, which began with a 13-6 win over Boston ace Chris Sale on Aug. 23, the Indians have rarely been tied, never mind equaled, for nine innings. They have been superior in every way possible.

Cleveland's starters have gone 19-0 with a 1.70 ERA, they've outscored their opponents 139-35 and trailed in only four of 189 innings.

Incredibly, the Indians have hit more home runs (40) than their pitchers have given up in total runs.

And while they've racked up win after win, the defending AL champs have reduced their magic number for winning their second straight AL Central title to four. They've also passed Houston for the league's best record, which will come into play in the postseason as the team with the best overall mark will have home-field advantage.

Now that they're alongside the 1935 Cubs, the Indians have a realistic shot of running down the 1916 Giants.

Cleveland opens four-game series on Thursday against Kansas City, which was outscored 20-0 on its three-day visit last month.

Francona was asked if he thought the Giants' run should be the record since it includes a tie.

"I wasn't there," he said, drawing laughter. "I've given that zero thought. I promise you I've given it no thought."

With a shot at AL history, Clevinger took the mound with Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" blasting through the ballpark's sound system, and Cleveland's crowd came to rock - and witness history - on a mostly sunny day.

Some parents kept their kids home from school and brought them to Progressive Field to see a once-in-a-lifetime event Cleveland residents may remember more than any solar eclipse. They cheered every two-strike count like it was October and there was something much bigger on the line. The Indians have viewed the streak as a perfect postseason warmup as they try to end a Series title drought dating to 1948.

Clevinger, who didn't allow a run in 18 innings over his three previous starts, was down 1-0 in the first after Jeimer Candelario touched him for a two-out RBI double.

But as they have done for the past three weeks, the Indians responded, with Bruce connecting for a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers.

"Expected, I would say by now," Clevinger said of the Indians' 3-run answer. "I don't think there was a second that I doubted we were going to score some runs or string together some hits."

SIZZLING SEPTEMBER

At 14-0, the Indians are off to the best start in September since the 1991 Minnesota Twins went 15-0.

TESTY TIGERS

Two batters after Ausms and McCann were ejected, a pitch from Farmer eluded catcher John Hicks, who had just entered the game, and struck plate umpire Quinn Wolcott in the chest.

Farmer disputed that the Tigers would try to intentionally hit Wolcott.

"The fact that's even a question is appalling," Farmer said. "It shouldn't be a question. When you look at the situation it's stupid to even think about. It shouldn't even be a thought from anybody that Hicks and I would do that."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Tigers: OF Mikie Mahtook missed his fifth consecutive game after being scratched from a Sept. 9 game against Toronto with left groin soreness. Ausmus said Mahtook was "getting closer, but he's not ready."

Indians: All-Star reliever Andrew Miller will be activated from the disabled list Thursday following his second stint on the disabled list with knee tendinitis.

UP NEXT

The Indians' Josh Tomlin, who is 5-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last six outings, starts the opener against Royals rookie Jakob Junis.

Olson breaks Oakland rookie record by homering in fifth consecutive game

baseball-generic.jpg

Olson breaks Oakland rookie record by homering in fifth consecutive game

The beat goes on for Matt Olson, who set an Oakland rookie record Tuesday by homering for the fifth consecutive game.

That makes it 23 in just 55 games this season for the A’s first baseman, and an astonishing 15 homers in his past 21 games. In his first plate appearance Tuesday, Olson pounded a hanging 0-1 curve from Tigers lefty Chad Bell deep into the right field seats at Comerica Park.

Since Aug. 11, Olson leads the American League with 19 homers. And his 23 homers are the most in franchise history over the first 66 games of a career.

According to @dakern74, just three others in Oakland history have ever gone deep five games in a row: Dave Kingman in 1986, Matt Stairs in 1998 and Frank Thomas in 2006.

A by-the-numbers look at Matt Olson's home run tear

olson-matt-green-swing-phillies.jpg
USATI

A by-the-numbers look at Matt Olson's home run tear

When it comes to power hitting, rookie first baseman Matt Olson has enjoyed one of the most impressive career-opening stretches in A’s history.

He went deep again in Monday night’s 8-3 victory over Detroit. Although he’s only played in roughly one-third of Oakland’s games this year, Olson has vaulted into a tie for fourth on the team with 22 homers this season.

Here’s a glance inside some of the numbers behind the rookie’s home run tear:

22 — Olson’s 2017 —and career — home run total. Those 22 homers tie Mark McGwire for most in franchise history over a player’s first 65 games.

18: The number of times Olson has gone deep since Aug. 11, which leads the American League.

19 — The number of major league games Olson appeared in before connecting for his first homer. That came June 24. Since then, he hasn’t gone more than eight games in the majors without clearing the fence.

47 — Olson was the 47th overall pick of the 2012 draft, a compensation choice between the first and second rounds. He was one of a trio of high school infielders Oakland took with its first three picks that year. The others were two shortstops — Addison Russell (11th overall) and Daniel Robertson (34th).

At the time the A’s said perhaps they had drafted three-fourths of their future infield. But Russell and Robertson eventually got dealt. Now, Olson is part of a different young infield core that could include third baseman Matt Chapman and second baseman Franklin Barreto along with veteran shortstop Marcus Semien.

2: The number of players in the past 30 years to hit 20 homers in both the minors and majors in the same season. Olson has done it this year. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who’s generating his share of headlines with his own power hitting, did it back in 2010.

103 The number of homers Olson hit over five minor league seasons leading into this year. That included a whopping 37 for Single-A Stockton in the homer-happy California League in 2014. In comparison, the 17 homers he hit each of the next two seasons at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville looked paltry. Olson says he struggled for a while to trust his natural power stroke and not try to alter his approach too much to boost those power numbers.

4: The total number of major leaguers produced by Olson’s alma mater of Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga. The others were outfielder Jeff Francoeur, infielder Jeff Keppinger and catcher Clint Sammons.

4 (Part II): Number of consecutive games Olson has homered in. That ties the Oakland rookie record for most games in a row with a homer. Dan Johnson also homered in four straight from Aug. 3-6, 2005. Extend it out farther, and Olson has gone deep 14 times over his past 20 games. And speaking of that …

14: Olson is tied with a couple of legends when it comes to most homers in a 20-game span in Oakland history. McGwire (1987) and Reggie Jackson (1969) also had 14 over their own 20-game stretches, and Jackson did it twice that season. (Hat tip to A’s P.R. stats guru Mike Selleck for several of these factoids, by the way).

23: Remember that Olson is just 23 years old. His 22 homers are the most in a single season by an Athletic 23 or younger since Eric Chavez swatted 32 back in 2001. Chavez also was 23 at the time.