Athletics

Tale of the Tape: Indians one win away from A's historic streak

Tale of the Tape: Indians one win away from A's historic streak

UPDATE (8pm PT on Tuesday): The Indians equaled the A's 20-game winning streak with a 2-0 win over the Tigers on Tuesday in Cleveland.

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BOSTON — The Cleveland Indians’ incredible 19-game winning streak is just one shy of the American League record for most consecutive victories.

As they attempt to tie the 2002 A’s AL-record mark of 20 in a row, there’s a natural comparison to make between that squad and the current Cleveland bunch. Here’s a breakdown of the similarities — and differences — between these two amazing feats:

**Both streaks began around the same time of the season, bridging August and September, cementing both as legitimate postseason threats. The A’s streak ran from Aug. 13-Sept.4. The Indians began their torrid run Aug. 24 and it’s still going entering Tuesday's home game against the Detroit Tigers.

**There’s arguments for both over which streak is more memorable, but there’s no doubt that Cleveland’s has been flat-out more dominant. A look at some of the key numbers during each team’s respective streak. Keep in mind the A’s numbers are through 20 games, and the Indians’ only 19:

Batting avg.
Oak: .299
Clev: .309

HRs:
Oak: 30
Clev: 38

OPS:
Oak: .885
Clev: .951

ERA:
Oak: 2.65
Clev: 1.68

The Indians’ pitching staff has thrown six shutouts during Cleveland’s streak. The 2002 A’s threw just two, but in eight of their wins they held opponents to two or fewer runs. And excellent starting pitching is a hallmark of both streaks.

Run differential:
Oak: plus-76 (they outscored opponents 141-65)
Clev: plus-100 (a 132-32 margin)

The Indians are flat-out steamrolling opponents, trailing in just four of 171 innings they’ve played. The A’s? In 14 of their 20 wins, they never trailed. But they also offered fans an absolute thrill ride with three walk-offs in games No. 18, 19 and 20.

***One edge the 2002 A’s do hold over the Indians— they faced a lot tougher challenge within their division during their streak, so you could argue their 20-gamer was more pressure-packed. When the A’s began their streak, they were 68-51 and in third place in the AL West behind the Mariners and Angels. Twenty victories later, they were in first place, but only by 3 1/2 games. That cushion would have been larger if not for the Angels going 14-6 during the same 20-game stretch.

The Indians already were on top of the AL Central by 4 1/2 games, at 69-56, when they started their streak. That lead has since ballooned to 13 1/2 games because the Minnesota Twins, their closest division competition, has gone a pedestrian 9-8 during the same stretch. But, to the Indians’ credit, they’ve made a mad charge to pass the Astros for the best record in the league, which could ultimately land them the top seed in the AL playoff bracket.

***Let’s not forget the Hollywood angle here: Brad Pitt played Billy Beane in the Grammy-nominated movie “Moneyball”, which revolved around the A’s 2002 season. The Indians were the centerpiece to the hilarious 1989 comedy “Major League,” with the plot built partly around the franchise’s decades-long history of losing.

Two completely different kinds of movies, each excellent in their own way. It depends on your cinematic tastes.

***In the big picture, the question boils down to this: Where did these two winning streaks ultimately take their teams? The A’s 20-gamer catapulted them to 103 wins and the AL West title. But they fell in five games to the Twins in the AL Division Series, a letdown after all they accomplished in the regular season.

Will the Indians’ winning streak pave the way to their first World Series crown since 1948? That drama has yet to play out.

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

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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.

Jharel Cotton suffers injury during pregame warmups, scratched vs Tigers

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NBCSportsBayArea.com

Jharel Cotton suffers injury during pregame warmups, scratched vs Tigers

A’s rookie Jharel Cotton was a late scratch from Monday’s start in Detroit after suffering a strained right groin.

Cotton began his typical pregame throwing routine at Comerica Park. Then cameras caught him grabbing at his leg. Shortly after, he walked off the field and long reliever Raul Alcantara went out to warm up. Alcantara made the start in the opener of a three-game series against the Tigers.

Though there was no indication from the A’s about the severity of the strain, with less than two weeks left in the regular season, it brings up the possibility of Cotton simply being shut down for the season. More detail likely will be given to reporters by manager Bob Melvin after the game.

Cotton is 8-10 with a 5.81 ERA in 23 starts this season.