Cleveland — Well, never let it be said that the 2017 Detroit Tigers didn’t contribute to the history of the game.
Call them Victim 21.
With a 5-3 win over the Tigers on Wednesday, the Indians extended their winning streak to 21 games, setting the American League record. The Oakland A's won 20 on a row in 2002.
The Chicago Cubs also won 21 in a row in 1935. The New York Giants won 26 in a row in 1916, and own the major-league record. That Giants’ streak featured a game suspended when it was tied, but the tie didn’t count in the standings.
The Indians have outscored their opponents by 104 runs during the streak (139-35).
To put it in a different light, the Tigers have won 21 games total since the All-Star break. The Indians have won 21 straight since Aug. 23, beating the Tigers seven straight times within the streak.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Tigers first baseman Andrew Romine. “It was pretty impressive. We went out there and battled, man. But that is a tough team right now. They’re extremely hot and their starting pitchers are dealing.”
The Indians starters are now 19-0 in the streak with a 1.70 ERA. Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber pitched shutouts against the Tigers in the first two games of this series.
“I heard something about Mike Clevinger (the starter Wednesday) not giving up an earned run throughout the streak,” Romine said. “At least we ended up scratching a couple across against him.”
When Jeimer Candelario doubled in a run in the first inning, it was the first time the Tigers held a lead in a game against the Indians since before the All-Star break. It was only the second time in the 21 games the Indians hadn’t scored first.
The lead lasted five batters.
Against right-hander Buck Farmer, Francisco Lindor led off the bottom of the first with a double and Jose Ramirez walked. With two outs, Jay Bruce tagged a 1-1 fastball just over the tall wall in left field – a three-run home run the Tigers couldn’t quite recover from.
At that point, the Indians had hit more home runs (40) during the streak than runs allowed (33).
“I pretty much went from what ended up being one of the least fun situations in baseball to the most fun,” said Bruce, who was acquired by the Indians from Mets in August. “That's no slight to the Mets at all, but to have the opportunity to come to a team like this doesn't happen very often.
“I'm very fortunate to be in this situation.”
The Tigers had some issues with the strike zone of plate umpire Quinn Wolcott, which lead to the ejections of catcher James McCann and manager Brad Ausmus in the third inning. But the Tigers kept battling.
“What the Indians are doing is special,” McCann said. “But when you at our team, we came in here Friday night and got run off the field 11-0. It would have been real easy to come back the next two nights and just give in and give it to them.
“But we gave them two hard fights.”
Farmer, who walked three and struck out seven, was at 98 pitches and finished after allowing four runs in four innings. Left-hander Daniel Norris came on and pitched two scoreless innings while the Tigers tried to fight their way back.
A two-base error by third baseman Yandy Diaz on a ground ball by Miguel Cabrera gave the Tigers an opening in the sixth inning. Nick Castellanos, who had extended his hit streak to 10 games with a single in the third inning, doubled Cabrera home to make it 4-2.
Then, with two outs, Romine dropped a single to right to score Castellanos and make it a one-run game.
“The fact that we are on the other side of it stinks, but these games are fun,” Romine said. “These are the kind of games everyone wants to play in – playing in front of a bunch of people going crazy. It was a fun, exciting atmosphere.”
The Tigers managed only one hit off four Indians relievers. And Norris, after dispatching seven straight hitters, left an 0-2 fastball over the plate and Roberto Perez blasted it 426 feet over the 19-foot wall in center field to finish the scoring.
“I’ve said all week, they are a very balanced team — offense, pitching, bullpen and defense,” Ausmus said. “They are a well-balanced, talented team…The last two games we put up a fight. But quite frankly, they are better than us right now.”
The Indians will try to one-up the 1935 Cubs on Thursday against the Royals.