The Cleveland Indians (95-57) were just trying to win the AL Central. Then they were vying for the best record in the American League. And now? Now they’re one game back of the Dodgers (96-56) for the best record in baseball (entering play Sept. 21).
Of course, that’s what happens when you win 26 out of 27 games. Cleveland has just one loss – a one-run loss, at that – since Aug. 23.
“It’s been pretty incredible,” MLB.com Indians reporter Jordan Bastian said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They’re so focused on the day-to-day. That’s kind of what’s been really remarkable. Last year, they went through a 14-game winning streak and set the previous franchise record then. You could really tell that that team was really kind of coming into its own and being put on the national radar obviously with that run that they had to the World Series. But before that, they had that winning streak. You could tell last year they were really getting caught up in the winning streak, and when it ended, there was almost this exhaustion that hit the team after dealing with all the questions.
“This year, it was a totally different feel,” Bastian continued. “They really weren’t wrapped up in the winning streak. It was more the embodiment of that mentality that comes from the manager’s office: ‘Take care of the game today’ and all those cliches you hear. There was no lull after this streak ended. Now they’ve won 26 out of 27, which is pretty incredible.”
The Indians lead the majors in run differential (+231), as the Yankees (+186) are the only other team in baseball with a run differential of +175 or greater. Cleveland is fourth in the AL in runs scored (769) but first by a mile in runs allowed (538). Boston is second with 616.
“From a statistical standpoint, the pitching is powering this,” Bastian said. “Depending on what you think about statistics like WAR, they’re chasing the 1996 Braves for the best single-season pitching WAR for a pitching staff top to bottom. They’ve got Corey Kluber obviously leading the way in another Cy Young-caliber campaign. The guys behind him in the rotation have really stepped up, and the bullpen, even without Andrew Miller for a while, (has done well). There have been contributions throughout the roster. Obviously (Francisco) Lindor and Jose Ramirez have come to the forefront and are now being discussed as MVP-type candidates. It’s been sort of all across the board, but pitching has really powered it. That’s why you saw a run differential of 100-plus runs during that winning streak.”