Little did the Cleveland Indians of August 24 know that their 13-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox would be the start of something historic. That’s exactly what it did, and thanks to the efforts of the Tribe over the coming weeks they just wrapped up their 20th-straight win, tieing an American League record set 15 years ago.
Any win over the Detroit Tigers is extra special, both because of how good they’ve been for so long, and also because screw the Tigers. But tying history — with the chance to make history against them tomorrow — makes it that much better. Add in a vintage Corey Kluber performance, a Francisco Lindor homer, and some outstanding defensive plays and we got ourselves a game to remember for a long time.
There is no way to effectively recap these wins anymore, they just keep coming and they keep coming with the same brutal effectiveness. This win was only by two runs, but I didn’t doubt it would happen from the moment the ball left Lindor’s bat in the first Tribe at-bat of the game. There’s just no tension left. The Indians are going to score first, your team is not going to score, and the Indians are going to win.
Detroit batters were left baffled by Kluber’s slider tonight. According to Baseball Savant, 13 of the 27 called strikes against the Tigers were sliders, and only three were put in play. Kluber’s cutter was the big whiff-inducer as usual, with seven swinging strikes coming on Kluber’s signature pitch. All told, Kluber pitched his fifth complete game of the season, and his third since the beginning of August.
Offensively, the Indians only real outburst came from Francisco Lindor and his lead-off home run. Francisco Mejia technically entered the game, too. But with a runner on third, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus had a brilliant idea: Walk the rookie who made the jump straight from Double-A to face Yan Gomes, a former Silver Slugger winner riding a seven-game hitting streak.
Well, the move technically worked — sort of a resume builder for Brad Ausmus, who probably won’t survive the entire rebuild in Detroit. When he does add it to his “Other Accomplishments” section right under “Caught that cheater Bryan Shaw,” he’ll probably want to leave off the part where his reliever tossed a wild pitch and allowed the second run of the game to slide home.
So for those of you recapping at home: Francisco Mejia walked onto the field, saw that he was intentionally walked, was immediately pinch-run for, and went back to the dugout. It’s the most September baseball thing ever; pinch-running for your top prospect after he came into the game to do literally nothing for another top prospect who never played past Double-A in the minors.
Maybe you don’t even like baseball and are just watching for the thrill of history. Even if that’s the case, you should have loved the ninth inning. The crowd was electric, and Jose Ramirez went all out for the second out. While I realize it’s a cruel joke at this point to say “Jason Kipnis wouldn’t have got that ball,” Jason Kipnis wouldn’t have got that ball. It’s the truth, and it’s clearly one of the reasons Tito likes what he sees with the infield right now. I have no doubt Kipnis can contribute with his bat when he gets back, but boy am I glad we’re not breaking up the currently infield.
Oh, and this happened: