Corey Kluber's Shutout Continues Indians Rotation's Excellence Amidst 20-Game Streak

Corey Kluber's brilliance helped Cleveland tie the American League record 20-game winning streak on Tuesday, as just the latest dominant rotation from an Indians starter.
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The Cleveland Inevitables—er, Indians—have made history again! With their 2-0 win over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Tuesday night, they've tied the 2002 Oakland A's 20-game winning streak, the longest in the history of the American League and the longest in the majors since the dawn of expansion in 1961. Since 1900, only the 21-game winning streak of the 1935 Chicago Cubs is longer.

While Tuesday’s score was close, there wasn't a ton of suspense in the record-tying game. Leadoff batter Francisco Lindor homered off Tigers starter Matthew Boyd in the bottom of the first inning, his 30th of the season and his team-high ninth during the streak (breaking a tie with teammate Jose Ramirez). The team tacked on a second run in the sixth inning via Carlos Santana's leadoff double, a groundout and a wild pitch.


That was more than enough offense to back ace Corey Kluber, who spun his third shutout of the season, notched his 16th win, and lowered ERA to 2.44, all good for at least a share of the AL lead (he's tied with Ervin Santana in shutouts, and Chris Sale and teammate Trevor Bauer in wins). The 31-year-old righty scattered five hits and didn't walk a batter while striking out eight. After allowing a leadoff double to Ian Kinsler in the first inning, Kluber retired 19 of the next 20 hitters he faced, with a two-out double in the fourth by Nick Castellanos the only blemish. Though Kluber allowed hits in each of the last three innings—a single by Castellanos in the seventh, a single by Tyler Collins in the eighth, and a double by Alex Presley in the ninth—he needed just 52 pitches after the fourth, with no more than 12 in any inning. He threw 113 pitches overall, and ended the game by retiring Miguel Cabrera, who represented the tying run, on a chopper to third baseman Giovanny Urshela. (video?)

As a team, the shutout was the Indians' seventh of the streak, with the Tigers additionally falling victims on September 1 (the nightcap of the doubleheader) and September 11. The Indians have allowed just seven runs in their past seven games, and have outscored their opponents 134-32 during this stretch, the widest scoring margin from among the half-dozen longest streaks since 1900. For more comparisons to the greatest winning streaks in history, see here, and for more amazing facts and figures pertaining to the streak, see here.

The Indians’ rotation has been particularly stingy during this run, delivering a 1.71 ERA and 9.2 strikeouts per nine while averaging 6.3 innings per turn. Fifteen of the 20 starts have been quality starts, while only one—Danny Salazar’s four-run, 2/3-inning dud against the White Sox on September 5—was shorter than five innings. Kluber has a 1.40 ERA in 32 innings during the streak, but Carlos Carrasco has a 0.62 mark in 29 innings, and Mike Clevinger has delivered 18 scoreless frames via three starts of six shutout innings apiece. 

As Indians Close on Record, Is Cleveland's Winning Streak MLB's Most Impressive Ever?

On the other side of the ball, while Tuesday wasn’t a banner night for the offense, which collected nine hits but went just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Indians have been cranking out 6.70 runs per game over the course of the streak while batting a collective .308/.387/.556. Lindor (.364/.437/.792 with a team-high 19 RBI), Ramirez (.391/.426/.922), Santana (.358/.482/.687 with five homers) and the catching tandem of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez (a combined .342/.381/.633 with six homers) have been the hottest of the hot. During the streak, the Indians have outhomered opponents 39-11—that’s nearly two per game compared to one every other game. 

The Indians (89-56) will have their chance to break the AL record and tie the 1935 Cubs' record on Wednesday against the Tigers (60-84), whom they've beaten in 12 out of 18 games thus far this year. Starting for Cleveland will be Clevinger (9-5, 3.30 ERA, 10.2 K/9), while Buck Farmer (4-2, 6.32) goes for the Tigers.​