The Cleveland Indians’ American League record win streak has been a near month-long run of dominance, strangely bereft of drama and almost entirely without adversity.
Thursday night, aiming to stretch their streak to 22 games, the Indians finally found the odds against them – and learned they were good enough to overcome them.
Down to their final strike in the bottom of the ninth inning against Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor smoked a double off the left-field wall, scoring the tying run and sending the game to extra innings.
One inning later, Jay Bruce lashed an RBI single to score Jose Ramirez and the Indians moved a notch higher in the record books with their 22nd straight win, a 3-2 heart-stopper at Progressive Field.
A #walkoff for the win streak?
One of Bruce’s greatest hits, for sure. pic.twitter.com/po5DXhca4T— MLB (@MLB) September 15, 2017
The Indians moved past the 1935 Chicago Cubs on baseball’s all-time winning streak list – and earned the distinction of the longest winning streak without benefit of a tie. Next up: The 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 games in a row, with one game ruled a tie after a weather-shortened, eight inning game.
This was the Indians' first extra-inning game and first walk-off victory in a streak that began on Aug. 24. Heck, coming into the game, the Indians had trailed for just five of 189 innings.
Those stats mattered little in the ninth, down 2-1 and apparently ready for their late-summer magic to be done. It was only appropriate Lindor was at the plate – he came into the game batting .370 with a team-high nine home runs in the streak.
He did not disappoint, going the other way off Herrera with a wall-banging double that scored pinch runner Erik Gonzalez with the tying run as a Progressive Field crowd of 30,874 erupted.
And it was only appropriate that MVP candidate Jose Ramirez would lead off the top of the 10th inning against Brandon Maurer. Already 3 for 3 with a walk - pushing his average in the streak to a sublime .414 - Ramirez lashed a pitch into right center field.
Ramirez roared out of the batter’s box and challenged Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain, motoring for second as he slid headfirst for a leadoff double - his AL-best 50th of the season.
After an Edwin Encarnacion walk, it was Bruce’s turn – and he lashed a ball down the right field line. Fireworks erupted. Teammates mobbed Bruce – and the streak lived on.
"I like our chances tomorrow," Bruce deadpanned in a postgame, on-field interview.