2017 Cleveland Indians
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2017 Cleveland Indians / Franchise: Cleveland Indians / BR Team Page
Managed by Terry Francona
History, Comments, Contributions
Fresh off coming this close to winning the 2016 World Series, the 2017 Cleveland Indians headed into the season as one of the strongest teams in the American League on paper, and with a mission to end their championship drought, now the longest in the majors. They did not waste any time indicating they were not to be trifled with, as they began the year by sweeping the Texas Rangers at home. On opening day, April 3rd, they came back from an early 5-1 deficit to score 5 times in the last three innings, winning 8-5, with Edwin Encarnacion providing a key home run in the 8th. The following day, they won 4-3 as Carlos Carrasco made a successful return to the mound after missing the end of the 2016 season, and on April 5th, Francisco Lindor hit a pair of homers including a 9th-inning grand slam in a 9-6 win. Another good piece of news was that LF Michael Brantley had been able to start on opening day after missing almost all of the previous year, countering the absence of 2B Jason Kipnis, who began the season on the disabled list.
In spite of these early fireworks, overall the Indians started the season slowly, hovering around .500 for a couple of months and allowing the Minnesota Twins to take an unexpected early lead in the AL Central. They began to make a move in June and on June 17th, swept a doubleheader from the Twins to take over first place for the first time. In the opening game, 2016 postseason hero Ryan Merritt made his return to the majors, being called up under the 26th man rule, while another youngster who had shined under the big game spotlight, Mike Clevinger, started the second one, although in both games relievers were credited with the win. With a 12-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles on June 19th, thanks to a three-hit shutout by ace Corey Kluber, the Indians extended their winning streak to six games, and also moved to six games above .500 for the first time, at 37-31.
In late June, manager Terry Francona began experiencing light-headedness and a irregular heart beat, twice being hospitalized for short periods. He went back to hospital in early July, but what was supposed to be an overnight visit turned out to be longer, even costing him his participation in the 2017 All-Star Game as the manager of the American League squad. Bench coach and best friend Brad Mills took over as acting manager during his various absences, including at the Mid-Summer Classic. He was back for the team's first game after the break, and the Indians went right back to winning, putting together a nine-game winning streak in late July. It came at an opportune time, as their closest pursuers, the Kansas City Royals, put up a nine-game winning streak of their own at exactly the same time. The Indians suffered a blow in early August as on August 2nd, they had to place two key pitchers, starter Josh Tomlin and set-up man Andrew Miller, on the disabled list. Tomlin was expected to miss six weeks while Miller's problem, tendinitis in his knee, was considered less serious. They were joined on August 8th by All-Star OF Brantley, a move that prompted the Indians to acquire OF Jay Bruce from the New York Mets in a trade.
The Indians played their best baseball of the year starting in the second half of August, when they reeled off 14 straight wins starting on August 24th, pretty much sealing the division title by September 1st as a result. On September 3rd, in an 11-1 win over the Detroit Tigers for win number 11, 3B Jose Ramirez went 5 for 5 with all hit going for extra bases; it gave him a record 14 long hits in his last 7 games. That game also marked Tomlin's return from the disabled list. The 14th win on September 6th tied the franchise record set the previous season and they set a new record the following day when they defeated the Chicago White Sox, 11-2, behind the pitching of Kluber for win #15. Not satisfied, they shut out the Baltimore Orioles, 5-0, on September 8th, behind Clevinger to make it 16 wins in a row, now the longest such streak in the majors in 15 years. Another win the following day put the streak at 17, now in truly historic territory as they were the the second team since 1961 to have pulled off that many, with the 2002 Oakland Athletics, owners of 20 straight wins, their next target. Win #18 came on September 10th, 3-2 over the Orioles in the nationally-televized Sunday Game of the Week. They then proceeded to move within one of the A's number with an 11-0 blowout of the Tigers on September 11th. It was not the only emphatic win on the streak either: the Indians had outscored their opponents by 100 runs (132-32) and had hit more homers (37) than their opponents had scored runs! They tied the AL record in style, behind a five-hit shutout by Kluber and a lead-off homer by Lindor, his 30th of the campaign, putting down Detroit, 2-0, on September 12th. They set a new record the next day by once again defeating the Tigers, 5-3. In that game, the Tigers had managed to take a 1-0 lead against Clevinger in the 1st, but the Indians came right back on a three-run homer by Jay Bruce in the bottom of the frame and nursed that lead until the end. That win also tied the major league record, set by the 1935 Chicago Cubs, and in sight was the 22-game unbeaten streak by the 1880 Chicago White Stockings and 27-game unbeaten streak put together by the 1916 New York Giants, both of which included a tie. On September 14th, they reached 22 wins with one of their more spectacular victories yet: they trailed the Royals, 2-1, in the bottom of the 9th, but with two outs and two strikes and closer Kelvin Herrera on the mound, Lindor drove a ball against the fence, just out of the reach of LF Alex Gordon, for a double scoring pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez from first base with the tying run. Then, in the 10th, after a double by Ramirez and a walk to Encarnacion, Bruce lined a double to the right-field corner for a 3-2 win. The streak finally ended the next day with a 4-3 loss to the Royals.
Another win against the Royals on September 16th, combined with a Twins loss clinched the Indians their second consecutive division title. In fact, the Indians won their first six games after the winning streak ended, maintaining their torrid play as they were now aiming to secure the best record in the majors, to give them home field advantage through the entire postseason. On September 28th, they recorded their 100th win, 5-2 over the Twins, behind Carlos Carrasco's 18th victory of the season. It was only the third 100-win season in team history, the last having come in 1995.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, Andrew Miller and José Ramírez
- AL Cy Young Award: Corey Kluber
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Francisco Lindor (SS) and José Ramírez (3B)
- Ted Berg: "What the Cleveland Indians need to do to win the World Series", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, September 28, 2017. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "'The Streak' captures the Tribe's magical run: Mini-documentary details Cleveland's 22-game winning streak", mlb.com, October 5, 2017. 
- Bob Klapisch: "Why the Indians are the biggest playoff threat in the American League", USA Today Sports, August 30, 2017. 
- Casey L. Moore: "Indians’ epic winning streak: A hero every night as Cleveland wins 19 in a row", USA Today Sports, September 11, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Indians still reliving World Series nightmare, but ready to pen a new ending", USA Today Sports, February 15, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "As Indians aim for 20th straight win, 'Moneyball' hero Scott Hatteberg can't wait to watch", USA Today Sports, September 12, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "As Indians stack wins in record streak, a new label emerges: America's Team", USA Today Sports, September 13, 2017. 
- A.J. Perez: "Is the Indians' winning streak already the greatest in MLB history? Probably", USA Today Sports, September 12, 2017. 
- John Perrotto: "MLB team report: Is Edwin Encarnacion the final Indians piece?", USA Today Sports, February 17, 2017. 
- Kevin Santo: "Cubs, Indians finding out how hard it is to repeat World Series appearances", USA Today Sports, July 6, 2017.