CLEVELAND -- The Indians may not be swept up in their historic winning streak, but the significance of this moment is not lost on the players inside Cleveland's clubhouse.
With their 2-0 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night, a win powered by a complete-game gem from ace Corey Kluber, the Indians won their 20th game in a row. That moved the Tribe into a tie with the 2002 A's for the longest run of consecutive wins in American League history.
"It's something special," Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said. "It's going to be there forever."
Next up for the Indians are the 1935 Cubs, who won 21 consecutive games. The Major League record is 26 straight wins, achieved by the 1916 Giants, from Sept. 7- Sept. 30 of that year. That stretch included a rained out game against Pittsburgh -- the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 18 -- that would have been the 13th game in the streak, but was called after eight innings with the score 1-1. Those eight innings were not reflected in the standings, but the players' statistics counted. Under current rules, that game would have been suspended and resumed from the point it was halted. In 1916, rules dictated that any game interrupted in that fashion would be replayed from scratch if schedules permitted.
The Pirates and Giants played a scheduled doubleheader on Sept. 19 and New York won both games.
Kluber was 16 years old when the A's completed their 20-game streak, which was made even more famous by the "Moneyball" book and movie. Cleveland's ace can recall that streak's signature moment: Scott Hatteberg's pinch-hit, walk-off homer against the Royals to seal win No. 20.
"I definitely remember when Hatteberg hit the home run," Kluber said. "I don't remember game by game, but I do remember that."
Kluber also recalls thinking how amazing that streak was 15 years ago.
"It's pretty crazy to think about," he said, "just because you play so many games in so many days over such long stretches and stuff. To go almost three weeks without losing a game is not something that you ever really expect."
Kluber was on the mound the last time Cleveland lost -- back on Aug. 23 against the Red Sox. During the Tribe's incredible 20-game run, the ace and his rotation counterparts have powered the streak with overwhelming pitching. The starting staff has gone a combined 18-0 with a 1.71 ERA during the winning streak.
Cleveland now has seven shutouts within this streak and an MLB-leading 19 shutouts on the season (the most in a year by the Indians since 1968). In the latest, which represented Kluber's sixth career shutout (and third this season), the right-hander struck out eight, scattered five hits and walked none en route to his 16th win of the season.
Indians manager Terry Francona continued to downplay the winning streak, as he has throughout his team's historic stretch.
"I don't look at it like everything is on the line," Francona said of the streak. "We just showed up to win. I thought tonight was a fun game to be a part of."
Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd did his part in trying to halt Cleveland's momentum, piling up a career-high 116 pitches and limiting the Indians to one run in his five frames. In five career appearances against the Indians, Boyd has turned in a tidy 1.91 ERA in 28 1/3 innings, but one mistake was enough on this night.
"He was a few pitches better than me," Boyd said of Kluber.
Boyd's lone setback came in the form of a leadoff homer from Lindor in the first inning, giving Kluber the support he'd need for his latest gem. The Indians tacked on a run in the sixth, when Carlos Santana doubled and eventually crossed the plate on a wild pitch from reliever Drew VerHagen.
With the win, the AL Central-leading Indians are within four games of the Dodgers for baseball's best record. Cleveland also saw its magic number to clinch its second straight division crown trimmed to five.
"We're one of five or six teams that they've beaten and swept," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I just want to win. I don't care if the team's won 20 in a row or lost 20 in a row. I just want to win. There's no other way around it. They've been on a great run, I give them all the credit in the world.
"They're probably the best team in baseball, certainly right now they are. But I don't want to stop them because they're on some streak. I want to stop them because I want to win a baseball game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED No. 30 for Lindor: For the 19th time in the past 20 games, the Indians struck first, and it was a familiar hero who delivered in the first inning. Lindor ended an eight-pitch battle vs. Boyd with a leadoff home run, giving the Indians shortstop 30 shots on the season. That put Lindor into a tie with Jimmy Rollins (2007) and Jose Valentin ('04) for the most homers in a season by a switch-hitting shortstop in baseball history.
"Remember when you guys would ask me [about Lindor]?" Francona said. "And I'd say, 'We don't know [how good he'll become], but it's going to be fun to watch.' And it has been. He's growing into a guy that is able to use the whole ballpark and hit for average, but also drive the ball out of the ballpark and play the defense." More >
Kluber escapes: Scoring chances against Kluber have been few and far between for teams this season, but Detroit had an opportunistic situation right away. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a double slashed down the right-field line and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Alex Presley. Unfazed, Kluber struck out Miguel Cabrera looking with a borderline, backdoor sinker, and then fanned Nicholas Castellanos swinging to end the threat.
"You're trying to score first. We just couldn't get it done," Kinsler said. "And Corey obviously went on to throw a great game after that. You never really expect a first-inning home run like Lindor hit, or a first-inning missed chance like we had, to decide the game. But when you have a guy who throws the ball as well as Corey, it did tonight. That's the story."
"We haven't talked about it at all. I haven't heard anybody in there talking about how many games in a row we've won or anything like that. Obviously we're aware of it, just because of the attention that it gets, but it's not something that we're focusing on." -- Kluber
"Am I focused on it? Not really. Are we focusing on it around here? Not really. You don't see guys talking about it. You don't see guys sitting in the lunch room, saying, 'Oh, my God, we have a chance of winning 20. We have a chance of winning 21.' Not really. We're just enjoying the ride, understanding that we're on a high right now and having fun. We'll see what happens." -- Lindor
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Lindor joins Hal Trosky (42 in 1936 in age-23 season; 35 in '34 in age-21 season) and Manny Ramirez (31 in '95 in age-23 season) as the only players 23 years old or younger in Indians history with 30-plus homers in a season.
• The Indians have trailed in only four of 180 innings during the 20-game streak.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Right-hander Buck Farmer (4-2, 6.32) has a lunch date with the dangerous Cleveland lineup as the Tigers and Indians wrap up their three-game series with a 12:10 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field on Wednesday. Farmer is 0-3 with an 8.50 ERA against Cleveland in five career outings, three of them starts.
Indians: Right-hander Mike Clevinger (9-5, 3.30 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe. Clevinger has allowed just one earned run in 18 innings against Detroit this season and has logged six shutout frames in each of his past three starts.