CLEVELAND -- After Francisco Lindor struck out, bringing an end to the Indians' incredible and historic winning streak, the Cleveland crowd rose to its feet and roared. Rare is the defeat that is followed with a standing ovation, but the fans in attendance understood the magnitude of this moment.
In the immediate wake of Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Royals, the moment was not lost on the Indians, either. Manager Terry Francona walked up the dugout steps and waved his hat to the crowd. Cleveland's players and coaches also stepped onto the field, clapping for the fans who created an October-like energy on these recent September nights, while their Tribe ran off an American League-record 22 consecutive wins.
"That was pretty cool," Indians reliever Joe Smith said. "Everybody had a part in it. For the crowd to acknowledge that, that's a class act on Cleveland's part."
The Streak will forever go down in Indians lore, but this was also a run that was historic on an even grander scale. Cleveland's 22-game run eclipsed the previous mark of 20, which was set by the A's and made famous by the book and movie, "Moneyball." The streak also surpassed the previous second-longest Major League run of 21 games by the 1935 Cubs. That will not remove the sting of last season's World Series loss to Chicago, but it is bragging rights for Tribe fans.
The Indians' streak was amazing, incredible, unfathomable and fitting of just about any other superlative out there.
After the loss, music blared from the Indians' clubhouse, just as it does after wins.
"We haven't lost a game in three weeks," said Tribe outfielder Jay Bruce, who was the walk-off hero for win No. 22 on Thursday night. "We played a good game. It wasn't like we got just blown out or anything. I think [it was important] to have a bit of a light-hearted attitude about it all, and not take it too hard, obviously, because we're in a great position."
Prior to the fight put up by the Royals these past two nights, Cleveland really had not been tested during its record run.
During the 22-game streak, the Indians' pitching staff turned in a 1.58 ERA and the offense posted a .937 OPS. Cleveland had a plus-105 run differential in that span with an average score of 6.8 to 1.7. The Tribe had more home runs hit (41) than total runs allowed (37). The rotation went 19-0 with a 1.77 ERA and the bullpen had a 1.17 ERA. The Indians outscored their opponents, 69-14, in the first three innings combined.
Thanks to its run, Cleveland's magic number to clinch the AL Central is down to two.
There are many mind-bending statistics from The Streak, but one of the best nuggets is the fact that Cleveland only trailed after eight of the 199 innings in those 22 games. Four of those came Thursday, when the Indians pulled off the walk-off win. On Friday, Cleveland trailed at the end of four innings again, but that included the ninth, resulting in the club's first trip to the loss column since Aug. 23.
"We hadn't been behind in any of the games for very long at all," Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer said. "Up to last night, everything was pretty smooth sailing. That was a [heck] of a run."
Fans showed their appreciation by pouring through the stadium's gates and helping SportsTime Ohio post its highest-rated Indians game ever (Thursday). When the crowd cheered for the streak, rather than get consumed in the loss, the Indians wanted to show their appreciation, too.
"The atmosphere around here is incredible," Francona said. "We don't take it for granted."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.