CLEVELAND -- When it was over, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas turned and tipped his cap to the Tribe dugout, the 34,025 in attendance at Progressive Field rose to their feet and applauded the home club and the members of said club strolled out of the dugout, turned to the
CLEVELAND -- When it was over, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas turned and tipped his cap to the Tribe dugout, the 34,025 in attendance at Progressive Field rose to their feet and applauded the home club and the members of said club strolled out of the dugout, turned to the audience and applauded them right back.
The Streak, as it forever shall be known in local baseball lore, ended Friday night with a 4-3 loss. The Indians' American League record stretch of 22 straight wins came so inconceivably close to the all-time mark of 26 set by the 1916 New York Giants and, given the context of the respective eras, was arguably the most impressive run of regular-season baseball the sport has ever seen.
"I still can't believe we lost," reliever Joe Smith said in the aftermath.
The Indians can now turn their focus to their upcoming American League Central clincher (their magic number is down to two) and the challenge of ending the game's longest World Series championship drought at 69 years.
• DYK: Final facts from Tribe's 22-game streak
But before they do, let's salute The Streak one last time. If we can have monthly awards and awards for best-of-seven postseason series, surely we can honor this four-week stretch of baseball brilliance with some imaginary hardware. Ladies and gentlemen ... The Streakies!
Best Hitter and Most Valuable Player:Jose Ramirez
Tough call here, because Francisco Lindor really sprung to life during The Streak (.360/.427/.767 slash with nine homers). His leadoff production was a huge reason the Indians were able to ambush teams so consistently in this stretch.
But Ramirez slashed -- and this is not a misprint -- ..423/.462/.944. You got that? He had a .944 slugging percentage! To put that in perspective, 81 percent of qualified hitters during this timeframe had a lower OPS than Ramirez's SLG.
Because of a sore wrist, Ramirez only played 18 games to Lindor's 21, and, despite batting leadoff, Lindor had 20 RBIs to Ramirez's 14. But when in the lineup, Ramirez, a clear American League MVP and Best Major Leaguer candidate for the MLB Awards, was the extra-base-compiling, helmet-losing igniter he's been all year. His double set up the walkoff in Win No. 22 and, as The Streak ended Friday night, he tried valiantly to keep it alive, drilling a pitch at shoulder-height over the left-field wall for a two-run blast.
Best Starting Pitcher:Mike Clevinger
Corey Kluber is this club's AL Cy Young candidate and perhaps even the favorite in part because The Streak started with the Indians shelling Chris Sale for seven runs in three innings. He went 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and .170 average against with 35 strikeouts against two walks in 32 innings. Carlos Carrasco outdueled even The Klubot during this stretch, going 3-0 with a 0.62, 0.62 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and a .210 average against and 34 strikeouts against just one walk in 29 innings.
But the revelation in the run was the long-haired Clevinger, who came through with a 4-0 record, 0.38 ERA, .186 average against with 28 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. You could go with any of these guys for this Streakie, but Clevinger is representative of how a run like this doesn't happen without unheralded players rising to the occasion.
Best Relief Pitcher:Cody Allen
Shoutout to right-hander Dan Otero and lefty Tyler Olson, who both stepped into more prominent setup roles with Andrew Miller on the shelf for all but one game of The Streak. Neither allowed a run in a combined 12 1/3 innings.
But it was the closer Allen whose untouchability was the true back-end signature of The Streak. Allen worked 11 scoreless innings in 11 games of the 22-game run, notched two wins and six saves by allowing just six hits with three walks and 14 strikeouts. Dominant.
Best Defensive Player:Giovanny Urshela
When Jason Kipnis returns from the disabled list on Sunday, he will do so in center field, not second base. Life sneaks up on you fast when the entire complexion of the infield defense changes in your absence. Ramirez took over for Kipnis at second, and the young Urshela and rookie Yandy Diaz both provided some great glovework at the hot corner.
Urshela played in each and every one of the first 21 wins of The Streak, primarily as a defensive replacement, making him something of an unsung hero. But this terrific diving stop and throw to get a force in the AL record-setting 21st straight win was easily one of the best defensive gems of the run and an indication of how valuable his glove was as the Indians protected their leads.
Best Moment: Lindor's game-tying double in No. 22
This could qualify as blasphemy, but, having been at both games, I can say without hesitation that the pure, unadulterated elation that broke out at Progressive Field when Lindor doubled off the wall to bring home the tying run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth in win No. 22 on Thursday was a close -- not exact, of course, but close -- approximation of the reacion to David Freese's Game 6 triple in 2011.
We're talking stadium-shaking. And that kind of stuff just does not happen on Sept. 14.
Best Social Media Post: @Indians
The Streak brought out the best in baseball Twitter, but obviously we've got to throw some love specifically to the Tribe's official account, which unsurprisingly put together a performance worthy of The Streak. Though reviewing funny tweets is as subjective as evaluating any art form, this one was strong to quite strong ... even though No. 23 didn't happen. This is the insatiable nature of streaking put to picture. It's hard to be content with one number when there's always a more attractive one looming right around the corner.
Best Individual Performance, Hitting: Ramirez on Sept. 3
Ramirez again. In win No. 11, he became just the 13th player in history to rip off five extra-base hits -- two homers and three doubles -- in an 11-1 win over the Tigers. He had some humorous help with both homers, as left fielder Michael Mahtook accidentally swatted one ball over the wall with his bare hand and another bounced off Alex Presley's glove. Whatever works.
Best Individual Performance, Pitching: Kluber on Sept. 12
We denied him the Best Pitcher Streakie, but you've got to go with Kluber for Best Performance for his complete-game shutout of the Tigers in the AL-record-tying 20th win on Tuesday. Kluber struck out eight, walked none and gave up five hits.
That was Kluber's Major League-high (tied with the Twins' Ervin Santana) third shutout of the season, and it was especially impressive given the historical ramifications of that 2-0 win.
Best Manager: Terry Francona
Well, yeah, duh. But it just feels important to point out that this ridiculous run began just seven weeks after Tito underwent a cardiac ablation procedure. Not even John McGraw can say that.
Biggest Bummer:Bradley Zimmer's injury
No, it wasn't all wine and roses. In keeping with a season theme, the outfield came out of The Streak with a bunch of battered bodies. The biggest bummer was the broken left hand bone suffered by center fielder Zimmer in No. 18 on Sunday -- an injury that has clear postseason ramifications for this club. In the immediate, it ushers in that "Kipnis in center field" experiment, which ought to be interesting, and even though Zimmer had been struggling at the plate in recent weeks, it hurts the club's speed and defense profile.
Zimmer is expected to miss six to eight weeks (so, the rest of the season), though the Indians aren't ruling out a quicker-than-anticipated recovery.
Best Stat: 1.11 -- the ratio of home runs hit to runs allowed
Oh my. There were so many notorious numbers in The Streak.
The Indians trailed at the end of just eight of the 199 innings. Their .937 team OPS was 54 points higher than the next-best team OPS (the Twins). Their 1.58 ERA was 1.15 points better than the next-best team ERA (D-backs). They had nine wins of five runs or more against just four of one run. They posted a plus-105 run differential (142-37) -- better than that of all but six teams for the entirety of the 2017 season. They turned a 4 1/2-game lead on the Twins in the AL Central into a 13 1/2-game lead, and they turned a 7 1/2-game deficit to the Astros in the race for the AL's No. 1 postseason seed into a 2 1/2-game lead. And because their Streak coincided with the Dodgers' equally incredible slump, they turned a 20-game hole in the race for the best record in baseball into just a 3 1/2-game deficit. The Indians won more games in this Streak than two of their division opponents -- the White Sox and Tigers -- have won in the second half!
But nothing spoke to the utter dominance of the run quite like the Indians going deep more times (41) than their opponent crossed the plate (37). This Streak was unlike anything the game had ever seen. It was definitely award-worthy.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.