CLEVELAND -- The end goal was not achieved. After coming one victory short of a World Series triumph a year ago, the Indians envisioned a championship parade up East 9th Street at the conclusion of this campaign. The Tribe fell short of that dream, providing a sour end to what
CLEVELAND -- The end goal was not achieved. After coming one victory short of a World Series triumph a year ago, the Indians envisioned a championship parade up East 9th Street at the conclusion of this campaign. The Tribe fell short of that dream, providing a sour end to what had been a scintillating season.
The Indians' loss to the Yankees in the American League Division Series will always be what defines the 2017 season for the franchise, but there were plenty of accomplishments that should not be forgotton. Cleveland had five All-Stars, cruised to a second consecutive American League Central Division crown, won 102 games and, during one magical run, pieced together an AL-record 22-game winning streak.
"There were a lot of things that happened this year that were a lot of fun," Indians relief ace Andrew Miller said after his team's final loss. "I think things we'll remember, what this team accomplished, are going to mean a lot down the road. But, right now, we just want to keep playing. We'd love to win a World Series and do a parade through Cleveland."
Indians fans will wait 'til next year once again. In the meantime, here are five storylines to savor from Cleveland's season:
When the Indians struck for seven runs against Red Sox ace Chris Sale on Aug. 24, they had no idea what kind of run they had initiated. Cleveland did not lose again until Sept. 15 and ended the regular season with 33 wins in 37 games. The Tribe's 22-game streak was the longest in baseball history since the 1916 New York Giants had a 26-game winning streak. During the run, the Indians registered a plus-105 run differential, had more home runs (41) than runs allowed (37) and trailed in only eight of 199 innings. The rotation went 19-0 with a 1.77 ERA during the streak and the offense scored first in 19 of the 22 games.
The 22nd win was the lone walk-off during the streak. On Sept. 14, Jay Bruce delivered a game-winning single in the 10th inning to beat the Royals, 3-2, for the record-setting victory.
After a rough three-inning outing on May 2, Indians ace Corey Kluber struggled to stand straight due to a lower-back injury that had plagued him for the first five weeks. The injury sent Kluber to the disabled list for a month, and the right-hander returned with a vengeance. Kluber came back on June 1 and went 15-2 with a 1.62 ERA in 23 starts the rest of the way, ending the season 18-4 with 265 strikeouts, 36 walks and a Major League-leading 2.25 ERA in 203 2/3 innings.
In the process, Kluber became the first Indians pitcher since 1949 (Mike Garcia) to pace baseball in ERA. From June 14-July 4, Kluber set a franchise record with 10 or more strikeouts in five consecutive starts. The previous mark of four had held since 1939 (Bob Feller). Kluber also joined Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers in MLB history to record at least eight strikeouts in 14 or more starts in a row.
Yes way, Jose
Jose Ramirez enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2016 and proved it was no fluke with another dynamic showing this year. Ramirez started at third base for the AL All-Stars, making him the first player voted in as a starter for Cleveland since 2001 (Juan Gonzalez). The switch-hitter led baseball with 56 doubles, the third-highest single-season total in franchise history and the most since George Burns set the club mark with 64 in 1926. Ramirez's 91 extra-base hits were the second-most in MLB history by a switch-hitter (Lance Berkman, 94, 2001).
From June 14-19, Ramirez became the only player in the Modern Era with at least 14 extra-base hits in a seven-game span. He also had a nine-game multi-hit streak from June 14-21, doubled in a club-record seven straight games from June 14-19, and equaled an MLB record with five extra-base hits in a game (Sept. 3 at Detroit).
Like Ramirez, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor posted the type of offensive season that could garner some top-five consideration in the AL Most Valuable Player balloting. Lindor set career highs in home runs (33) and OPS (.842), and established single-season club records for a shortstop in homers and extra-base hits (81). Lindor also surpassed Joe Gordon's 1948 franchise record for homers by a middle infielder (32).
Lindor was at his best in critical moments, as well. On April 5, Lindor launched two homers, including a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth to help beat Texas. During the 22nd win in Cleveland's streak, Lindor delivered a two-strike, two-out double to tie the game in the ninth inning, setting up Bruce's walk-off an inning later. In the sixth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS, the shortstop also belted a grand slam that sparked an incredible comeback win.
The Fenway flip
With apologies to the incredible diving grabs by center fielder Bradley Zimmer, or the quick thinking of third baseman Giovanny Urshela, it was Austin Jackson who provided one of baseball's defensive plays of the year.
On Aug. 1 in Boston, Jackson was in center when Hanley Ramirez drilled a pitch from Dan Otero toward the Red Sox bullpen. Jackson raced to his left, jumped, made the catch and flipped over the short center-field wall. Jackson went completely upside down on the play, but kept control of the baseball as he used his free hand to grab the padding, while flipping to his feet. Ramirez's eyes went wide after the catch and the Fenway faithful offered Jackson a standing ovation, even though his grab robbed Boston of a home run.
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.