What we learned from the Guardians' 9-game winning streak

May 28th, 2024

DENVER -- All good things must come to an end. And after an exhilarating stretch of nine straight victories, the Guardians now have to restart their winning streak following their 8-6 loss to the Rockies on Monday at Coors Field.

This was the longest winning streak Cleveland has enjoyed since its magical 22-win run in 2017. If the club would have notched one more victory, Stephen Vogt would have been the first manager to have a 10-plus-game winning streak in his first year since Alex Cora in 2018. But it wasn’t meant to be.

It came down to the final out after the Guardians chipped away at their four-run deficit from the seventh inning on. José Ramírez came to the plate with one out in the ninth inning and a runner on first with his team down by two, but the Cleveland superstar struck out before Josh Naylor popped out to end the game.

“I mean, we’re still having fun,” Vogt said. “We got our two best hitters up to be the tying runs even in our first loss. It was a really fun nine-day stretch and we’re hoping to start another one tomorrow.”

The winning streak may be over, but it certainly opened a lot of people’s eyes to the potential the Guardians have this season, as they soared up MLB.com’s Power Rankings. Here are five of the things we learned over the last nine games.

José is still José
For a few minutes (maybe even seconds) there was a concern about the slow start Ramírez had gotten off to. But the third baseman quickly made us all feel foolish as he heated up in May, climbing the MLB RBI leaderboards.

With his two RBIs on Monday, Ramírez has now knocked in at least one run in six consecutive games and his total for the month is up to 30. The last Cleveland player to have at least 29 RBIs in a month was Edwin Encarnación in September 2017. Ramírez has three more games to eclipse 30. The last Clevelander to have 30 RBIs in a month was Travis Hafner in August 2006.

All-Star Giménez is still in there
It’s hard to know just how sustainable this offense is simply because it didn’t see this level of success last year. But one thing that’s clear is that having Andrés Giménez's bat look like it did in his All-Star season in 2022 would only increase their chances of continuing this success.

Giménez had a down year last year. He still didn’t look like his ‘22 self in the first month this year. But in his previous 13 games entering Monday, he had slashed .353/.404/.549 with 13 RBI. He raised his season average from .241 to .270 in that span. He went 1-for-5 in the loss, dropping his average down to .269, but the Guardians can hope he’ll keep the hot streak going.

The bullpen isn’t a fluke
There isn’t much to say here because we’ve talked about this all season long. But if there was any concern that the Guardians’ bullpen was just having a lucky stretch to start the year, it now seems like this is their identity. Even though Scott Barlow gave up one run on Monday, the ‘pen’s MLB leading ERA still decreases from 2.55 to 2.54.

Fry is the real deal
may not start every game, but his dominance and reliability have continued throughout this stretch. At this point, it doesn’t seem like a fluke. He entered the day with a .458 average and nine RBIs in his last 10 games. His 1.452 OPS against southpaws was the best in the Majors (min. 50 plate appearances against lefties). That was before he picked up another RBI single against lefty Josh Rogers on Monday.

The Guardians can survive without their best hitters
Having Fry and Ramírez was crucial during this stretch, but doing so with a slumping Josh Naylor and an injured Steven Kwan may have been the most impressive part. What’s made this team so successful is that it’s been a team effort.

Entering Monday, the Guardians ranked among the best in the Majors with runners in scoring position: .391 on-base percentage (first in MLB), .298 average (second), 46 extra-base hits (tied for second) and 17 homers (fourth). Cleveland added another three hits in 12 at-bats (.333 average) with runners in scoring position against Denver.

“Even after losing today, we’re still dangerous,” Guardians center fielder Tyler Freeman said. “We had a little win streak going on. Now we’re gonna start a new one.”