CLEVELAND -- The Indians, you might have heard, have won 21 consecutive baseball games -- the most recent a 5-3 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon in a game sealed by a diving Lonnie Chisenhall catch, a postseason-worthy roar from the 29,346 in attendance and goosebumps
CLEVELAND -- The Indians, you might have heard, have won 21 consecutive baseball games -- the most recent a 5-3 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon in a game sealed by a diving Lonnie Chisenhall catch, a postseason-worthy roar from the 29,346 in attendance and goosebumps from anybody with a sporting soul.
This is the longest win streak in the 116-year history of the American League. It is tied for the second-longest win streak of all-time. It is the most consecutive games any team has won in 82 years. It is a baseball streak that is very much anti-baseball, because it counters everything we know about the humbling nature of a game played just about every day, a game in which "momentum is the next day's starter" and "Hall of Famers fail seven out of 10 times" and all those other truisms you've heard time and again.
In many respects, the 2017 Cleveland Indians have broken baseball, with a day-by-day dismantling of the opposition that has somehow avoided not just deserved defeat but even accidental adversity.
"It makes you feel," outfielder Jay Bruce said, searching for the word, "alive."
Alive, yes. Not arrogant, because the Indians, keeping with the tone set by their trusted skipper Terry Francona, have done a textbook job of giving the increasingly prevalent local and national media members -- or even their opponents -- very little to work with in terms of genuine reaction to their record.
But alive? That's a good word for it.
We are at the point in the campaign where added life is breathed into many a market eyeing an October entry. But here at the home of the defending AL champs, The Streak (in Cleveland sporting lore, it is important we capitalize not just the heartbreaking standalone sequences, but also the occasional heroic ones) has added energy to the inexorable galumph toward an AL Central title (with so much Streak talk, it's almost easy to forget the Tribe could clinch as soon as Friday) and provided a preview of the October atmosphere.
What's amazing about The Streak -- beyond the obvious -- is just how effortless it has all appeared.
Wednesday's win was just the seventh of the 21 decided by one or two runs and just the second in which the opponent scored first. It provided nine more innings that didn't end with the Indians trailing (they've trailed at the end of just four of the 189 total innings played during The Streak). And the one moment in which the Indians did trail was broken up by a Bruce home run -- one of 41 hit by Tribe batters in the midst of a stretch in which their pitchers have allowed just 35 runs total.
Statistically speaking, there has never been a streak like this, not even the 26 games completed by the 1916 Giants, whose residence in the record books has been the subject of a deeper delve during the Indians' unstoppable surge.
Bruce is an honest guy, and so he was asked if there has been a moment of legitimate tension during this record run. His answer was actually surprising.
"Every final inning," he said.
To the outside observer, this seems odd, because the Indians have had three times as many wins of five runs or more (nine) as they have one-run wins (three) during The Streak.
But Bruce's answer spoke to the bigger-picture point here, which is that The Streak has only been achievable because of the way the Indians have not taken innings or at-bats for granted. Particularly, there's something underrated and very pure about the general spotlessness of their defensive effort, which has been sparked in large part by the great glovework Giovanny Urshela has provided with Jason Kipnis on the shelf. OK, maybe third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh shouldn't have sent the slow-footed Carlos Santana in an ill-fated advance from third to home in the eighth Wednesday, but mental and physical errors have been largely absent.
"When you do things and you do them the right way," said Francona, "it means more than when you're not going out of your way to [do them]. Our guys are playing the game to win, the right way. That part's very meaningful."
When you catch it cleanly, pitch to your strengths and -- oh yeah -- rip the cover off the ball, even the absurdity of 1916 seems within reach. But whether or not the Indians reach it, they've clearly accomplished something special, something that those in the audience can brag about witnessing and those between the lines can feel proud for accomplishing.
Sure, you've got the hot-take artists insisting the Indians are "peaking too early," as if the baseball gods only dole out so many good vibes per calendar year, and October's not a total crapshoot, anyway.
But that's all part of the process of doing something so outrageous and contagious. Something that, when you're in it or around it, makes you feel alive.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.