The Unsung Heroes of This 12-Game Winning Streak

Updated: September 5, 2017

The Indians have won 12 games in a row and have a commanding 10-game lead in the AL Central Division over the Minnesota Twins. Their record stands at 81-56 with another central division crown within their grasps.

Obviously, it’s been the powerhouse players such as ace Corey Kluber, star shortstop Francisco Lindor, extra-base hit machine Jose Ramirez and slugger Edwin Encarnacion that have allowed this team to go on its run of domination. However, it takes a team effort to win and here is some appreciation to the guys on this team that don’t carry much of the star power but still help the cause.

Any great baseball team has a great defense behind its pitcher. The Indians are the second-best defensive team in the league and it’s very noticeable out on the field. One guy that has gotten an opportunity to play at the hot corner is Giovanni Urshela. While he still needs some work at the plate, although he is improving every game, that glove and arm make it nearly impossible for any hitter to rope one by him.

Between Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, stealing a base on the Tribe isn’t an easy task. Gomes is third in the league at throwing out runners at 44.2%. Gunning out a baserunner is a great way to kill a rally and also pick up the pitcher for allowing the runner to reach base in the first place. Perez has also become the king of hitting with two outs and runners on base, despite his low average. He’s up to 32 RBI on the season. Someway, somehow, he gets it done when it counts most.

On the offensive side of the ball, a young kid I really like is Yandy Diaz. In his last 20 at-bats, he’s hitting .350 and has five RBI. It’s clear that he’s starting to adjust to the major league level and could become a force down the road.

A starting pitcher that has really progressed this season is Mike Clevinger. In his last three starts, the Tribe has won the game. He has back-to-back starts of going six innings and in those combined 12 innings he’s allowed only seven hits and no runs. Talk about locked in.

While Trevor Bauer is a common name for Indians fans, he has completely turned around his season.  In his last 10 starts, the Indians have won eight times. He has 15 wins, which is tied for fourth in the major leagues. He even has one more win than Corey Kluber. Bauer has been absolutely locked in. In May, he allowed 22 total runs. Fast forward to August+September and it’s down to 12. The Indians will need Bauer for the postseason, so this turnaround is huge.

I am also a big fan of left-handed reliever Tyler Olson. In 10.2 innings of relief, he has given up no runs. It’s great to have another southpaw in the pen with Andrew Miller on the disabled list.

Finally, youngsters like Greg Allen and Francisco Mejia are getting their first taste of the big leagues. While they won’t be on the playoff roster, expect to see them in uniform in the coming years. So far, they look pretty comfortable against major league pitching.

When you think about it, baseball isn’t like basketball where a star like LeBron James can totally take over a game and will a team to victory by himself. It’s a team effort and one that requires excellence from everyone on the roster. You never know when you’re going to be up with the bases loaded or a sharp grounder is coming your way. Some games, the action may feature teammates, whereas others may be all about you.

Staying ready is a huge key in baseball. Clearly, these guys, not stars by any means, have stayed ready and are helping the Indians win baseball games. 12 in a row to be exact. If this team keeps up this amount of focus, they’re going to take this division easily and cruise to the playoffs, where nothing short of a World Series win will be satisfying.

Follow the author: @ShafOnSports

Photos: ESPN


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