CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The Cleveland Indians clubhouse is filling up, and not every addition to the mix is a September call up.
The national media members have appeared at an increasing rate at Progressive Field as the team has taken another step towards history, and with their 18th consecutive win on Sunday night, that number will increase until that streak is snapped.
The defending American League Champions, full of young talent, remember those more recognizable faces trickling through their clubhouse as they moved along further in the playoffs a year ago. They also remember their similar streak from earlier that season.
Each of those periods were different from the current run, but in a similar way to each other. The book had not been written. The collective authors did not yet know how far their imaginations could stretch.
Fast forward to a year later, with volume two of the current group’s Octobers With Tito in its prelude, the Indians are without writer’s block. Free and easy with no pressure, no question of where they can go, the pen flowing without knowing its destination.
“Honestly, like, that’s been the most impressive thing about the streak to me, is that like you come to the field and it doesn’t feel like we have a winning streak going,” Sunday’s starter, Trevor Bauer said, after picking up his 16th win of the year.
Somehow, the absence of acknowledging the streak has gone from an approach to the streak to one of the key subject matters within it. An idea put into place by a future Hall of Fame manager that has taken on a life of its own, which has manifested itself by way of a perfect run at an imperfect time.
Yet without their then-franchise record mark in 2016, its better rendition may never have been written.
Bauer acknowledged that their first run at stringing more wins together than any team in franchise history came with pressure. Pressure that mounted, resulting in a historical mark, but also resulted in dropping six-of-nine that followed.
At that time, the Indians believed they were a team capable of making a playoff push and a deep run in the postseason, but they had not seen it happen with the current core. Something that, in comparison to their previous stretch, has been relieved thanks to what happened thereafter.
“I think a lot of it—there was a lot of like proving to ourselves and proving to other people that we’re really good. This year, we know we’re really good,” Bauer added. “Everyone’s just relaxed and it doesn’t feel like there’s any pressure to continue winning. Just go out there and play. Everyone’s playing at a high level and so the results are what they are.”
Armed with the notion that they are capable of playing as well as any team in the game, the Indians have settled into Terry Francona’s mantra of ‘play the game in front of you.’ Though Bauer admitted the idea of what the team could accomplish allowed them to play without intensity – and subsequently be hurt by it – the sentiment has allowed them to eliminate distractions.
Like the streak, perhaps.
With a 13-game divisional lead and no distractions in front of them, there is a zen in the Tribe locker room.
“Everything is just flowing,” Bauer said. “When you look at it like performance, people talk about being in the zone and that’s what it is. It’s a lack of conscious thought about anything. Just flowing with the game and I feel like that’s what we’re doing as a team right now.”
There is no guarantee that improving upon a winning streak from one year to the next will secure that 11th and final win in the Fall.
The Indians are just trying to make peace with a sequel that is better than the original.