Nine Straight at Home is Halfway to 20-Year Old Record
Steve Eby | On 11, Jun 2014
The Indians have not lost a game at home since May 18, when Justin Masterson was shelled by the Oakland Athletics to complete a three-game sweep at the hands of baseball’s best team. Since then, the Tribe has swept the division-leading Tigers, the hard-hitting Rockies and the defending World Champion Red Sox to an impressive nine game home win streak.
Polar opposite on the road, the team’s home record has launched them up the standings from a seat in last place. The ballclub is only half way, however, to making club history. The Indians franchise record for consecutive home wins was occurring 20 years ago today, as the 1994 Indians rolled from May 13 until June 25 during their first season in their new ballpark which was then known as Jacobs Field.
Sitting at 14-17 and 2.5 games out of the division lead, the Indians swept the Detroit Tigers to even their record at the start of the streak from May 13-15. They then took the next three games against the Milwaukee Brewers—who were in the American League at the time—to bring the team only 0.5 games out of first place on May 19th. The final game of the series against Milwaukee was an extra inning affair that featured a walk-off, 13th inning homerun by MVP candidate Albert Belle.
After dropping four of six games on a road trip to Toronto and Boston, the Tribe came back home and picked up right where they left off against the Oakland A’s, this time with a walk-off blast from first baseman Paul Sorrento on May 27. The winning ways continued as the Tribe swept Oakland in three games and then took care of the California Angels on May 30 and June 1.
A 10 game trip to the west coast followed, but the Indians came back with a vengeance to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays in three games and the Boston Red Sox in four games from June 13-19 as the young, exciting Tribe took a 3.5 game lead in the division after their come-from-behind 18th straight home win.
The red-hot Indians were dumbfounded as the team had finally come into its own.
“I never thought it was going to be like this,” 22-year old rookie right fielder Manny Ramirez said in an article by Joe Maxse from the Plain Dealer.
“As a baseball player, this is something special,” said outfielder Candy Maldonado. “It’s nice to hear the other players say this doesn’t seem like Cleveland anymore.”
“I haven’t seen anything different since I’ve been up,” rookie closer Paul Shuey said. “We’ve just started to come into it as a team and the fans feel what the team feels. We’re getting there.”
The fans flocked to Jacobs Field, filled with optimism and hope after decades of mediocrity and poor play.
“I’ve experienced this in other parks, but not in our own,” said starter Charles Nagy. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s what the players want. You feel the excitement.”
“The fans are everything,” third baseman Jim Thome added. “We’re winning and they’ve shown a lot of support. It’s a key for us. It’s definitely the best part of the day.”
The long streak ended in bizarre fashion the following weekend, as the New York Yankees put a halt to the run in a strange, rain-delayed game that started on Friday June 24 and was completed on Saturday June 25. The game took more than seven hours of baseball and rain delays between the two days to end the most successful stretch of home-baseball in Cleveland’s history.
“It took so long to get one win,” Yankees’ leadoff hitter Luis Polonia said. “It didn’t look like this game was going to end. They keep fighting. I would like to have a nice day and play to see what’s going on between the teams. It would be real interesting.”
The Yankees finished the strike-shortened season in first place in the AL East, while the Indians were just one game behind the White Sox when the season was stopped in August. The season, postseason and World Series were officially cancelled in mid-September, but the team’s streak at Jacobs Field gave incredible optimism for the future of baseball in Cleveland.
“To have the streak end wasn’t a big deal,” Manager Mike Hargrove said. “It’s neat to set a franchise record for winning games in a row at home, but we can’t lose sight of trying to win the division and let this become all-consuming.”
The Indians finished the 1994 season with an incredible 35-16 record at Jacobs Field, which is an outstanding .686 winning percentage. By comparison, the current squad boasts a 21-11 record through the first 32 home games; good enough for an also-impressive .656 winning percentage. If the 2014 Indians can match the 1994 team’s run, their streak would run through July 5th and run their winning percentage at home to an incredible .732. To do so, the Indians would need to sweep through the now-called Los Angeles Angels, the Tigers and the Kansas City Royals. Ironically, if the team betters their mark of 18 in a row by winning 19 straight, the Yankees would come to town on July 7 to try and snap the streak again.
Of course it’s a long way off, but the incredible home journey starts back up again next Monday.