Royals pitching has fueled a nine-game win streak.
Three of the four teams with the longest active win streaks in baseball call the American League Central home, making it the hottest division around.
The Kansas City Royals lead the way with a nine-game streak, followed by the Cleveland Indians at eight straight and the Detroit Tigers with five in a row of their own. The Elias Sports Bureau notes this is the first time the AL Central has ever had two teams with concurrent win streaks of at least eight games.
Thursday night’s 7-2 win over the Twins capped a three-game sweep and marked the first time the Royals reeled off nine consecutive wins since beginning the 2003 season 9-0.
Excellent pitching has fueled this run, as Kansas City pitchers have posted a 1.50 ERA over the streak, allowing just 1.8 runs per game.
In fact, Kansas City has allowed three or fewer runs in each game. Over the past 20 years, the only team to reach double digits with a streak like that was the 2002 Angels, who won 10 in a row (per Elias).
Tonight, the Royals send Wade Davis to the mound to take on the Mets (NL-best 8-2 in interleague play this season) as they try to make it 10 straight wins for the first time since a 1994 14-game streak. It would also match the third-longest win streak in club history.
Davis will look to build off a solid start last time out -- 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox, which came on the heels of a 10.91 ERA over his previous four starts (all losses).
After capping a four-game sweep of the White Sox, the Indians have won eight straight games for the first time since April 2011. Over this stretch, they’ve been powered by walk-off homers from Jason Giambi and Carlos Santana. The offense has combined to bat .307 with a .372 OBP averaging 6.3 runs per game, and the pitching has been excellent with a 2.28 ERA.
Keeping it going will be a challenge tonight as the Indians head to Miami to face Cuban rookie Jose Fernandez, who turned 21 earlier this week. The defector is coming off a career-high 13 strikeouts in eight innings against the Pirates his last start out and has posted a 1.87 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 9.6 K/9 in his last 10 starts since June 1.
For all the streaking the Royals and Indians have done, they haven’t been able to gain much ground in the standings with the Tigers winning nine of 10 and 18 of their last 25.
Games Remaining This Season
The Royals face the toughest remaining schedule of the group by remaining opponents’ combined win percentage (.494), but they will play the most games at home. The Indians have the fewest remaining games against teams currently at or above .500 (22 of 54 games) of the bunch.
If all three teams win tonight, Elias tells us it would be only the second time in history three teams in a single division held concurrent win streaks of at least six games. The only time it happened was in June 1978 in the AL East (Orioles, Red Sox, Brewers).