As the regular season begins to wind down in MLB, teams begin to dig in for that final push. September call-ups are summoned, divisions are clinched and playoff rosters are set as teams prepare for the uncertainty and excitement of the postseason, all chasing the common goal of hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy.
The Los Angeles Dodgers spent much of the summer demolishing the National League. On the morning of Aug. 25, they had a record of 91 wins and 36 losses, tying the 2001 Seattle Mariners for the best record through 127 games. Talk surrounding the team started to revolve around whether it was the best team ever and if it could break the Mariners' 116-game record for most regular season wins. That is when the tables turned for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers proceeded to lose their next 11 consecutive games, including back-to-back sweeps at the hands of their division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and an embarrassing series loss to the woeful San Diego Padres.
Desperate for a win, Los Angeles sent Clayton Kershaw to the mound on Sept. 12 to face the San Francisco Giants. Kershaw smothered San Francisco for six innings, allowing only one run and striking out six. The Dodgers' offense finally provided some run support as second baseman Chase Utley hit a fourth-inning home run that broke a 1-1 tie and outfielder Yasiel Puig later hit a go-ahead two-run double that put the Dodgers in front for good in a 5-3 victory. With the win, Los Angeles officially clinched a playoff berth.
As the Dodgers were suffering through their losing streak, the Cleveland Indians were on the opposite end of the spectrum. The defending American League champions were already running away with the Central division following their win to the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 23. Nobody expected what would happen next, as the Indians proceeded to run off consecutive sweeps of the Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles. The Indians entered their Sept. 12 contest against the Tigers with a 19-game winning streak. One more victory would tie the 20-game, record-winning streak authored by the 2002 Oakland Athletics, immortalized in the film Moneyball.
Detroit offered little opposition against Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, who pitched a complete game shutout in a 2-0 win. The next day Cleveland would make the record its own as outfielder Jay Bruce hit a three-run home run to put the Indians in front early. Starter Mike Clevinger and the bullpen held the leading position in a historic 5-3 victory over the Tigers. The next night, down 2-1 in the ninth inning to the Royals and in danger of losing for the first time in 21 games, Cleveland came up with one last bit of magic as shortstop Francisco Lindor slapped a game-tying RBI double. One inning later, Bruce would hit a walk-off RBI double off of Kansas City reliever Brandon Maurer in a 3-2 win to push the streak to 22 consecutive games. The streak would end the following night as the Royals took a 4-3 lead into the ninth inning and reliever Mike Minor would strike out Lindor with a man on first base to end the game. As the Royals were exchanging handshakes on the field, the Indians came out to salute the fans in attendance, thanking them for their support throughout their historic run.
As Hurricane Irma barreled toward South Florida, MLB scrambled to find a neutral site to relocate a scheduled New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays series.
After the Rays turned down locations, such as Baltimore and Chicago, the decision was ultimately made that the Rays would host the Yankees at Citi Field, the home of the Mets. What followed over the next three games was one of the most bizarre series in either team’s history, as an understaffed Citi Field was filled with fans wearing Yankee pinstripes who relentlessly heckled the “home” team Rays. To make matters worse for themselves, the Rays showed little fight against the wild-card holding Yankees en route to a series loss. This extinguished what little playoff hopes the Rays had left.