CLEVELAND -- It is one thing to win games in Major League Baseball, and it is another to develop of a winning culture.
At one point in the second half of the 2017 season, the Indians were hovering around the .500 mark and had lost five of their six games on a west coast trip out of the MLB All-Star Game break in mid-July. However, since then, the Indians set a club and American League record with 22 straight wins, as well as a new franchise mark for the most consecutive road wins (14).
Those streaks have added up to a 100-win season for the Indians (100-59), just the third such single-season win total in franchise history.
“This is one of those teams where no matter what you do, it feels like you’re going to win because there’s just that kind of camaraderie here,” center fielder Jason Kipnis said.
“That kind of special thing we’ve got going on where we can get down early, we can get down late, where no matter what, as long as we’ve still got some outs in us, we feel like we’re still going to win the game, that’s the mark of a winning team. When you win a lot of games in a row, you learn how to win games. I think those 22 showed us many different ways to win games.”
Cleveland Indians outfielder Jason Kipnis settling in at the plate
According to Kipnis, that winning mentality was developed during the Indians’ run to Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, which they did while having just two healthy starters in the rotation, Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin, and relying heavily on the bullpen.
All the while, the Indians swept the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series, dispatched of the hot-hitting Toronto Blue Jays in just five games in the AL Championship Series and took a 3-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs before falling in 10 innings in Game 7.
“Last year’s playoff run was kind of the first go-around of it, where we showed up preparing to win, expecting to win, and then, going out and winning the ballgames, and this kind of fit the mold too,” Kipnis said.
“You guys really talked about it more than we did on that win streak, where yes, we knew what was going on, we knew the number and all that, but these guys were showing up every day with the intention to win a game and everything they did worked.”
Having been on teams that have lost 100 games in a season, Kipnis is not going to remind any of his younger teammates just how lucky they are to be a part of a run like the Indians have built since the All-Star break.
Rather, Kipnis wants them to continue setting the standard for the franchise moving forward.
“I don’t want him to ever experience that,” Kipnis said of Lindor playing on a 100-loss team. “I want him to get used to winning and have that be the only kind of atmosphere we’ve got going around here.”