CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians are on quite the roll as the regular season winds down and the Major League Baseball Playoffs approach.
The Indians are in the midst of an 11-game road trip that has seen them earn a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the Bronx for the first time since 1989, take a four-game set from the Detroit Tigers and hustle their way to a Labor Day win over the Chicago White Sox Monday.
Currently, the Indians (81-56) hold a 10-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central Division standings, and are trailing the Houston Astros by just three games for the best record in the AL with 25 contests remaining in the season.
Here are five reasons how the Indians have been able to compile the 12-game win streak, the longest in MLB this season:
It is always easier to pitch with a lead than while trailing in a game, and the Indians have had plenty of success pushing across the first runs during their winning streak.
The Indians have scored first in all 12 games of the run, and they are 61-19 on the season when scoring first. Cleveland has won its last 18 games when scoring first.
Combined over the last 12 games, the Indians scored 45 runs before their opponents got on the board.
PLENTY OF RUNS
During the win streak, the Indians have scored 40 runs in the first three innings of their games.
And while in three of those games, they pushed across only one run at a time, they have scored two or more runs 11 times in the first three innings of play.
The Indians have outscored opponents, 84-21, and are plus-63 in run differential since August 24.
SPOT START SUCCESS
Just like the first game of their traditional doubleheader at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday, the Indians started fast offensively, pitched well throughout and limited the effectiveness of a powerful Yankees offense in the nightcap.
On the strength of an early four-run advantage, the Indians earned a 9-4 victory over the Yankees, which completed both the doubleheader and three-game series sweep in The Bronx.
Spot starter Ryan Merritt scattered five hits, two walks and one earned run over 5.1 innings of work on the way to his second victory of the season.
Over five games for the Indians this season, including four starts, Merritt has posted a 2-0 record with a 1.74 earned run average. Over 20.2 innings of work, Merritt has allowed 26 hits and four walks, but only four earned runs.
Even before the winning streak began, the Indians saw one of their starters, Trevor Bauer, start to emerge as the type of talent who was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.
In the month of August, Bauer posted a 5-0 record and 2.30 earned run average in seven appearances, including six starts. Over 39.0 innings of work, Bauer allowed 10 earned runs and nine walks against 40 strikeouts.
Bauer earned two wins each over the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the top two teams in the AL East Division, as well as one against the Kansas City Royals.
Then, in 6.1 innings of work against the White Sox Monday, Bauer allowed just three hits, two earned runs and one walk against nine strikeouts. Over his last nine starts, Bauer has a 2.50 earned run average, and his 15 wins on the season are the most on the team.
NEXT MAN UP
After struggling out of the All-Star break, the Indians racked up nine straight wins before ending July with back-to-back losses to the White Sox and Red Sox, but when the calendar flipped to August, the players ratcheted up the intensity.
The Indians closed out the month of August with a 19-9 record, and in doing so, increased their lead over both the Twins and Royals, all while playing teams above the .500 mark and with nine players, including reliever Andrew Miller, starting pitcher Danny Salazar and outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley, on the disabled list due to a myriad of injuries.
© 2017 WKYC-TV