The Cubs won 21 straight games in 1935 on their way to a National League pennant.
That’s the major-league record for consecutive wins. You might have heard national media credit the 1916 Giants with a “26-game winning streak.” This is wrong. The 1916 Giants did have a 26-game stretch in which they did not lose. However, there was a tie game in that string — they won 12, then had a tie game, then won 13 more in a row. That’s not a “winning streak,” that’s an “unbeaten streak.”
So the 1935 Cubs hold the record that could be tied by the Indians this afternoon when they host the Tigers. Here are some fun facts from Cleveland’s streak:
Cleveland has allowed 33 runs during the streak; it's the best 20-game stretch in MLB since the Indians allowed 28 runs in April/May 1968.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) September 13, 2017
Over the course of the winning streak, Cleveland starting pitchers have gone 18-0 with a 1.71 ERA.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) September 13, 2017
Maybe my favorite stat from the Indians' streak: They have trailed for a total of four innings out of the 180 they have played. Amazing.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) September 13, 2017
The Indians have more shutouts during their winning streak than 14 teams have all season.— Jason Lukehart (@JasonLukehart) September 13, 2017
That’s seven shutouts for Cleveland during the streak. The Cubs have six all year.
Anyway, here’s a look at the Cubs’ 21-game streak. They began it September 4, 1935. They’d split a doubleheader with the Reds September 2 and were in third place, 2½ games out of first, with a 79-52 record. They had an off day September 3 and then began the streak. As was the case often in those years, the Cubs were in the middle of a very long homestand. The first 18 of the 21 wins were at Wrigley Field. In fairness, let it be said that of the 21 wins, the first 12 were against teams with losing records, and the first eight against the truly awful Phillies and Braves (the Braves lost 115 games that year).
Augie Galan hit two home runs and drove in six runs and Larry French threw a complete game with eight strikeouts.
The Cubs blew a 2-0 lead, but won in the 11th inning when they loaded the bases on two walks and an error and Frank Demaree delivered a walkoff single.
This time, the Cubs had to come from behind to tie the game 2-2 in the eighth. Galan led off the bottom of the 10th with a walkoff homer.
Bill Lee threw a six-hit shutout to pace this win.
Tex Carleton allowed only five hits and Demaree paced a 10-hit attack with three singles in the first game of a doubleheader.
The Cubs scored a pair in the first inning and Larry French threw a complete game with no strikeouts (!) to complete the doubleheader sweep.
Charlie Root threw a six-hit shutout and also had two hits. The game took just one hour, 23 minutes.
The Cubs completed a four-game sweep of the Braves with this blowout, which featured a six-run inning and an eight-run inning. Interestingly, the 19-hit attack included no home runs.
The Cubs spotted the Dodgers a 2-0 lead, then blew them out with a 15-hit performance that included a home run from Galan.
The Cubs again let the Dodgers score first, but then put three runs on the board in the fourth inning and won their 10th straight, moving into a virtual first-place tie with the Cardinals.
The Cubs did not allow more than three runs in any of the 21 wins... except for this one, when the Dodgers smashed two home runs and scored 14 runs. The Cubs led 8-0, 16-4 and 18-9 when the Dodgers scored five in the ninth and actually had the tying run at the plate with two out when the awesomely-named Fabian Kowalik was summoned into the game. He struck out Johnny McCarthy to end it. The Cubs took over sole possession of first place, which they would not relinquish the rest of the year.
The Cubs again spotted the Dodgers a 2-0 lead, then tied it in the bottom of the first, partly with the help of a Gabby Hartnett homer. They took the lead with two unearned runs in the second and held on for the win.
A six-run fourth inning put the Cubs ahead to stay in this first of a four-game series against the Giants, the first team with a winning record the Cubs defeated during the streak.
The Cubs again came from behind, this time in the sixth inning. The Giants made four errors and the resulting two unearned runs were the difference in the game.
This game resembled the Brewers’ blowout of the Cubs last weekend. The Cubs put together an eight-run fourth inning and never looked back. Future Hall of Famer Billy Herman had four hits.
The Cubs completed a four-game sweep of the Giants for their 16th straight win. With seven games remaining in the season, their magic number to clinch the pennant was reduced to seven.
Entering the ninth inning leading 4-1, Cubs righthander Bill Lee gave up four straight singles producing two runs. Lon Warneke, normally a starter, entered and got two forceouts at third, then issued a walk. With the tying and lead runs on base, Warneke got Red Lucas to ground out to win it.
Larry French threw a nine-hit shutout and the streak reached 18. The Cubs’ pennant-winning magic number was reduced to four.
The Cubs had two off days to travel to St. Louis to face the Cardinals. On those two days, the Cardinals split two games with the Pirates. The Cubs won their 19th straight on 9/25 as Warneke threw a two-hit shutout for his 20th win. The win clinched a tie for the N.L. pennant.
A rainout September 26 forced this doubleheader. The Cubs put together a 15-hit attack against Cardinals star Dizzy Dean, including a Stan Hack homer and four hits from Freddie Lindstrom and clinched the pennant with their 20th straight win, which tied the franchise record set in 1880.
Run-scoring singles by Billy Herman and Augie Galan in the ninth inning broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Cubs their 21st consecutive victory. It was also the Cubs’ 100th win of the season, the team’s first 100-win season since 1910. It would be the last until the great 2016 season.
After clinching the pennant and winning their 100th game, the Cubs nearly extended this streak to 22. They scored three runs in the ninth inning September 28 against the Cardinals, but lost 5-3 on a Joe Medwick two-run walkoff homer in the 11th. They also lost the final game of the regular season to the Cardinals 2-1 to finish 100-54, and then lost the World Series to the Tigers, four games to two.
During the 21-game streak, the Cubs threw three shutouts and outscored their opponents 137-54 — 14 of those opponent runs coming in one game!
Congratulations to the Indians on their tremendous achievement this season. But I hope you don’t mind if I kind of hope Cleveland loses today — their game starts at 11:10 a.m. CT (feel free to use this as a game thread for that game). I’d like the Cubs’ streak to remain alone as the major-league record.