The Kansas City Royals are headed to the World Series after a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 4 of the ALCS. Not only did the win give Kansas City a second straight 2014 playoff series sweep, but it improved the Royals’ postseason winning streak — which started way back in 1985 — to 11 games and counting. KC will attempt to extend that string when the Fall Classic begins Tuesday night, but in the meantime, where does the Royals’ current streak rank among the longest all-time?
We’re counting down the seven longest postseason winning streaks in MLB history, from least to most consecutive games won. (Credit to baseball-reference.com for all statistics and records.) And we begin with…
2007-2008 Boston Red Sox (nine games)
The 2007 world champion Red Sox closed that autumn’s postseason with seven straight victories, three against the Indians to rally from a 3-1 series deficit and then a four-game sweep of the Rockies. Riding arms like Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and Jonathan Papelbon, the Sox didn’t need a ton of extra offense, but still scored double-digit runs four times in a five-game span in late October. Boston won the first two games of the 2008 playoffs to extend the streak to nine games before finally tasting defeat.
1937-1941 New York Yankees (10 games)
To the surprise of no one, the New York Yankees appear on this list quite a few times, including the 1937-1941 streak where the Yanks won a total of 10 consecutive playoff games. The Yankees were in the midst of a run of five World Series championships in six years, and they didn’t lose a playoff game between the 1937 Series clincher — against the New York Giants — and Game 2 in 1941 vs. Brooklyn. Giants? Cubs? Reds? Dodgers? It didn’t matter what National League club squared off with the Yankees in those days; none ultimately measured up to Joe DiMaggio and company.
1989-1990 Oakland Athletics (10 games)
From 1988-1990, the Oakland A’s appeared in three straight World Series, winning just the middle one. Part of that span was a 10-game winning streak that stretched from 1989 to 1990. The Athletics finished the 1989 postseason with six straight victories, including a four-game sweep of San Francisco in that year’s earthquake-disrupted World Series. Led by ‘Bash Brothers’ Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, Oakland didn’t miss a beat in next year’s American League Championship, sweeping four straight from the Red Sox, but the Athletics’ luck quickly turned: The A’s were swept in the World Series by Cincinnati.
2012-2014 San Francisco Giants (10 games)
One of the most recent entries on this list is the San Francisco Giants, who had also won 10 straight postseason games before dropping Game 3 of this year’s NLDS to Washington. The Giants’ streak got underway in 2012, when San Francisco rallied from a 3-1 NLCS deficit with three straight wins over the Cardinals and then went on to sweep the Tigers for the crown. In all, seven different pitchers won games during the streak, which included this fall’s wild-card win over the Pirates and a pair of games against the Nats.
1985-present Kansas City Royals (11 games)
Not only have the Royals won 11 straight postseason games overall (counting the final three games of the 1985 World Series), but KC has improved to a sparkling 8-0 in this year’s playoffs. The 2014 Royals are the first team in MLB history to start the postseason with eight straight victories. That’s one record for Kansas City, and wins in the first two games of the World Series would be another: 13 consecutive playoff wins. No team has ever done it. One franchise has come close, though. Twice, actually…
1927-1932 New York Yankees (12 games)
The current record for consecutive postseason wins is 12, and the New York Yankees have accomplished that feat on two different occasions. The first came in the late ’20s and early ’30s, as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig led New York to three titles in a six-year span. The Yankees swept the Pirates in 1927, swept the Cardinals in 1928, and swept the Cubs in 1932. New York’s lineup was impressive, but the defense was sturdy too: The Yanks didn’t allow more than four runs in a single game once in the 1927 or 1928 Series.
1998-1999 New York Yankees (12 games)
Joe Torre took the Yankees to the playoffs every year he managed the club, from 1996-2007. He won a total of four rings during his time at the helm, including three straight from 1998-2000. Part of that dynasty was a playoff winning streak that spanned a dozen games between 1998 and 1999, tying the record that the storied franchise had set more than 60 years earlier. The ’98 Yankees won their final seven games of the postseason, disposing of the Indians and then sweeping the Padres. The 1999 team went 11-1 in the playoffs, including wins in the first five games to run the string to 12 before Boston’s Pedro Martinez handed New York its only loss of that postseason.