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Friday, December 15, 2017 Elyria
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Jim Ingraham

Commentary: Unhappy endings for Indians becoming sad tradition

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That’s it?

That’s it.

There ain’t no more.

Just like that, the postseason is over for the winningest team in the American League. It vanished quickly. Five days in October.

Up 2-0, then three straight losses, and it’s welcome to golf season for the best Indians team to not win the World Series. Or even reach the World Series — or the American League Championship Series, for that matter.

All of it faded to black on Black Wednesday for the Indians, who lost their third consecutive game to the Yankees, this one a see-you-in-Goodyear-next-spring 5-2 loss.

In getting swept in the last three games of the series, the Indians fell apart in all phases. They scored just five runs and hit .152 as a team. After leading the American League in fewest errors this year the Indians made a shocking seven errors in the last two games against the Yankees.

“We did things in this series that were out of character for our team,” manager Terry Francona said.

For those scoring at home, that makes it 3-17.

What is it about the Indians and cinching games in the postseason? Over the last 18 years they have played 20 games in which, if they won, they would clinch a postseason series. They are 3-17 in those games.

That includes Game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the Marlins, Games 5, 6 and 7 of the 2007 American League Championship Series against Terry Francona’s Boston Red Sox, Games 5, 6 and 7 in the 2016 World Series against the Cubs and now Games 3, 4 and 5 of the 2017 Division Series against the Yankees.

That’s not the full list, but it’s the most painful portion of it.

Leading the best-of-five series 2-0 after their rousing, historic, hysterical 13-inning 9-8 walk-off win in Game 2 at Progressive Field, the Indians, once again, couldn’t close the deal. They only needed one more win do to do so, but they couldn’t get one in three tries.

Forget winning a game, the Indians couldn’t even win an inning. In the last three games, the Yankees held the lead in all 27 innings.

The team that won 22 games in a row couldn’t, after Game 2, win one in a row.

It’s a kick in the stomach that may linger longer than losing the World Series to the Cubs last year after leading the series 3-1. Because this Indians team is better and healthier than that Indians team.

That Indians team won 94 games, this one won 102, the second most in franchise history. This one won an American League-record 22 games in a row, the longest winning streak in the majors in more than 100 years. This Indians team finished the regular season on — go ahead, pick your favorite — runs of 33-4 (.892), 42-8 (.840) and 54-15 (.783).

But today the Indians are no better off than the 98-loss Tigers.

They are both done playing baseball in 2017.

The Indians are done because in their last three games against New York, their record was 0-3 (.000).

Instead of expunging the sour taste and heartbreak of that 10-inning loss to the Cubs in Game 7 last year, the Indians have added to it.

So the Yankees move on, in search of World Series title No. 28, while the Indians go home with their World Series title total still stuck on two.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the starting pitcher for the Yankees in the clinching game was CC Sabathia.

In the 2007 ALCS against Boston, the Indians went into Game 5 leading the series 3-1. They were playing a potential closeout game, at home, with their ace, and eventual 2007 Cy Young Award winner, Sabathia on the mound.

The Indians lost 7-1. Sabathia threw 112 pitches in six innings, giving up an un-ace-like four runs on 10 hits. Boston went on to win the ALCS, outscoring the Indians in the last three games 30-5.

Wednesday night, pitching for the other team, Sabathia was much better — and the Indians lost again.

The Indians lost with their ace, the presumed 2017 Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber on the mound.

But not for long. Only 3 2/3 innings.

During the regular season Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA. In two starts against the Yankees his ERA was 12.79. Ten hits and nine runs allowed in 6 1/3 innings.

Expect to hear in the coming days that Kluber was not 100 percent for those two starts. Maybe it was the tight lower back that caused him to spend the month of May on the disabled list. It was something, because the postseason Corey Kluber was not the regular-season Corey Kluber.

Not even close.

“Nobody wants our season to be over,” Francona said. “It doesn’t wind down. It comes to a crashing halt.”

Crashing and crushing.

Contact Jim Ingraham at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com and follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter.


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