Well at least Jose Mesa is happy.
This gets him off the hook.
There is now another Game 7 to keep Indians fans up nights, but this one didn’t have any goats. Only heroes.
What is it about the Indians and Game 7 of the World Series? They don’t just lose them, they move the needle on the excruciation meter all the way to the right. From 10 to 11, and there is no 11.
There’s also no more World Series.
It’s over, and it left town with the Indians scratching their heads wondering where that 3-1 lead went.
Here’s where it went:
Game 5: Cubs 3, Indians 2.
Game 6: Cubs 9, Indians 3.
Game 7: Cubs 8, Indians 7 (10 innings).
But we’ll only remember the Game 7 that came this close to being a Game 7 never to forget.
“That,” said manager Terry Francona, “was an incredible game.”
When Rajai Davis, with the Cubs four outs away from a 6-4 victory, hit a thunderbolt two-out, two-run, too-good-to-be-true game-tying home run in the eighth inning, Progressive Field literally shook from the thunderclap response by the sellout crowd.
But two innings later, in a 10th inning that wouldn’t end, the Cubs scored two more runs, and won by one.
“It’s going to hurt, but it hurts because we care,” Francona said. “They (Indians players) left nothing on the field. They tried until there was nothing left.”
For the Indians and their fans, Game 7 is the badlands. You spend your life waiting for a moment that just don’t come.
It didn’t come in 1997, when the Indians became the first team in major league history to enter the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series with the lead and not win the Series.
It didn’t come for the next 18 years when the Indians didn’t reach the World Series.
And it didn’t come in 2016, when the Indians did reach the World Series, put a down payment on a parade, but couldn’t cash the check. Leading the Series 3-1, with two of the last three games at home, the Indians lost all three.
This may be an even bigger bitter pill for Cleveland’s ball fans to swallow than the Mesa Meltdown. That was just one inning in one game out of seven. One really bad inning. Hey, stuff happens.
But this year it was three losing games, played consecutively, the last two in the friendly confines of Depressive, er, Progressive Field, where dreams are supposed to come true.
Three-to-one. The Indians were only nine innings from a World Series title while the Cubs were 27 innings from the Promised Land — and the Cubs beat the Indians to the finish line.
After shutting out the Cubs in two of the first three games and outscoring them 15-7 in the first four games, the Indians, their injury-riddled pitching staff on fumes, were outscored 20-11 in the last three.
In Game 7, Corey Kluber, gamely making his third start of the series, the last two on short rest, did not have his best stuff.
The evidence: He gave up a home run to the first batter he faced and to the last batter he faced. In four innings, Kluber, who was fifth in the American League in strikeouts, didn’t strike out anyone.
The Indians’ skeleton rotation, caused by the loss of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar to injuries, finally caught up to them. Amazingly, they made it all the way to the seventh game of the World Series before it happened.
But happen, it did.
It actually became evident in the last two games of the series. Kluber, and Game 6 starter Josh Tomlin were both working on short rest, and it showed. Their combined ERA in those two games was 14.21, with 10 runs and 12 hits allowed, and no strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
It was an undermanned, overextended rotation that was out of gas.
No shame in that. Kluber, Tomlin and a wounded Trevor Bauer were all the Indians had to throw out there as starting pitchers in the postseason, with the exception of one short and electrifying start by rookie Ryan Merritt.
“For our starters to have the guts to take the ball, like Corey three times in a series — without them we don’t get anywhere close to here,” Francona said.
The feisty Indians swept Boston in three games, beat Toronto in five games and took the Cubs, who won 114 games this year, counting the postseason, to extra innings in Game 7 of the World Series.
Next year, with a healthy rotation, the American League champions could be back in the World Series again.
In the meantime, all that hubbub about securing the home-field advantage in the World Series was somewhat overblown.
The Indians had the home-field advantage, but lost three of the four games at Progressive Field.
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