By Adam Schabel
The Cleveland Indians suffered heartbreak during the playoffs for the second year in a row. They were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Yankees in game five of the American League Division Series (ALDS) on Oct. 11. Cleveland made it all the way to game seven of the World Series last year but fell to the Chicago Cubs in that game.
Fans were angry, frustrated and sad after yet another blow for Cleveland sports fans. Frustrations boiled over to the point where police were called to break up a fight between Yankees and Indians fans that occurred after game five outside of Progressive Field.
Expectations were high for the Indians this season and they lived up to the hype.
The team ended the regular season with 102 wins and 60 losses which propelled them to a second straight American League Central division title. Cleveland also won 22 straight games from Aug. 24 through Sept. 14. That was the second longest winning streak in MLB history. The 1916 New York Giants won 26 consecutive games and currently hold the record for consecutive wins.
The Indians cruised through the second half of the season, disposing opponents with ease and entered the playoffs red hot.
Despite the great baseball Cleveland played, everything came to a screeching halt on Oct. 11.
Cleveland shutout New York 4-0 in game one of the series and were led by starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Bauer tossed six and two-thirds scoreless innings of two-hit baseball before exiting the game.
Game two was a game of highs and lows for the Indians.
Cleveland’s ace Corey Kluber struggled in his 2017 postseason debut. He only lasted two and two-thirds innings and surrendered six earned runs on seven hits. The Indians fell behind 8-3 before rallying back to tie the game.
Cleveland’s All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam off the foul pole in right field in the sixth inning which brought the Indians within a run. Outfielder Jay Bruce tied the game at eight in the eighth inning with a solo home run. Bruce came over from the New York Mets at the trade deadline and was a key contributor for the Indians down the stretch.
The Indians and Yankees kept each other scoreless until Cleveland broke through in the bottom of the 13th inning. Catcher Yan Gomes smoked a ball down the left field line which scored outfielder Austin Jackson from second base. The Indians won 9-8 and took a commanding 2-0 lead in the best of five series heading to New York for games three and four.
The Indians were shutout 1-0 in game three. Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka threw seven scoreless innings. New York scored the only run of the game in the seventh inning on a Greg Bird solo home run off Cleveland’s All-Star reliever Andrew Miller.
Game four was a rough one for the Indians. Trevor Bauer was tabbed as the starter for the Indians by manager Terry Francona. He was pitching on short rest after starting game one of the series.
Bauer got rocked and exited the game early. He only lasted one and two thirds innings and surrendered four hits.
Bauer didn’t get any help from his defense, however, as the four runs scored off of him were unearned because the Indians committed four errors in the game.
The Indians fell 7-3 and the series became tied at two heading to Cleveland for a winner-take-all game five.
Corey Kluber was back on the mound for game five and was expected to bounce back after struggling in game two.
Kluber pitched three and two-thirds innings and gave up three runs on three hits to go along with two walks. All three runs that Kluber gave up were produced by Yankees outfielder Didi Gregorius. He hit a solo home run right out of the gate in the first inning followed by a two-run shot in the third inning.
Francona said after the game that he noticed Kluber’s pitch execution was declining and therefore decided to remove him from the game before it got worse.
The Indians tried to rally but ultimately fell short as the Yankees won 5-2.
The Indians’ season ended abruptly and Cleveland fans were stunned. How could a team that won 102 games and ran away with their division struggle so badly?
The numbers say it all.
As a team, Cleveland had a miserable .171 batting average in the ALDS.
The Indians also committed nine errors in the series after leading American League (AL) in fielding percentage during the regular season. This means they committed the fewest errors in the AL during the regular season.
Cleveland’s All-Star second baseman and MVP candidate, Jose Ramirez, went ice cold from the plate in the ALDS after hitting a blistering .318 in the regular season. In addition, his on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) was down 675 points from the regular season.
Ramirez and Lindor – two of Cleveland’s best hitters during the regular season – failed to do much damage in the ALDS. They both hit a combined 4-for-38 with one home run and four runs batted in (RBI). During the regular season, they both combined to hit 62 home runs and drove in 172 RBIs.
The Cy Young Award frontrunner, Corey Kluber, was not his normal self at all. He gave up nine earned runs on 10 hits in just six and one-third innings in the ALDS. He also walked three batters and gave up four home runs. Kluber compiled an 0-1 record with a 12.79 earned run average (ERA) in the ALDS.
The way this season ended was disappointing, stunning and frustrating for Indians fans. This early playoff exit is going to hurt for a while.
However, Cleveland fans are a resilient group who tend to remain positive even in unfortunate circumstances.
Students at Cleveland State supported the team all season long by wearing their Indians jerseys, shirts and hats.
Jeff Bolt, a communications professor at Cleveland State, donned his Indians hat with the red “block C” logo the day after the series ended.
“It still was a great season. We broke an AL record for consecutive wins and we have a young team with a great manager that really has a vision,” Bolt said. “We just fell short but that’s the spirit of the game and next season we’re going to have a lot of guys coming back.”
Matthew Horning, a journalism major at Cleveland State, can often be seen in the communications building lounge wearing his Indians jersey.
“It was overall a good season,” Horning said. “I’m disappointed it ended the way it did but looking forward, who knows what this team could do, there’s potential.”
Adrienne Goehler, a communications student at Cleveland State, frequently wears Indians gear and is looking forward to next season.
“I’m optimistic about the fact we have a lot of our core players returning,” Goehler said. “People like Kluber, Carrasco, Lindor, Miller, Ramirez and Encarnacion are essential to our success.”
Michael Comodeca, a journalism major at Cleveland State, sports a different Cleveland team cap every day.
“The reason I’m optimistic for next year is because we have an outstanding pitching staff to build around and a good young core of position players returning,” Comodeca said.
Matt Poshedley, a journalism major at Cleveland State, can be seen wearing Cleveland sports t-shirts regularly.
“The loss was very upsetting but with that being said, the season was a blast,” Poshedley said. “I’ll never forget this season.”