Col­lapse against Yanks stings Tribe

The Columbus Dispatch - - Sports Report High School Football Tennis Golf Soc - By Tom Withers

CLEVE­LAND — The sting­ing loss still too fresh to process, out­fielder Michael Brantley worked his way around the solemn, shocked club­house and hugged some new In­di­ans team­mates and ones he’s played with for years.

The emo­tion was raw, not like in 2016, when bro­ken hearts were filled with pride fol­low­ing an ex­tra-in­ning loss in Game 7 of the World Se­ries. It hurt more this time. Josh Tom­lin’s eyes welled with tears as he searched for words to ex­plain what had hap­pened. None ever came.

Oc­to­ber, the month when cham­pi­onships are seized or squan­dered, was cal­lous to Cleve­land once more.

“I’m not re­ally sure how you get over some­thing like this,” Tom­lin said af­ter the In­di­ans were pitched from the post­sea­son with a 5-2 loss to the New York Yan­kees on Wed­nes­day night in Game 5 of the Amer­i­can League Di­vi­sion Se­ries. “I’m not re­ally sure I’m over last year, ei­ther. The only way to get over some­thing like this is to go out there and win, and that’s not what hap­pened.”

What hap­pened was the In­di­ans didn’t hit, didn’t pitch and, like last year, didn’t de­liver a knock­out punch while giv­ing up a two-game lead in the post­sea­son. It’s an un­for­give­able sin, and sadly, one Cleve­land teams have re­peated.

Since 1999, the In­di­ans are 3-17 in se­ri­esclinch­ing games, an un­con­scionable record in the most con­se­quen­tial month. The In­di­ans won 102 games in the reg­u­lar sea­son, strung to­gether the AL’s long­est win­ning streak in 116 years and en­tered the post­sea­son as the league’s top seed in a four-week tour­na­ment where the mad­ness can match any­thing that hap­pens in March.

The post­sea­son will go with­out them.

“It ab­so­lutely stinks,” said closer Cody Allen. “It’s like you’re a kid and you go to the amuse­ment park and you stay for 10 min­utes and you have to leave.”

The sud­den exit was quickly fol­lowed by ques­tions about Corey Klu­ber’s health. An 18-game win­ner and the ex­pected Cy Young win­ner, Klu­ber was or­di­nary in Oc­to­ber.

Klu­ber didn’t get the past the fourth in­ning in ei­ther start against the Yan­kees, and af­ter down­play­ing the idea that the right-han­der’s tricky back might be both­er­ing him again, man­ager Terry Fran­cona said the ace was “fight­ing a lot” on the mound.

Klu­ber posted a 12.79 ERA and gave up four homers in 6 in­nings.

All-Star short­stop Fran­cisco Lin­dor and MVP can­di­date Jose Ramirez went a com­bined 4 for 38 in the se­ries. Ja­son Kip­nis didn’t hit, Ed­win En­car­na­cion missed two games with a sprained an­kle and no one else stepped up.

While Lin­dor and Ramirez rep­re­sent the team’s youth­ful core, the In­di­ans have ma­jor off­sea­son de­ci­sions to make with some im­por­tant vet­er­ans like Brantley, Tom­lin and first base­man Car­los San­tana. Jay Bruce, whose ac­qui­si­tion in an Au­gust trade made the club stronger, will hit the free agent mar­ket as will de­pend­able re­liev­ers Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith.

[PHIL LONG/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS]

Ed­win En­car­na­cion re­acts af­ter strik­ing out against the Yan­kees on Wed­nes­day when the In­di­ans man­aged just five hits in a 5-2 loss.

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