sports 4 days ago

Marla Ridenour: Indians reflect on ALDS, missed opportunity

Akron Beacon Journal — By Marla Ridenour Akron Beacon Journal

Oct. 12-- CLEVELAND-Andrew Miller had a hint of how much the Indians' accomplishments this season will mean in a month or two.

But in the wake of their 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday night at Progressive Field, the Tribe's left-handed setup man couldn't grasp all that.

Miller wanted a parade.

"Right now I just want to keep playing," Miller said. "We'd love to win a World Series and do a parade through Cleveland. We saw the way the Cavs were embraced."

That kind of celebration didn't seem out of the question when the Indians took a 2-0 ALDS lead on the wild card-winning Yankees. After a stunning comeback from an 8-3 deficit in Game 2, the Tribe looked primed for a return to the World Series. Then their season ended abruptly as they lost their last three games for the second consecutive year.

As they hugged and left the clubhouse, many didn't have perspective on their achievements, but they had a good handle on what went wrong.

"Unfortunately 2017 is a wrap for us. It's not how we wanted it to go," closer Cody Allen said. "Didn't make the big pitch, didn't get the big hit, but there's a lot of belief in this clubhouse. There's a lot of talent in this clubhouse. We won 102 games, that's not fake.

"Hats off to those guys, they flat out played better than we did the last three days."

Center fielder Jason Kipnis was taking his cap off, too, but with a caveat.

"We didn't come up with big hits, guys weren't hitting as well as we did in the season," Kipnis said. "We picked a bad time to do it.

"I'm not going to tell you the better team is going on, I still think we're the better team. But I think they played better the last three days."

Many Indians believed they were the better team.

"We didn't make the plays. We didn't make the pitch. We didn't have the good at-bats. We got into a little bit of a rut at the wrong time," right-hander Josh Tomlin said. "You never want to go into that rut and if it does, you definitely don't want it to happen in the ALDS. Unfortunately, it did.

"They played better. Tip your caps. That's a pretty good team over there. We obviously feel like we're better, but it didn't happen that way. I guess we're not at this point."

The Indians, who batted .263 in winning an AL-high 102 games in the regular season, hit .171 as a team against the Yankees.

Their two MVP candidates, shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jose Ramirez, went 2 for 18 (.111) and 2 for 20, respectively. Their leading hitters were catchers Yan Gomes (.333) and Roberto Perez (.300).

"They shut down one of the best hitters in the league, Jose Ramirez, he's one of our top guys. They shut Frankie down also," Perez said. "They make it tough for them. What else can I say?"

Lindor said he didn't make the needed adjustments during the series.

"I had five games to make adjustments and I made adjustments here and there. I hit a couple balls hard, but none of them went through," Lindor said. "When I had people on base, I didn't come through. You understand that you've got to make adjustments a lot faster than what you are making."

In Game 5, the Indians got five hits, all off CC Sabathia. Yet ex-Indian Sabathia, 37, finished the series with a 3.72 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. In Sunday's Game 3, Masahiro Tanaka shut them out on a three-hitter. Luis Severino, who made a disastrous wild card start, allowed four hits and three earned runs in seven innings in Monday's Game 4.

"They're the same guys we've hit before," Kipnis said. "They pitched their asses off, they've got an outstanding bullpen, CC did a great job again. But we didn't help ourselves in any way at the plate. We chased a lot of pitches, I know I did. Just picked a bad time to kind of cool off.

"It was a series-long thing, we couldn't come up with the hits or string anything together. Guys were just in a little funk. It's tough."

The Indians, whose 76 errors in the regular season were the fewest in the AL and the second-fewest in the majors behind the Miami Marlins, committed seven in the final two games and nine for the series. In contrast, the Yankees made three miscues in six games (including the wild card).

"Baseball. I really don't have an explanation for it," right fielder Jay Bruce said. "It's just ill-timed. Errors that never really happen. We'd rather it didn't happen, but we just got beat."

There is also the question of what went wrong with AL Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber, who gave up nine earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of two starts after allowing four earned runs in five September starts. There is speculation that the lower back strain that kept the right-hander out nearly all of May flared up again.

"None of us in this clubhouse are looking back thinking 'What if?' They beat our best guy," Allen said of Kluber, who took Wednesday's loss. "He's far and away our best guy. He's the one who starts this whole thing, he drives the ship."

Miller would like another chance at the Yankees, but instead he was left to think about next year.

"In the playoffs anything can happen," Miller said. "We threw it all out there. Wasn't good enough this series. I'd like our chances (in playing again). That's not the way it works.

"It feels (too) soon. I feel like this was a team capable of winning a World Series. You don't get too many opportunities like that. We didn't capitalize on this one. I like our chances next year."

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(c)2017 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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