CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – When Trevor Bauer referred to his success against the Houston Astros as ‘random variation’ earlier in the season, he was not lying. Baseball is a confusing game with often confusing results.
It is safe to say that the New York Yankees’ rally from two games down in the ALDS to subdue the top regular season team in the American League was just that. Confusing.
That being said, as for what the Cleveland Indians could control in the ALDS, they failed. It was not a universal failure, but it was a failure nonetheless.
In 2016, the Indians were simply beaten by a team that was better in a seven game series.
In 2017, the Indians beat themselves. That qualifies as an abject failure.
At the plate, one of the league’s top offenses produced five runs in the final three games, two of those games and just three runs inside the bandbox known as Yankee Stadium.
In the field, the defending AL Champs committed nine errors in the series, including seven in their final two.
It was all capped off in the 9th inning of a 3-2 ballgame with a lazy exchange between Jay Bruce and Francisco Lindor that allowed a second run to score on a Brett Gardner single. That sent fans to the exits, sucking the life out of a playoff crowd and presumably players on their home turf.
The Indians boasted three players who will presumably receive an MVP vote, and all three disappointed in the playoffs.
While the Tribe bats went missing, it was their two young stars, Lindor and Jose Ramirez, who produced the loudest silence.
The Indians would not even had made it to Game 5 had Lindor not hit a grand slam in Game 2. Otherwise, he turned in a 1-for-17 stretch in the biggest stretch of the season. Ramirez turned in a 2-for-20 performance with two walks.
It was not just the Indians who saw their brightest stars flame out. The Yankees suffered through a 1-for-20 effort with a playoff series record 16 strikeouts.
Like Lindor, Judge made a game-saving play with his robbery of the Tribe shortstop of a home run in Game 3. Unlike Lindor’s team, the rest of his team picked him up.
The most confusing, staggering, and perhaps random thing that happened in the entire season, let alone the postseason was the implosion of Corey Kluber.
The most dependable player in the entire Indians organization was the focus of Manager Terry Francona’s decision-making process, only to reward his club with his two worst starts since June 1st.
There was question – or perhaps lack thereof following postgame media availability – about whether or not the Cy Young front-runner was dealing with a back injury that forced him to miss almost all of May. The fact of the matter was that Kluber summed up both of his starts as well as he could on Wednesday night.
“Not good enough,” he said.
That pretty much sums up the Indians in the ALDS, wouldn’t you say?
Anybody who was told that Corey Kluber would have two relatively awful starts in a five-game series would have said that there was zero chance his team would win the series. Anybody who was told that Edwin Encarnacion would miss the better part of three games and would be hobbled in one would say the same thing.
Yet they still had their chance, and they gave it away.