Despite winning an AL-best 102 games in the regular season – and despite taking a 2-0 lead in the ALDS – the Cleveland Indians are out of the playoffs. Cleveland lost, 5-2, to the Yankees in Game 5 on Wednesday, losing three straight close-out games for the second straight postseason.
Corey Kluber, the likely AL Cy Young winner, didn’t get out of the fourth inning in either of his postseason starts. He lasted just 2 and 2/3 innings in Game 5, as Didi Gregorius took him yard twice to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
The Indians never recovered.
“I think you’re going to find out that Corey Kluber was hurt,” Cleveland’s The Fan host Andy Baskin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I’m not making excuses, but you could just see the way Kluber was throwing the ball. He wasn’t following through on stuff. He didn’t look like Corey Kluber. I don’t know if they were trying to hide it. I don’t know if thats the reason Bauer started Game 1. There’s a lot of theories rolling around here on exactly why they did what they did. Kluber didn’t come through, but the bats were nowhere to be found. The bullpen did what they needed to do, but the Indians didn’t deserve to win the series. When it was all said and done, the Yankees wanted it more. Good luck to New York. I tip my cap to them. I thought, especially from a pitching standpoint, (that) they played great.”
The Yankees will face the Astros in the ALCS. Game 1 is Friday at 8:08 p.m. ET.
Cleveland, meanwhile, is devastated for the second straight postseason. The Indians went 33-4 to close the season – and won 22 games in a row – but now they’re left wondering what could have been.
“Twenty-two-game winning streaks in the middle of the season doesn’t mean jack,” Baskin said. “I said it 100 times. People got mad at me at my own station. I’m like, ‘Listen, this is great, but it’s an hors d’oeuvre. In some of those games, they beat the Toledo Mud Hens.’ I mean, it was a great streak. The 22-game streak was great, but would you trade that now to have a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees? Absolutely you would. I think it was just a matter of taking things in perspective. Everybody was hanging their hat on that winning streak, but today it means nothing. Ask the Warriors the year the Cavs won. What does 73 wins mean? Nothing if you don’t win the title.”
Baskin expects the Indians to contend in 2018.
“It’s still a young team,” he said. “Still a lot of good contracts on this team. They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with next year. Maybe this just sticks in their craw enough to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what we do in the regular season. We need to come to play when October rolls around.’”