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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 13, 2017 1:00 am

Heartbreaking losses piling up for Indians

TOM WITHERS | Associated Press

CLEVELAND – The stinging loss still too fresh to process, outfielder Michael Brantley worked his way around the solemn, shocked clubhouse and hugged some Indians teammates.

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 Yankees on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the AL Division Series. “I'm not really sure I'm over last year, either.”

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 series-clinching games, an unconscionable record in the most consequential month. In the past two years, Cleveland has lost six consecutive games.

It's somewhat unfair to label a team this successful as chokers, but they've done nothing to dispel that tag.

“It's baseball,” said Brantley. “Nothing matters after the regular season is over. The goal is to win three games. We came up short.”

Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is promised.

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.

The bottom line is that Cleveland's best players didn't deliver.

Ace Corey Kluber posted a 12.79 ERA and gave up four homers in 61/3 innings. All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez went 4 for 38 in the series, often flailing at pitches out of the strike zone. Jason Kipnis didn't hit, Edwin Encarnacion missed two games with a sprained ankle and no one else stepped up.