The postseason hangover in Cleveland has extended all the way to Arizona for the Indians organization, as the team’s participants on the shared roster of the Glendale Desert Dogs have taken four straight losses to open the Arizona Fall League schedule.
Seven Indians prospects are members of the Desert Dogs club, joining representatives from the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees. Glendale is winless at 0-4 to start the season, which began Tuesday from the desert. They trail the first place Surprise Saguaros by three games in the AFL West Division.
The Indians have sent four pitchers – Justin Garza, Rob Kaminsky, Jared Robinson, and Dalbert Siri – and three position players – Yu Chang, Li-Jen Chu, and Connor Marabell – to Arizona for offseason work. Joining them in Glendale is Double-A Akron pitching coach Rigo Beltran.
The Indians erupt for seven runs in the top of the eleventh inning to rout the Red Sox in Boston, 13-6, to even the American League Championship Series at one game each with the series heading back to Cleveland.
After trailing 2-1 in their best-of-nine series with the Brooklyn Dodgers (Robins), the Cleveland Indians win their fourth straight game and clinch the 1920 World Series with a 3-0 victory at Dunn Field in Cleveland.
So this is how it ends, like T.S. Eliot, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
When the Cubs beat the Indians in the wee small hours in November 2016, it felt – at least to me – like a moral victory. Yeah, the Indians lost a 3-1 lead in the World Series, but they were playing with house money just by GETTING to the World Series, with a two-and-a-half man rotation.
The next year hurt. The Indians won 102 games – second-most in team history – and again jumped out to a series lead, this time in the American League Division Series against the Yankees. I was one of the crowd in an epic Game 2 that ended after 13 innings with an Indians win, and I told a friend afterword, “This is the type of loss that doesn’t defeat a team. It demoralizes them.”
The American League Championship Series gets under way at the Kingdome in Seattle as the Mariners host the Cleveland Indians, hot off of an ALDS sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Their winning ways run out as they drop a 3-2 decision to the Mariners for their first playoff loss since 1954.
Seventy seasons of Indians baseball are in the books since that October 1948 parade, and still the Commissioner’s Trophy eludes the city of Cleveland. But hey, at least the city gets to host its sixth All-Star Game next July.
There were some along the way who felt that the Cleveland Indians just did not belong in the elite class of the American League bracket of the Major League Baseball playoffs this season. After sleepwalking through a pathetic schedule against the worst division in the game and failing to show up for 27 innings of baseball in an embarrassing three-game sweep at the hands of the reigning champs and juggernaut Houston Astros, maybe there’s something to that logic.
But there were also those who had higher expectations for the AL Central champions of the last three years. Some eyed an Indians-Dodgers 1920 rematch or, Fox’s worst nightmare, an Indians-Brewers pairing as potential outcomes of October baseball this year. Some felt that the winner of the Cleveland-Houston matchup would be the team to beat, the surefire American League champion primed to steamroll the senior circuit. On paper, the Indians had All-Stars littered across the field, and maybe the team was saving more inspired play that was lacking across the regular season slate for a deep postseason run, because the zombie stroll through the regular season against a barrage a sub-.500 teams sure made the team look ill-prepared when the American League Division Series started last weekend.
A three-run seventh gave the Houston Astros their first lead of the day and a six-run eighth buried Chief Wahoo as the Cleveland Indians were swept out of the American League Division Series in an embarrassing 11-3 shellacking on Monday afternoon from Progressive Field.
A packed house in downtown Cleveland was the site of one of the more disappointing losses in the playoff history of the Indians, who put up a pitiful last stand at their remodeled gem at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. A 2-1 lead afforded to starter Mike Clevinger was lost in the seventh as several throwing errors and the lethal bat of Indian killer Marwin Gonzalez put the Astros on top for good. The next two innings just threw more dirt on the grave of the 2018 season.
The tables have turned dramatically on the Cleveland Indians while playing in their third consecutive American League Division Series. After sweeping the Boston Red Sox in 2016 and winning the first two games of the set last season against the New York Yankees, the Indians find themselves in an 0-2 hole against the reigning champions, the Houston Astros. Cleveland will host Game 3 on Monday, and if the Indians can pull out a victory, Game 4 will take place from Progressive Field on Tuesday.
The series has not gone well for the Indians thus far. Key hitters have slumped and the team as a whole has managed just six hits through the first two contests against a notably tough Astros pitching staff. Four different batters have gone hitless in the series. The starters have given up six walks in ten innings of work, and the bullpen has surrendered four runs in six innings.