The Indians season came to a close Sunday afternoon in a game different than most played throughout their September fight for survival.
The eliminated Indians finished the business of the 2014 season in front of 21,400 fans at Progressive Field in a quick, 2:28, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-2. Cleveland used another solid outing by rookie, surprise T.J. House for five innings and three relievers put the Tribe’s season in the record books.
Tampa took an early lead in the second inning when Sean Rodriguez hit his 12th home run of the season. His solo shot landed in the bleachers and gave the Rays an early 1-0 lead. But Cleveland charged back with a lineup filled mostly with midseason acquisitions and minor league call-ups from the season. David Murphy started the bottom of the second inning with a solo homer and an out later Zach Walters ripped his own to give the Indians the lead. Murphy’s eighth blast and Walters’ seventh of the season each came off Rays’ starter Alex Cobb.
In the fifth inning the Indians added another run, extending their lead to 3-1. Tyler Holt started the inning with a hustle double, then moved to third base on J.B. Shuck’s ground out to second base and scored when Jose Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly.
House’s (5-3) season was complete after five innings, allowing one run on five hits while striking out two. A pleasant surprise to this season, House has been an effective and consistent starter in his rookie year. C.C. Lee pitched the sixth inning, allowing a run when Brandon Guyer doubled to left field, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
Cleveland responded with a run in the bottom half of the sixth when Murphy singled and scored from first base when Walters doubled over Guyer’s head in left. Guyer charged in on the ball before it flew over his head and rolled to the wall. Walters’ run batted in gave the Indians a 4-2 lead after six.
Cobb (10-9) was complete after six innings. The Rays’ starter that ended the Tribe’s season a year ago in the Wild Card game, tossed six inning, allowing four runs on 10 hits and two homer runs, while striking out five. Jeff Beliveau came in to pitch for the Rays’ in the seventh and Cleveland put the game away. Singles by J.B. Shuck and Ramirez and a walk by Lonnie Chisenhall loaded the bases for Carlos Santana to single to right and score a pair. Jesus Aguilar grounded into a fielder’s choice to score another run and the Indians led 7-2.
Kyle Crockett pitched the seventh inning before Zach McAllister tossed the final two innings to end the season. McAllister allowed just one hit in two innings and has looked strong in relief situations this September.
Cleveland finishes the season 85-77 on the season, five games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division and in third place. Cleveland is seven games worse than a season ago when they made the Wild Card game against Tampa Bay.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images