Tribe Eliminated from ALDS in Embarrassing Fashion; Astros 11, Indians 3
Bob Toth | On 08, Oct 2018
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.
Clevinger was good from the jump, working around a two-out Alex Bregman double in the first and a two-out walk by Carlos Correa in the second. With four strikeouts to his credit, he got into trouble in the third, loading the bases after a leadoff walk of Tony Kemp, a one-out single by Jose Altuve, and a hit by pitch of Bregman. Clevinger recovered to strike out Yuli Gurriel before getting Gonzalez to line out to left.
The Indians took the lead in the bottom of the frame. Yan Gomes started the inning against left-hander Dallas Keuchel with the Indians’ second hit of the game, singling to center. Jason Kipnis singled to right to put two on and Francisco Lindor dropped down a sacrifice to put a pair in scoring position. Two pitches later, Michael Brantley put some air under the ball and lofted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Gomes with the game’s first run.
Clevinger retired the side in order in the fourth but ran into a problem in the fifth when George Springer jumped on a first pitch slider and parked it in the bleachers in left for the game-tying home run, his second of the series.
Lindor came through for the Tribe in the bottom of the frame to put the Indians back in front. After a fly out by Gomes and a strikeout by Kipnis, Lindor crushed a 446-foot bomb off of the clock above the Home Run Porch to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead.
That score remained until the seventh, when the game and the season slipped away from the Indians in a hurry. With Trevor Bauer on the mound in his second inning of relief, Kemp started the rally with a single to right. He moved to second on a poor pickoff throw by Bauer. Springer reached on a squib out in front of the plate to put runners on the corners. Altuve grounded to short, with the Indians getting the out at second while unable to get the speedy MVP at first. Kemp scored on the play to tie the game. Bregman grounded back to Bauer, whose throw to second pulled Lindor off of the bag. His return throw to first was not in time to retire the hitter either as Bauer’s second error of the frame kept things moving in the Astros’ favor. A walk by Gurriel loaded the bases and Gonzalez delivered with his second two-run double in as many games to give the Astros a 4-2 lead. Andrew Miller retired Josh Reddick before walking Correa to reload the bases, but Cody Allen struck out pinch-hitter Tyler White to end the threat.
The Indians were retired in order after the stretch before the Astros effectively ended the series. After Kemp struck out, Springer went deep to right-center with a solo shot off of Allen to make it 5-2. Altuve doubled and Bregman was intentionally walked. A wild pitch moved both runners up and led to Gurriel being intentionally walked, loading the bases for the third time on the day. Brad Hand was summoned, but Gonzalez came through again with an RBI-single to make it a 6-2 game. Pinch-hitter Evan Gattis struck out looking for the second out, but a wild pitch with Correa at the plate allowed the seventh run to cross. Two pitches later, Correa sent a deep drive over the wall in right for a back-breaking three-run shot to make it a 10-2 Astros lead.
Cleveland got a pair of hits with one down in the eighth against Lance McCullers Jr. as Lindor and Brantley each reached with singles. But as has been the case over chunks of the last two months, Jose Ramirez came up empty on a diet of breaking pitches, drilling a third straight knuckle curve into the ground to kick start an inning-ending double play.
Houston added one more to throw salt in the gaping wound off of Adam Cimber in the ninth. Kemp walked, moved to second on a balk with one out, advanced to third on a groundout by Altuve, and scored on a single by Bregman. Gurriel added another single before Gonzalez flied out.
The Indians’ final run in the ninth was given to them, just as the division was back in April before the team played five more months of zombie baseball. Will Harris walked Edwin Encarnacion on four pitches. He moved to second on a single by Josh Donaldson in his final Indians at bat. Pinch-hitter Greg Allen grounded into a double play, but Harris uncorked a wild pitch to Melky Cabrera to move Encarnacion across the plate one last time in 2018. Cabrera grounded out to first, with Gurriel flipping to Harris covering the bag to stick the final nails in the Tribe’s coffin.
McHugh got the win with two perfect innings of relief while striking out four. Keuchel worked five innings, allowing two runs on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Harris managed to throw just five strikes in a 14-pitch ninth, but prevented the Indians from establishing any sort of last at bat dramatics.
Clevinger pitched the game that the Indians desperately needed. He lasted five innings and 99 pitches, allowing just one run on Springer’s home run and three hits in total. He did walk three, but he balanced that with nine strikeouts in the first postseason start of his career. Bauer took the loss, charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in an inning and one-third of work. He was on the mound for the third straight game and pitching in unfamiliar territory, working for the third time in relief in a four-day span. Allen, in what was potentially his final appearance for Cleveland, allowed four runs on two hits and two walks, striking out the only two batters that he retired on the day. Hand was hit for two runs on two hits with two strikeouts in two-thirds of an inning, and Cimber gave up one on two hits and a walk in the ninth.
Springer led the way with three hits for Houston. Two left the yard as he scored twice and drove in a pair. He struck out in two of his other three plate appearances. Altuve, Bregman, and Gonzalez each had two-hit games, with Altuve and Bregman each driving in a run and scoring twice, while Gonzalez knocked in three.
Lindor, who had two of the Indians’ six hits in the series coming into the day, added two more in a good day at the plate. Brantley, Donaldson, Diaz, Gomes, and Kipnis also reached on hits. The team went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position after having just two such opportunities in the first two games.
The Astros, with the sweep complete, get the honor of celebrating in the visitors clubhouse at Progressive Field, which will once again be stained with the stench of beer and champagne. Houston will now await the winner of the Boston/New York ALDS matchup, which is tied at one game apiece with Game 3 of that series set for a 7:40 PM ET start from the Bronx on Monday night. The Red Sox have home field advantage over the Astros, which has home field over the Yankees.
As for the Indians, there will be plenty of time for questions as the team looks ahead to 2019 after a second consecutive collapse in October. The Indians have lost six straight ALDS games since taking a 2-0 lead over the Yankees a season ago in their American League pennant defense.
There will be no magical title run in the 70th season since the team was last proclaimed World’s Champions back in 1948. Instead, a lot of head scratching and finger pointing and wondering about the future will be the norm as the window of contention in Cleveland creeps closer and closer to closing.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images