Indians Ride Wave of Emotions in Crushing 10-9 Loss to Yankees to End 2020 Season
CLEVELAND - It seems like the Indians come up with new ways to break fans hearts year after year.
2020 was no exception.
In a game that had more twists and turns than a roller coaster at Cedar Point, the Indians 2020 season ended Wednesday night, falling at home for the second straight day to the New York Yankees.
This time it wasn’t a 12-3 loss, but a 10-9 loss that feels more like a punch to the stomach than a loss Tuesday that was just flat out stunning.
All night long the Indians rallied back, even taking a lead at one point in the 8th inning when Cesar Hernandez singled home Delino DeShields to put the Tribe up 9-8.
They turned it over to their reliable closer, Brad Hand, who had not blown a save all year.
Hand walked the first batter he faced, which against a good team like New York always seems to spell doom, and by the time it was over the Yankees had plated two runs, which with Aroldis Chapman on the mound was enough to pull out the win and take home the series two games to none.
There will be plenty of time to recap the season, look back at the good, the bad and the ugly, and even to look ahead at what promises to be an offseason of plenty of moves by the time it’s over.
For now, here’s a few observations from game two, a game that the Indians will wind up feeling they should have won, but at the end of the day they really didn’t deserve to win after the amount of mistakes they made.
Pitching - what Pitching?
The strength of the Indians all season long and entering the postseason was supposed to be a pitching staff that was the best in the American League Central.
Instead, their pitching will be the reason they are not playing anymore, as over two days against the Yankees at home their staff allowed an incredible 22 runs, a number no one could have possibly seen coming.
Wednesday night’s pitching woes were cemented by a strike zone that was never truly established, and the result was 13 walks to Yankee batters, a number of which came back to haunt the Indians.
Carlos Carrasco lasted just three innings, allowing four runs on two hits with three walks and six K’s.
An odd rain delay to start the game, and then another one in the first inning hurt Carrasco’s chances to go longer.
“We had a 45 minute rain delay, and that inning he lost his command completely, and he said he was a bit worn out, walked two guys, and at that time we decided to go with Karinchak, something we mapped out,” Sandy Alomar said.
“It was a tough game, I feel like if we don’t go into that rain delay “Cookie” would have been fine, but it was a tough one for him.”
Once Carrasco was gone with the bases loaded and the Indians up 4-1 in the fourth, Alomar brought in hard throwing reliever James Karinchak.
He got to 3-2 on former Indian Gio Urshela, who smacked a 96 mile per hour fastball 432 feet for a grand slam that made it 5-4.
From there it was a back and forth affair that saw New York build a lead of 8-6 going into the bottom of the 7th.
That’s when the Indians yet again rallied, and then took the lead in the 8th, only to see Hand blow it in the 9th.
The leadoff walk killed Hand and you could feel that the momentum of the inning, even with the Indians up one, had already slipped away.
“I felt good warming up, obviously I had the leadoff walk, got ahead of guys but couldn’t put them away, left two pitches up to Gio (Urshela) and (DJ) Lemahieu, I couldn’t hit my spot and they put the bat on it,” Hand said.
To put into perspective how the Indians pitching did in these two games, their soon-to-be Cy Young award winner was clobbered on Tuesday in Shane Bieber, while Wednesday no Indians pitcher could get key outs, and the Yankees just kept the pressure on.
“The team did a great job battling back, all around it was a great ball game, the way that our offense kept picking us up, we were on the short end of the stick there, it was a tough one for sure,” Hand said.
An Emotional Ride
A game that lasted more than five hours with two rain delays, 19 runs and just some incredible back and forth drama - it was playoff baseball that was crushing in the end.
“It just wasn’t our night tonight,” Josh Naylor said.
The Indians offense should get a lot of credit for being in the game, as they put up nine runs on 10 hits, this after many felt they would struggle to push one or two runs across.
Instead, they battled all night, and when they took that lead in the 8th inning on Hernandez’s single, it looked for a little bit anyway that there was going to be a game three.
In the end though, it was the same heartache that Indians fans have had to endure going back to the crushing losses in the World Series in 2016, the ALDS loss in 2017, and then getting swept by Houston in 2018.
“That's an absolute roller coaster of emotions right there, I don’t think you can say we gave up, every at bat, every pitch we were in it, you have to give credit to the other side, that was a fun game to play in and watch,” Jordan Luplow said.
Even going into the bottom of the ninth, there was still hope that for one night this offense was going to be able to get it done, but once Austin Hedges went too far on a check swing, it was evident it was not meant to be.
“Everything we’ve gone through, they fought hard,” Alomar said.
With the changes that will undoubtedly come this offseason, this loss hurts even worse, and it’s tough to think that this team will look anywhere near the same as it did when it left the field on Wednesday night.
“These last two games, they kind of got away, it’s tough, but you can’t change the past now,” Nick Wittgren said.
“That game is the definition of a roller coaster ride right there. That was fun to watch, but it would have been more fun to be playing tomorrow.”
Angry fans will say the Indians as a team choked once again, but in the end, this team had a lot of things to overcome, and at the end of the day they did a solid job of it.
From coaches opting out for health concerns, to losing their manager for most of the season, to two players breaking team rules and the drama that followed, the Indians still won 35 of their 60 games and were the 4th seed in the American League.
They will end this season still with a pitching staff that should be able to help them compete in 2021, and while the offense is likely to be a massive question mark, there will be plenty of time to figure out who all goes and what players the organization, if any, can afford to keep around.
There will be a lot of teams around baseball that will have fiscal issues with the pandemic of 2020, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the free agent market be very different and many teams not have the type of money just to throw around like they may normally do.
It always hurts to fall short, and for this Indians team they will look back and feel they should have at least won this game, but as almost every player who spoke Wednesday night pointed out, it wasn’t meant to be.
“The cards just were not dealt for us to continue,” Delino DeShields said.
“A lot of these guys were in the postseason for the first time, I think getting that experience can go a long way, especially for next year.”
2021 may be another very different season in Major League Baseball, and all of that will be decided as things move along, but for now, the Indians can only sit back and learn from the mistakes of another failed chance in the postseason.
“We got people that opted out, we had protocols that were broken, we had many different obstacles, but this group stayed together,” Alomar said.
“We had an 8-game losing streak, they came out of that, today proved how this team grinds and stays together, you go through 3 months of going through this covid, you want to cash in when you reach the playoffs, but we fell short.”