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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Indians haunted by failure

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians’ surprising season won’t be remembered for six months of stirring comebacks, scintillating streaks or personal milestones.

Unfair or not, one agonizing week erased it all.

With the AL playoffs again in their sights, and just as September turned to October, the Indians simply collapsed.

“It’s disappointing,” third baseman Aaron Boone said. “We were so close.”

Needing to win their home finale and hoping the New York Yankees could win at Boston to force a one-game tiebreaker with the Red Sox for the AL wild card, Cleveland lost 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox yesterday.

The loss concluded a disastrous final seven days for the Indians (93-69), who dropped six of their last seven games and barely missed the playoffs. The defeat also handed the wild card to the Red Sox – a postseason spot that appeared reserved for Cleveland just a few days ago.

“We played so well for so long, we were bound to hit a tough stretch,” Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia said in a somber Cleveland clubhouse. “It just happened in the last week of the season.”

After Grady Sizemore bounced to second for the final out, several Indians lingered in the dugout, simply staring out to the field as the sellout crowd gave the team one last standing ovation to acknowledge a season few thought possible.

On his way to the dugout, Sizemore, one of the Indians’ rising young stars, tossed his helmet and yanked out his jersey before being stopped by Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen.

“I told Sizemore, ‘Keep playing kid, you and your team had a great season,'” Guillen said. “He’s a player who is great for baseball. The bad news is that I’ve got to face him.”

Rookie Brandon McCarthy (3-2) took a shutout into the sixth, Jermaine Dye homered and the White Sox tuned up for their first-round series with Boston. Game 1 is scheduled for Tuesday in Chicago.

The White Sox (99-63) had already clinched the AL Central by the time they arrived on Friday for a series that was mostly meaningless for them, and many wondered how hard they would play with their fate determined.

On Friday, they clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 3-2 win in 13 innings. On Saturday, they held on for a 4-3 win, and Sunday they completed a three-game sweep to finish 14-5 – 9-1 at Jacobs Field – against the Indians.

“We had so much stuff thrown at us, but once we clinched, we relaxed and beat a very good team,” Aaron Rowand said.

Cleveland, on the other hand, fell apart.

Entering last Sunday’s game at Kansas City, the Indians were 1 1/2 games ahead in the wild-card race and 1 1/2 behind the free-falling White Sox, who led the division by 15 games on Aug. 1 and were on the verge of an historic collapse.

But beginning with a 5-4 loss to the Royals, a defeat that was sealed when Sizemore lost a ninth-inning fly ball in the Missouri sunshine, the Indians played more like the team that started 9-14 in April, not the one that went 39-18 since July 31.

“I don’t know what happened this last week,” Travis Hafner said.

Cleveland fans will look back and remember the clutch hits that never came despite countless chances in the past few days. The Indians went 7-for-56 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the final seven games – five of them one-run losses.

“We expected to win today. We expected to win the whole last week,” outfielder Casey Blake said. “When we really needed the runs, they were hard to come by.”

‘#160;

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