And just like that, the dream is dead.
There will be no end to the curse or parade down Euclid Avenue. The Indians lost to the Rays on Wednesday night by a score 4-0, ending their season and sending the 43,000+ home devastated. That’s not to say the Indians didn’t have their chances. Numerous run scoring opportunities presented themselves throughout the night only the Indians could never come up with that one key hit to break things open. In the end it was a frustrating way to end a season, but oh what a season it was.
Danny Salazar took the mound for the Indians to start the game. He lasted only four innings and allowed three runs on four hits and three walks. He also struck out four Rays on the evening, but the majority of those came early on. Salazar started off strong by throwing upper 90′s heat. He even reached triple digits on several pitches. Unfortunately, it was his fastball and his subsequent abandonment of it that led to problems.
On the first pitch of the third inning, Delmon Young put the Rays on the board with authority. He smacked Salazar’s first pitch fastball 400 feet into the left field bleachers to put the Rays up 1-0. With that one swing of the bat, Young completely shifted the tide for the game. The crowd, electric and on top of its game to start, suddenly became passive. Almost as if they knew what was going to happen.
The following inning would be even worse. With runners at the corners and two out, Desmond Jennings hit a sharp grounder down the third base line and just past the diving effort of third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Both runners came around to score, putting the Rays up 3-0 and awakening all the ghosts of Cleveland sports past.
Of course, It didn’t help matter much at all that the Rays’ starter, Alex Cobb, was absolutely fantastic. He lasted 6.2 innings and shut out the Indians in the process despite allowing eight hits and a walk. They had no answer for him as he continually started the Indians off with first pitch strikes and beautifully missed his full arsenal of pitches.
But as previously mentioned, the Indians had more than their fair share of opportunities to claw their way back into the game.The Indians put together rallies in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth innings, but at no point could they bring even a single runner around to score. The most egregious of which occurred in the fourth. After loading the bases with one out, Asdrubal Cabrera stepped to the plate and grounded into the inning ending 3-6-1 double play. At that point you just knew that Wednesdy wasn’t meant to be for the Indians.
In the fifth, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Jason Kipnis were retired in order following hits by Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall. In the seventh, the Indians brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Bourn and Swisher, both of whom were retired to end the threat. Finally, in the eighth, Ryan Raburn struck out with Carlos Santana sitting on base to end the inning. It would be the last runner the Indians would be able to get on base the remainder of the game.
The Rays would add a fourth run in the top of the ninth off of Cody Allen. An error by Lonnie Chisenhall followed by a tough play at first by Nick Swisher led to the run. No one wanted to say it at the time, but it was more than apparent that the end of the line was near. In addition to Allen, Terry Francona also called upon Marc Rzepczynski, Bryan Shaw (who continued his dominance), Justin Masterson, and Joe Smith to get critical outs as the Indians attempted to hold on for dear life.
However, the combination or Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, and Fernando Rodney closed out the game for the Rays. Their 2.1 innings of near flawless pitching helped secure the victory for the Rays and sent the Indians sulking back to the clubhouse. As the Rays celebrated on the Indians home field, one couldn’t help but feel the sense of sadness as they looked on, eyes glazed over, shocked in stunned silence.
And with that, the Indians will take the time to properly digest the events that transpired, but know that they will get back on the horse and move towards improving this team as soon as possible.