By the eighth inning of tonight’s game, I was starting to feel pretty dejected.  It had been coming on slowly, inning by inning, missed opportunity by missed opportunity, up until that moment.  I was still standing, still cheering from my seat in right-center field, but I had the slow sinking feeling of a balloon slowly deflating.  At that point, I noticed some commotion in the section next to me.  A fight had broken out, likely between people who had far surpassed their alcohol tolerance level and who were probably just about as frustrated with the game as I was.  Nobody seemed to be stopping the fight though, it’s like there were no ushers or police to be seen in the area.  It just kept going and going – at one point a fan leaned over the outfield railing and tried to get the attention of one of the police officers on the field.  Still nobody came, and still the fight seemed to drag on.  One of the guys involved was so drunk, he could hardly stand up…it seemed like it would be easy enough to detain someone who could hardly stand, yet it never seemed to happen.  Oddly enough, it served as a weird metaphor for this game in my mind.  The Indians had some fight in them – they were getting hits and getting runners on base.  Yet there was never that one person to step in and take charge of the situation.  It seemed like they had Alex Cobb staggering on the mound at one point, yet still couldn’t neutralize him.  Just like the fight in the next section over, they let Cobb remain standing and remain in the game.

I think what disappointed me the most about tonight’s loss is that the Indians went out with a whimper, not with a bang.  After the drama and excitement of the prior 10 games, a thrilling end to the season to propel them into the wild card game, tonight was just anti-climactic and dejecting.  I said continuously that I just wanted one playoff game at home, and I would be thankful for that.  And I am…trust me, I enjoyed tonight even if the outcome of the game wasn’t what I wanted to see.  To see Progressive Field not only full to the rafters, but with a tuned-in, amped-up crowd was very exciting.  After so many games this season of having almost an entire section to myself, it was nice to see people in the seats and having a good time.  And that was what was frustrating about tonight too – even after the Delmon Young home run, the crowd stayed excited.  Even after Tampa Bay went out to a 3-0 lead, the crowd stayed pretty excited.  When everyone really seemed to deflate was when the Indians would get themselves in a position to get back in the game, and they would stumble and fail.  Asdrubal Cabrera’s double play to end the bases-loaded one-out threat in the bottom of the fourth took a noticeable toll on everyone’s spirits.  Then when everyone started to get back into the game, the Indians turned right around in the bottom of the fifth and blew a two-on, nobody out scenario.

What really killed the Indians tonight was that the guys they needed to carry them – the big three at the top of the lineup – utterly failed them.  Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Jason Kipnis went a combined 0 for 12, and a combined 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.  Asdrubal Cabrera was the only other person to put up a goose egg in the lineup; he went 0 for 4, and 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.  When I first saw Lonnie Chisenhall in the lineup tonight, I thought “Oh…Okay.”  Terry Francona had been going with Mike Aviles much more often lately, but I could see him wanting to try Chisenhall with a right-handed pitcher on the mound.  The decision paid off – Chisenhall was one of the stars of the night.  He went 3 for 4 and made a nice defensive play at third (even though he also had an error at third later in the game).  The bottom of the lineup in general did a nice job tonight – Yan Gomes and Chisenhall would set the table, and the big three at the top of the lineup would fall flat.  The Indians actually outhit the Rays, but the stranded nine on base, and went just 2 for 9 as a team with runners in scoring position (the two hits with RISP went to Michael Brantley and Chisenhall).  I know that Cobb was a very tough pitcher, but there were opportunities available to take control of this game.  That’s what stings.

There was debate over whether or not Danny Salazar could handle the big stage, and while he wasn’t spectacular it certainly wasn’t a disaster.  If your offense isn’t going to score you any runs, it doesn’t matter if you allow one run or twenty, you’re still going to lose the game.  The bullpen did a nice job after Salazar left the game, and held Tampa Bay to just the three runs until they added a fourth in the top of the ninth inning.

So you may have noticed that I didn’t completely finish my story about the fight during the game.  I never saw any type of authority figure come to take charge of the situation in the end (unless I missed it once the game started back up).  Eventually Slider waddled over to the area, and was trying to diffuse the situation and break up the fight.  Maybe they should have tried to pinch hit for Cabrera in the fourth with Slider?  He seemed to be the only person that got results, that I saw anyway.  I’m watching Slider shaking his belly at a bunch of angry drunks, frustrated and disappointed that this game hadn’t turned out like I hoped.  Then I notice on the edge of the crowd watching the fight, a kid wearing a Kevin Slowey jersey.  The first thing that popped into my mind was “Wait, they actually bothered to make Indians Kevin Slowey jerseys?”  Then “Wait, someone actually paid money for a Kevin Slowey jersey?”  Then I got to thinking – Kevin Slowey was considered a viable pitching option as recent as last season.  We’ve come from a point where we were hoping that Kevin Slowey could be our savior after Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez got arrested, to watching a wild card playoff game in Cleveland in just a year’s time.  So even though this is disappointing, and it didn’t end the way any of us would have liked, you really have to step back and smile about what happened here this season.  Playoff baseball came back to Cleveland for the first time in six years, if only for a night.  Not as much as we would have liked, but still more than 20 other teams in major league baseball got to experience.  We showed up, we cheered hard, and we have a lot to be thankful for.  I know I’m already excited for spring training.


  • Chris says:

    It was a great season and even more fun to watch you gatta love the character of this team… far as the fight goes Im i sure it will end up on you tube and/or espn and they will use a few drunken idiots to generalize an entire fan base like they always to to Cleveland sports fans

  • DaveR says:

    I texted my buddy that it was over after the Cabrera choke, but secretly hoped there was still some magic left. Not to be.

    Anyways, the Indians had a great season and you know Francona will have a full off-season to put his stamp on the team. The holes don’t look impossible to fix compared to what they needed last year. Salazar and the pitching will be served by this playoff experience. I think we can all be sure Perez is gone.

  • Brent says:

    If you really stop and think about it, Indians fans really got the excitement of 11 playoff games this season. The last 10 games of the regular season were just as important/exciting as a playoff game in the minds of Indians fans. I had such a great time following the team then, as I would have if they had made that same run in the actual playoffs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wish that run would have been in the playoffs, but that run of 10 games, nonetheless, was a thrill ride. I think it is amazing what Tito and the team was able to do this season, and I, as a fan, really appreciate the entertainment that was presented to me. This may not happen next year or for many years to come. I would take this season, outcome and all, over most cleveland seasons in recent memory.

  • EvilleMikeD says:

    This is all I could think of after the game:

    Better to have been no-hit or outslugged by Rays than to have had the “top” players on the team let us down when we needed them the most. Swisher has been great for the clubhouse but we really needed him to break out of his postseason slump last night. When he came to bat at the end everyone but Swisher knew he was swinging too hard and would strike out.

    Games like this kill the enthusiam of fairweather fans who won’t show up like that again. Hope I’m wrong. I will be down in SW Indiana (Cardinals and Reds country) listening to Hammy for 162 next season regardless. Really was a great season despite how it ended.

  • Tom says:

    This is a really great write-up, Stephanie. The final paragraph really sums up my thoughts on the night. Wish we could have taken this one, but all in all I’m not too bummed as I truly didn’t think we’d make it this far. Thanks for a great season, Tribe!

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Great recap, Stephanie. I had cautiously optimistic hopes for this season, and Francona’s Indians exceeded those hopes. I’m disappointed, but damn I enjoyed the ride.

  • shaun says:

    gosh darn him, you know swish was trying so friggin hard to deliver the magic for us all that he went down swingin…and without being a player, i think thats something all of us can never really understand and thats the feeling of carrying the weight of expectation. i think part of tito’s responsibility was that he needed to reinforce the need to get the singles to get back in the game. swinging for the fences would be electric but unfortunately is also a recipe for a quick out.

    • Drew says:

      Well said. I made the same comment when I saw that AB. We have a lot of good to look forward to for the upcoming season. But I hope the Indians can lock up Kipnis, Brantley, and Smith with deals this off-season. They will be need to come back. Ubaldo and Pure Rage are gone and Kazmir is likely out too. So that leaves a rotation of Masterson, Salazar, Kluber, McAllister, TBD. It would be awesome if the Indians sign Ubaldo or Kaz, but they will be pricey.

      25-Man roster for 2014:
      SP – Kluber, Masterson, McAllister, Salazar, TBD
      BP – Shaw, Allen, Rzepczynski, TBD, TBD, TBD, TBD
      INF – Swisher, Kipnis, Cabrera, Chisenhall, Aviles, TBD
      C – Santana, Gomes
      OF – Bourn, Brantley, Stubbs, Raburn, TBD

      That leaves 7 holes to be filled. Let’s be optimistic and say that Smith and Kazmir come back and that Pestano returns to his previous form. That leaves 4 spots and I feel much better this year with who could fill those spots than I did 1 year ago.

      • shaun says:

        i’m bearish on jimenez and kazmir. i think they’ll be undone with a new/big contract.

        • Drew says:

          Probably correct, Shaun. But Kaz could be had for a contract similar to what the Indians paid for Brett Myers or what Royals paid for Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie got 3 years/$25M after having a strong 2nd half in 2012. MLB Trade Rumors expects Kaz to sign a 2-year $16M deal this off-season.

  • Swift says:

    It was a great ride, up till last night, but . Once more, go Cavs, go Browns, wait till next year.

    I hope the management continues to be active in this post season too. We are only a couple of pieces from a really great team.

    Go Tribe!

    • Swift says:

      The first sentence should read “… up till last night, but (sniff).”

      The software doesn’t like pointy brackets.

  • adam says:

    I also thought it was over when the bases were loaded and we couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield…… don’t have that many LOBS and win a game. I really hope they can find an Impact bat to either play RF or 1b which would put swish at RF……also move perez and Cabrera…….let Aviles or Ramirez play SS until Lindor is ready and use that money for a big bat and an Arm

  • GARY BRETZ says:

    The Indians are a Cleveland team right? They are supposed to lose and rip the fans’ hearts out. There is only one person who can stop this trend and he’s in South Beach.

  • The Doctor says:

    undone by the same bums that deep sixed us all season – bourn, swisher, and cabrera. i really hope we’ve seen the last of cabrera in an indians uniform.

    • Alex says:

      now hold on. Swish was on FIRE during september. Let’s not be unfair to him.

    • Brent says:

      Swish’s clubhouse energy was definitely a contributing factor which allowed them to get into the playoffs. You can’t undervalue that. He may not have the best bat, but his infectious positive energy is second to none.

  • Mike says:

    As depressing as the game was last night (after realizing after 4 innings that we probably weren’t going to score) This season has been a blast to follow the Tribe. They weren’t always easy to watch, and they certainly had their ups and downs. But the season has made being a fan fun again. I honestly didn’t expect much more than a .500 record this year. To even make it this far into the season and still be relevant has been amazing. I hope this is a building block for next year and not a repeat of ’07 where we fall off the face of the Earth. We really are only a few pieces away from being a dominate team.

  • Cy says:

    Great recap Stephanie. I felt the same way during the game. Cleveland had a chance to show the baseball world that it was legitimate, but to anyone who didn’t watch the game it will look like Cleveland got dominated. But the reality is Cleveland played better than the Rays but the best players on the team never delivered the hits we needed. Disappointing finish but there’s promise for the future, assuming management doesn’t ship off the stars a la Sabathia, Lee, etc…

  • BeardedWop says:

    I can’t lie, I was pretty dejected by the 6th inning. I kept telling myself that I wanted at least one run by the 6th, and we had chance after chance… Once we failed in two separate occasions to get on the board, especially when we had runners in positions with one out, I felt the writing was on the wall. However, being an Indians fan predisposes me to having hope when there is seemingly none. I experienced a myriad of emotions at the end of the game: anger, frustration, laughter (of course this happens), and finally a little perspective. I really enjoyed the perspective the Slowey jersey gave you. Playoff baseball in October was just a dream and never would I have thought we were one year away from competing in the central, or making it into the playoffs!

    My hashtags all year have been #rolltribe and #franconaforever. I will be wearing my Tribe hat for the remainder of the playoffs.

  • Sean Porter says:

    If was a frustrating night for sure, but it made me think back to a game I went to last season, sometime in August.

    The Indians were in the midst of a record month of ineptitude, and we were in the process of blowing a late lead in horrific fashion. I’m sitting down by the left field foul pole, and who do I see sitting by himself but Bobby DiBiasio, the Indians PR Director.

    I’ve always liked Bobby D, and part of me wanted to sit down next to him and just shoot the breeze, but I didn’t, because I couldn’t imagine the exchange ending without me telling him in no uncertain terms that his bosses (the Dolans) were doing a fine job of running the franchise into the ground.

    To think that was only 13 or so months ago is amazing.

  • Josh miller says:

    What people forget,is that ten game win streak was all against teams that were at the bottom of the league! they and a dismal record against teams that were above .500. As were the Rays. But it is something to build on!

  • Jeremy says:

    Another great article that perfectly summarizes the feelings of all Indians fans. All day yesterday, the text messages and emails and facebook posts from friends sent my phone’s notification ringer off every couple of minutes. After the end of the 5th innings, the notifications all but ceased; and I think everyone knew what was going to happen. It WAS a great summer, I mean meaningful games all year and a home playoff game to boot. Tough pill to swallow when I just purchased ALDS tickets the other day and was absolutely jacked to see another playoff game at the Jake. You know, Nick Camino asked whether this team was a sustaining force or a flash in the pan? He talked at lengths about the 2007 team, the high expectations heading into 2008, and the ultimate inability to fulfill any of them. I don’t know how this team will perform next year, I just know I had a fun time following them this summer.

  • Tribe Fan in San Diego says:

    In hind site, I wish we had actually lost one of those 10 games and had to play on Monday. Having Mon and Tues off may have cooled our momentum a little bit, while TB got to keep theirs.

    It’s easy to be upset and fall into the normal Cleveland dejected fan mindset. However, who really thought we would get this far this year? It was a great season, and I had a blast watching many of their games. We have a lot of great players who will be back next year. Tito and the gang will add some more.

    Cleveland had baseball in October!

    • Brent says:

      Having time off didn’t effect the Cardinals last night…just saying. I think our big dogs just tried too hard each and every time up and were not letting the game come to them.

  • bondservant says:

    Not an Indians fan, but was excited to see teams like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City competing so well this year. Congrats to the Indians for a great season!

  • Gvl Steve says:

    It was good to see the core players sitting together in silent solidarity, watching Tampa Bay celebrate the win. They looked genuinely mad and disgusted that they had been beaten. Tampa Bay really showboated too. Hopefully our guys use that as motivation to get even better next year.