Maybe the Cleveland Indians should change their name to the Cleveland Imploders after another dismal playoff showing. The Indians got swept by the New York Yankees in their three-game wild card matchup. They looked overmatched by a team that was coming into the playoffs on fumes. The pitchers looked out of sorts and they even had some defensive miscues to go along with a streaky offense. Coming into the series everyone and their mother knew the Indians were only going to go as far as their pitching staff could carry them and unfortunately one day into October and their 2020 season is over.
This series brought to mind the 2017 Yankees series collapse or even worse the 2018 ALDS against the Houston Astros, where the Indians didn’t look like they should be on the same field as the Astros. Shane Bieber looked lost at times in Game One. Two hitters into the game and the Indians were already down two to nothing. Bieber tried to battle, but the Yankees hitters had a game plan and it worked. They laid off his devastating curveball down low and forced Bieber to make tough pitches. He struggled with his feel and his command and this led to Bieber’s worst outing of the season: 4.2 IP, 7H, 2BB, 7ER (espn.com). The lone bright spot for the Indians was Josh Naylor who went 4/4 with a homer and double off Gerrit Cole. The one big question was why did Sandy Alomar stick with Bieber for so long? This was a short series and every game needed to be treated as a must-win.
Game Two started with a bang for the Indians. They had a favorable matchup with Carlos Carrasco going against Masahiro Tanaka and it looked to be going their way. The Indians jumped on Tanaka in the first scoring four runs to give themselves a nice cushion. Carrasco pitched well till the fourth inning when he ran into trouble and loaded the bases. Sandy Alomar made the curious decision to bring in the rookie James Karinchak and he proceeded to give up a grand slam to ex-Indian Gio Urshela to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. The Indians and Yankees traded blows into the top of the ninth. The Indians were up 9-8 with their closer Brad Hand on the hill. Though Hand had struggled at times this year he was still perfect in save opportunities coming into the game. Hand fell into his usual trouble but was unable to work out of it as the Yankees added two runs to take a 10-9 lead. Aroldis Chapman would then shut the Indians down in the bottom of the ninth to seal the series sweep for the Yankees.
The Yankees were the better team. That much was obvious. Their hitters worked the count against the Tribe pitchers and when they weren’t scoring runs they made the Tribe’s pitchers work for each out. Their pitchers though roughed up at times maintained calm and made big pitches when it mattered most. The Indians hitters had some success, but it was sandwiched between bad at-bats with some hitters looking lost the entire series. Bieber and the rest of the staff showed their inexperience as they struggled to make big pitches and contain the Yankees offense. Throw in some uncharacteristic defensive mistakes along with several questionable managerial decisions and this series brought to light how unprepared the Indians looked for postseason baseball. The roster wasn’t good enough and the championship window is now officially closed. The Indians head into an off-season that will see the roster change dramatically and not for the better. Wait till next year is what many will say, but realistically Indians fans will be waiting for several years as they try to rebuild from this implosion.