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Tribe Notes

Astros 11, Indians 3: Tribe's season ends in disappointing fashion for second straight year

  • ALDS-Astros-Indians-Baseball-1

    Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen waits for the Astros' George Springer to circle the bases after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning Monday at Progressive Field.

    AP

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CLEVELAND — Well, that escalated and ended quickly — again.

A season that began with legitimate World Series dreams came to another early nightmarish postseason end for the Indians, who were drubbed 11-3 by the Astros on Monday afternoon at Progressive Field and were eliminated in the first round for the second straight year.

After losing in five games to the Yankees in the Division Series last season, it was even worse this time around for Cleveland, which was swept out of the playoffs by the defending world champion Astros in front of a sellout crowd of 37,252 fans.

The Indians didn’t hit — six runs and a .144 batting average over three games — and for the most part didn’t pitch, either, posting a 7.20 ERA.

That’s a recipe for defeat whether you’re playing the lowly Kansas City Royals in a weak Central Division regular-season game or the defending World Series champions.

“They outplayed us,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said of the Astros, who scored 21 runs, batted .327 and owned a 2.00 ERA. “They outpitched us, they outhit us, they ran the bases better than us. Hat’s off to Houston. They’ve got a great ballclub and you’ve got to respect that. You’ve gotta respect that they came out here and they did what they had to do. They played way better than us the whole (series). They deserved to win.”

“They beat us in every area of the game,” said right-hander Trevor Bauer, who took the loss after relieving starter Mike Clevinger and allowing three runs on four hits over 11⁄3 innings. “They’re tough, man. They keep coming. We haven’t played our best and I’m not sure they played their best either, but they played much better than we did. The better team won.”

Clevinger didn’t shoulder any blame for the latest loss, keeping the Indians in the game through five innings of his first career postseason start.

The right-hander allowed a run on three hits and struck out nine, accounting for the highest total ever by a Cleveland pitcher in his postseason debut.

The right-hander allowed a run on three hits and struck out nine, accounting for the highest total ever by a Cleveland pitcher in his postseason debut.

“I fully expected that coming in,” Bauer said of Clevinger’s performance. “He lives for a big moment. He’s very confident that he’s going to go out there and give us a chance and he did.

“That’s on me. Coming in with a 2-1 lead and it was my job to get us to the finish line and I didn’t do that.”

The game began to unravel for the Indians in the seventh inning with Bauer on the mound.

After working a scoreless sixth in place of Clevinger, Bauer allowed a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter Tony Kemp, then threw errantly on a pick-off attempt that allowed Kemp to advance to second.

George Springer followed with a swinging bunt single and Jose Altuve’s fielder’s choice grounder tied the game at 2.

Bauer got a grounder back to the mound on the following hitter, Alex Bregman, but threw wide of the second base bag for his second error of the inning.

Yuri Gurriel walked to load the bases and Marwin Gonzalez doubled down the left-field line to give Houston the lead for good at 4-2.

The Astros broke it open with a six-run eighth inning, the final three scoring on a homer from Carlos Correa off Brad Hand that sent the hometown fans to the exits.

Cleveland’s offensive woes continued, but they were able to grab an early lead for the second time in the series, manufacturing the game’s first run in the third inning off Houston starter Dallas Keuchel.

Yan Gomes laced a line-drive single to center and Jason Kipnis lined a base hit to right to start the inning, both moving up on Francisco Lindor’s sacrifice bunt.

Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly to center scored Gomes.

After the Astros tied the game on the first of two solo homers from Springer in the fifth, the Indians responded in the bottom of the inning on Lindor’s two-out solo shot.

Cleveland did little after that, managing only three hits over the final four innings and scoring once in the ninth on a wild pitch.

“They pitched very well. They executed,” Lindor said of the Astros. “They did very, very well. We live and learn.”

Outside of Lindor, who hit .364 (4-for-11) with both of his team’s homers and two of four RBIs, there was little production out of a lineup full of All-Stars.

No one struggled more than Jose Ramirez, who went hitless in 11 at-bats and is 2-for-31 with one RBI in his last eight postseason games.

“Jose’s had a tough last month,” manager Terry Francona said. “When you’re not feeling great at the plate, this isn’t exactly the recipe to get out of it, facing (Justin) Verlander and (Gerrit) Cole and those guys. They’re pretty good.”

Since winning Game 6 of the 1997 World Series, the Indians have lost nine straight elimination games, the longest streak in the major league history.

They’ve qualified for the playoffs in four of Francona’s six years as manager, but Cleveland’s 70-year world championship drought lives on.

“I’m glad we’ve had a chance,” Francona said of his team’s postseason appearances. “If you keep giving yourself a chance, at some point, you believe you’ll break through. We haven’t been good enough to this point. It is frustrating for sure. I think there’s a lot of teams that would like to be in this situation, but when you come up short, you take stock and try to do better.”

“It’s tough to swallow, but you’ve got to keep grinding, keep it going for next year,” Clevinger said. “We definitely still have that core of a team that we know is going to be here and we know we’re going to be able to compete. We were a special group. We just didn’t really put the pieces together when we needed to.”

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.


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