CLEVELAND, Ohio – In February, the Indians held a team meeting in Goodyear, Ariz. They talked about all the things teams talk about at the start of the season. Most of all they talked about being the last team standing at the end of the season.
That would be last team standing as in winning the World Series. A lofty goal, to be sure, but not so lofty for a team that reached Game 7 of the World Series last year.
The goal will not be reached. The Indians were eliminated from that quest Wednesday night when the wild-card Yankees beat them, 5-2, in a winner-take-all Game 5 of the AL Division Series at Progressive Field. It is the second time in less than a year that the Indians have been eliminated from the postseason on their home ground.
The Indians won the first two games of the ALDS before losing three straight. It is the first time they’ve lost three straight since July 30 through Aug. 1.
Corey Kluber, who won 18 games as the ace of the top rotation in the AL during the regular season, struggled for his second start in the ALDS. He allowed homers in consecutive at-bats to shortstop Didi Gregorius to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead they never relinquished.
Gregorius came into Game 5 with one hit in the series. He had three hits in his first three at-bats on Wednesday night. He homered with two out in the first off Kluber’s 1-2 pitch for a 1-0 lead. In the third, Gregorius hit a 0-1 pitch from Kluber into the right field seats for a 3-0 lead. Brett Gardner opened the inning with a single.
Gregorius didn’t hit them a long way, 375 and 378 feet, but he hit them far enough. He had 25 homers during the regular season, but had been rendered mute by Tribe pitching in the postseason until Game 5.
The Indians had no answer for CC Sabathia through the first four innings. He retired six straight and 12 of 13 batters. Eight of those outs came on strikeouts.
The Tribe’s offense, held to three runs in losing Games 3 and 4 at Yankee Stadium, finally reached Sabathia…