Tom Williams: Indians did everything but end their drought
As the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame City is well aware, you can’t always get what you want.
Despite a Comeback for the Ages, the Cleveland Indians were unable to stop the Chicago Cubs from capturing their first World Series in 108 years.
This one is going to sting for a quite a while even though Wednesday’s Game 7 more than lived up to the hype.
What’s unfortunate is that the new leader for longest drought is Cleveland, which last won it all in 1948. Somehow the Indians deserve better after pushing the Cubs to the limit in Game 7’s 8-7 heartbreaker.
In the fifth inning, the Indians trailed 5-1. Then in the eighth, the deficit was 6-3.
Magic struck when the Indians scored three times after closer Aroldis Chapman took over.
Still it wasn’t enough. After a 17-minute rain delay before the 10th inning, the Cubs quickly scored twice off reliever Bryan Shaw.
The Indians got one of those runs back in their final at-bat with Rajai Davis’s RBI single with two outs. But the magic dissolved when Michael Martinez grounded out to end Cubs fans’ misery.
Indians fans should hold their chins up. It hurts, but their team did just about everything but win it all. The monster drought appeared to be over back in the fifth inning.
Not exactly. The Indians roared back — well maybe roar isn’t the right word when two runs come in on a wild pitch that bounced off catcher David Ross’ mask.
But it’s appropriate for how the Indians decimated Chapman in the eighth inning, scoring three times with two outs to tie the game at 6.
Brandon Guyer delivered the first blow against Chapman with an RBI double. Then Davis crushed a two-run homer that caused Progressive Field to explode with joy from fans who had watched much of the game in stunned silence.
It was a moment to treasure, but it might get lost in the gloom of the finale. Davis was playing because Indians manager Terry Francona benched rookie Tyler Naquin after a rough night Tuesday in Game 6. Davis made the most of it.
The Indians almost won despite a tough outing by ace Corey Kluber. Before the series began, Francona adjusted his pitching rotation to place his starters on short rest so Kluber could start Game 7.
Kluber was lights out in Games 1 and 4. He struggled this time, giving way to Andrew Miller in the fifth inning after allowing four runs.
The Indians were up against a formidable opponent. After Cubs second baseman Javier Baez made two errors in the first three innings, he homered to lead off the fifth to chase Kluber. Ross — playing in his final game — bounced back from the wild pitch that began the Indians’ rally with a solo home run an inning later to make it 6-3.
Since the Indians won in 1948, the franchise has endured its share of hard luck. Wednesday’s loss joins the list:
In 1954, the Indians had the best record in baseball but were swept by the New York Giants.
Forty-one years later after plenty of bad baseball, the Indians’ fierce hitting attack was no match for Atlanta Braves aces Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.
In 1997, the Indians were crushed when the 5-year-old Florida Marlins rallied in the bottom of the ninth and won in 11.
In 2007, the Indians had a 3-1 lead on the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, then dropped three straight. The Red Sox went on to sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.
What Indians fans should remember is how no one expected this, especially when outfielder Michael Brantley missed most of the season. A World Series return soon is not out of the question.
But for now, it hurts.
Once again, Indians fans can’t get no satisfaction.
Tom Williams is a sportswriter at The Vindicator. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @Williams_Vindy.