CLEVELAND, Ohio – There will be a lot of scary analysis on the Yankees’ elimination of the Indians from the Wild Card playoffs in two games.
The fingers of blame will be pointed in so many directions that some of us may end up using our toes to point to a culprit.
But we come out like a sore thumb.
Think the Tribe opened the series with likely Cy Young Prize winner Shane Bieber on the mound in his home park.
The Indians rested the American League’s first pitcher for the Yankees.
Four shots in his first playoff game, Bieber had allowed two runs. He failed through 4 2/3 innings, bombed for seven runs.
Other things went wrong in that first 12-3 loss to the Yankees, but it started with Bieber.
Now consider the last round of Game 2.
The Indians had a 9-8 lead in the ninth inning.
All-Star Brad Hand was on the mound. He was 16 of 16 in stoppage this season.
Unlike Bieber, Hand wasn’t hit hard. A few balls on the ground in the middle for singles. There was a sharp thump that Hand dropped.
But in the end, Hand gave up two points, the 9-8 lead becoming a 10-9 loss.
DO NOT THROW, DO NOT WIN
Here’s my point, at least when it comes to pitching personnel: The series started with Bieber’s seemingly untouchable departure and ended with the reliable hand able to keep Indians alive in the best-of-series. 3.
Both have failed.
In fact, the tribe’s pitch was a disaster.
The team with the best pitching in baseball in the regular season had an 11.00 ERA in two games against the Yankees. They walked 15 in 18 innings. They served seven circuits.
There are other areas to criticize the Indians in, but the point is, they messed it up, and it was their biggest strength in the regular season that was the glaring weakness.
Carlos Carrasco received a rough deal with the rain delays mismanaged by MLB. At the top of the fourth, Delino DeShields probably should have caught what became a center triple by Aaron Hicks of New York.
But Carrasco then walked the next two hitters to charge the bases. That ended his night after three innings.
Then rookie James Karinchak had a fit, serving a grand slam to former Indian Gio Urshela.
Karinchak had only allowed one homer in the regular season.
It was the first postseason for Bieber and Karinchak. The same goes for rookie Triston McKenzie, who allowed two runs in 1 1/3 inning.
OTHER IMPORTED FACTORS
None of this excuses Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Franmil Reyes.
They combined for a dismal 1 for 23 performance on the field.
It was the first postseason for Reyes, so that’s a factor.
But Santana and Lindor played on the 2016 World Series squad. They were also with the Tribe in the 2017 and 2018 playoffs.
And they were horrible.
Lindor had the only hit, a brace. But he looked lost in many of his eight bats, fanning himself three times. In his last 60 regular season home plate appearances, he’s hitting .188
The All-Star shortstop looked distracted and shaken by the plate.
As for Santana, he was 0 for 8 with three strikeouts. Looked lost. Looks like he’s been through most of the regular season, when he hit .199. It’s like the 2019 All-Star is aging at an alarming rate at 34 or has forgotten how to strike.
The Indians scored three points in the first game. Probably not good enough to win, but three innings generally kept things close with Bieber on the mound.
In Game 2, they kept coming back. They scored nine points. Josh Naylor and Jordan Luplow have had great success.
We can talk later about what all this means for Indians in 2021 in terms of jobs and budgets.
Conclusion for the playoffs: The reason was that the pitch fell apart when the Indians needed it most.
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