"It's a Heartache" and Cleveland Indians fans are once again are singing that song after losing game seven in the World Series to the Chicago Cubs 8-7 in ten innings in Cleveland.
The gut crunching loss came after the Indians rallied from deficits of 5-1 and 6-3 paced by a three run eighth inning and a homer by Rajai Davis off the fearsome Aroldis Chapman.
Alas,the rain came,caused a delay and the Indians would allow two runs in the top of the tenth and would only score one in their half to end the series.
Bryan Shaw was the losing pitcher.
See you in April....
1) These might have more negatives than positives,but before I start,I want to acknowledge our team for a great run.
This was a team built around starting pitching that saw late season injury rob them of two of their top three starters and yet took a 103 win team to seven games plus extra innings.
There may be criticism written here,but there will be no shame...
2) This team battled through issues that would have sunk many and I keep reading things that say we'll be back-I'm not so sure.
The starting pitching will still rank with the best when healthy,but I see huge holes at catcher,first base and I believe two outfield bats are truly needed.
I referred to some as this series being like the 1992 NLCS between the Braves and the Pirates-one team looking to be a power for the next ten years and the other watching a narrow window for title contention close.
I don't think the window is closed,but unless the Dolan's are willing spend to add some bats,it might be a narrow crack to slide through...
3) The play that will haunt me most-the tailor made 3-6-3 double play ball to Mike Napoli,who threw high to Francisco Lindor and settled for just a force.
Had that fundamentally simple play been pulled over,the next out,an Addison Russell flyball would have ended the inning,instead it scored a run and the following hitter Willson Contreras doubled home another run.
Two runs handed to the Cubs in a game lost by one...
4) The Indians moxie showed when both Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis scored on one Jon Lester wild pitch.
Pure hustle on the part of Kipnis to score from second,it was that play that began to give me hope...
5) That went away quickly when David Ross,a journeyman catcher that is retiring after this season (a fact that Joe Buck drilled into my head repeatedly over the last few games) off Andrew Miller.
Miller,who seemed more human in this game, left in the next inning and down 6-3 now,that solo homer seemed to just be a score inflator-little did I know that homer would be the run that kept the Cubs in the series..
6) Rajai Davis was a hero in Cleveland for a while with his eighth inning two run homer off Aroldis Chapman that tied the game at 6-6.
Davis would single in the 10th to bring the game to 8-7 before Michael Martinez made the final out of the series.
Had Davis homered a second time,I would wager that Rajai Davis would have never had to buy anything in Northeast Ohio ever again...
7) Davis wasn't perfect in this game as in the earlier note on the double by Willson Contreras,Davis took an awful route on the ball.
I'm not certain that Davis would caught the ball,but a better route might have made it a 50/50 chance..
That cost the Indians another run.Sometimes a play doesn't have to be an actual fielding error to be one in deciding the game...
8) Terry Francona's use of his bullpen was excellent and you can't blame him for the struggles of Andrew Miller in this game,but the move that I disagreed with before it happened was putting Bryan Shaw back into the game after the rain delay.
Considering Shaw would be facing the Cubs 2,3,and 4 hitters (Schwarber,Bryant and Rizzo) off sitting during the Indians ninth and then the delay,I was concerned that Shaw would not be loose enough.
Whether that was the case or not-the result was what I feared-two Cubs runs,but I don't blame Bryan Shaw,I blame the man that put him in that situation.
I realize the Indian bullpen had used their best men,it needed to use its freshest..
9) A play that looked big at the time was the awful throw by Yan Gomes on a stealing attempt in the 9th.The run didn't score,but Yan Gomes showed the issues the Indians have behind the plate.
You have a player getting paid well for three more years (and two option years) to be a defensive liability and hit less than .200.
I doubt the Indians could give Gomes away at this point,but catcher will need to be upgraded if possible,,,,,
10) Same at first base,where Mike Napoli hit 34 homers,but struggled in the waning months and in the playoffs.
Replacing Napoli's power won't be easy,but the rest of his game could be an easy fix.
Napoli outperformed my expectations early,but he too needs to be replaced.
11) An extra outfield bat or even two could be helpful too.
A Michael Brantley return would take care of one bat,but I'm not thrilled with some of the others even though they were passable at times.
Lonnie Chisenhall does enough to give you hope and pull the rug out,I've always seen Tyler Naquin as more of a 4th outfielder than an everyday starter and the others are veteran stopgaps at best.
A few bats could go a long way....
12) The Indians being behind and scrambling all game meant that with the series tying run on base (Rajai Davis) that it all came down to the light hitting Michael Martinez.
The former Hagerstown Sun softly tapped a grounder to end the series and Martinez was the final player on the bench,so Terry Francona had no choice but to let Martinez hit.
When minor moves go on and you read people saying it's just the 25th man etc-you never know when the 25th man could have the season on the line...
13) I noted earlier about Terry Francona's use of the pitching staff throughout the playoffs,but he was forced to use them in such a manner-he had little choice.
Corey Kluber was forced to start and he wasn't at peak level,but he had to start this game.
The one thing I might have done differently came in game six,I might have saved Danny Salazar for game seven since the Cubs were so far ahead.
Salazar might have come in handy in this one..
14) Wrapping up,as much as this hurts and as much as I wanted it-the Cubs are the better team and the Indians fought hard.
The thing I keep seeing is the comparisons to the Cavaliers winning being down 3-1 and the Indians losing the same lead.
The two are apples and oranges-the Warriors were the best team in the history of the NBA and lost.
The Indians were playing the team with the best record in baseball and watched them come to life-two different situations...