Look, it’s one, almost two in the morning. Either you watched this game and you don’t need me to tell you what happened, or you didn’t and you should never, ever dig into the events of September 29 - October 1, 2020, for as long as you shall live.
Tonight’s wild ride of a game not only ended the Indians’ 2020 season in heartbreaking fashion, but it also might have ended an era. Or several eras. Austin Hedges’ checked swing was likely the last moment of Francisco Lindor’s time as a Cleveland Indian. And, hell, the name “Indians” is probably gone as well. There will be a lot of difficult decisions made this offseason, and a lot of self-reflection will have to be done up and down the Cleveland organization.
It already feels like an eternity ago that Carlos Carrasco looked great to lead off the game and the Indians put four on the board before the rain started pouring and the game had to be delayed an extra 30 minutes for the clouds to pass. Remember José Ramírez hitting a double to score Francisco Lindor and Cesar Hernandez to tie the game? That actually happened tonight. Technically speaking, last night.
This game felt endless — not only because it was the longest game in MLB history, but because it felt like the slow death of my favorite baseball team. Even as they rallied back multiple times there was something fatalistic in it. Maybe it’s just this weird season and lack of fans messing with everything, or maybe I’m just sitting on my couch alone in the dark at 1:28 a.m. being sad about a baseball game in the middle of a global pandemic.
Whatever the reason, it just felt weird. A walk-off would have fixed that, of course. Because walk-offs fix everything. But it never came.
Several moments throughout this game seemed to point towards hope. José’s double, Oscar Mercado making it to first base on a swinging third strike that got by Gary Sanchez, Sandy Alomar’s unconscionable decision to pinch-hit Jordan Luplow for Josh Naylor somehow working out, Delino DeShields actually making a good read on a ball and going from second to home on a blooper. But the end result also felt set in stone. This was never the Indians’ year.
More in-depth analysis of this game will be coming for sure, but for now, the prevailing thought is that they didn’t give up. Even as the pitching, which has been the only thing carrying this team through two extremely weird months of baseball, completely fell apart and walked everybody in sight, they didn’t quit.
There was no reason for this game to be anything but a 6-4 stinker where the Yankees’ initial rally in the fourth was the killer. But it wasn’t. So I guess for that I can be thankful.
This game will serve as a learning experience for many, including James Karinchak and Triston McKenzie, who both looked rough in their postseason debuts. Even for Josh Naylor, who could not have done more to help the Indians win this series but was able to swallow his pride and cheer harder than anyone when Luplow stole his glory and hit a double to tie the game. It should be a learning experience for Sandy Alomar as well, wherever he is and whatever he’s doing next year.
For anyone who stayed up and powered through this game through the end — for anyone who powered through this season to the end — thank you for being here to cushion the blow and making it that much more tolerable.