CLEVELAND — Perhaps we always knew it would be a sad ending, but this one certainly hurts a little extra.
The Indians were eliminated from the postseason Wednesday following a 10-9 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series. The Tribe blew a four-run lead early and a one-run lead in the ninth inning, with Brad Hand blowing his first save of the year before giving up a loss.
The offense uncharacteristically played well, with Jose Ramirez and Jordan Luplow among those coming up with big hits. Cesar Hernandez appeared to put the Indians ahead for good with a bloop RBI single in the eighth.
But Hand struggled from the get-go when he came on for the save, loading the bases with nobody out before Gary Sanchez tied the game with a sacrifice fly. With two gone, DJ LeMahieu shot a single up the middle for what would eventually be the game-winning run, as Aroldis Chapman shut Cleveland down in the bottom of the ninth.
The Indians' World Series championship drought now extends to 73 years, the longest in Major League Baseball. The club has also lost eight straight postseason games dating back to 2017, a slide that began in that year's brutal ALDS loss to these same Yankees.
What follows is an inning-by-inning love blog of Wednesday's action, with the most recent plays and developments closest to the top. 3News will have full analysis throughout the evening.
Bottom: The Indians got a runner on with two out in the ninth following a wild pitch on a strikeout, but Aroldis Chapman struck out pinch-hitter Austin Hedges to end it, and the Tribe has been swept. The Yankees will face the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
Top: Brad Hand had a chance to nail down a huge Indians win, but blew his first save of the year by loading the bases and giving up a sacrifice fly to Gary Sanchez. With two out, AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu singled through the middle to give the Yankees a 10-9 lead.
Hand's night is over, and Cal Quantill comes in to try to limit the damage. He's able to strike out Aaron Hicks after walking Aaron Judge, & the Indians will have one last chance to save their season down by one in the bottom of the ninth.
Bottom: Jonathan Loaisaga walks the first two, forcing Aaron Boone to bring in Aroldis Chapman from the pen. The relief ace gives up a bloop single to Cesar Hernandez and Delino DeShields gets a great read and scores, and the Indians now lead it 9-8.
Cleveland has a chance to add to the lead, but Jose Ramirez strikes out & Carlos Santana ground into a double play following a great diving stop at third by Gio Urshela.
Still, we head to the ninth with the Tribe three outs away from forcing Game 3. Brad Hand will come on for the save.
Top: Nick Wittgren gets out of a huge jam by striking out former Indians farm hand Clint Frazier to retire the side. It's still 8-8 with the Tribe coming to bat.
Bottom: Zack Britton gets the first two outs before walking the next two, and Sandy Alomar Jr. decides to replace the red-hot Josh Naylor with Jordan Luplow against a lefty pitcher. In response, Yankees manager Aaron Boone brings in right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga from the bullpen, but Luplow stunningly ties the game with a double off the wall in center.
Loaisiga then hits Roberto Perez on the hand, but Tyler Naquin grounds out to end the inning. As we head to the eighth, it's an 8-8 ballgame.
Top: Triston McKenzie gets two outs, but also gives up a walk and an infield single. Nick Wittgren comes in to retire the side, but the Yankees still lead the Indians 8-6.
Bottom: Chad Green stays on to start the sixth, but gives up singles to Roberto Perez and Delino DeShields before being pulled. Zack Britton comes in to face Francisco Lindor with one out, and after a long at bat gets the star shortstop to ground into a double play. The Indians still trail 8-6 as we head to the 7th.
Top: Triston McKenzie comes in and promptly gives up a leadoff walk to Brett Gardner before Gary Sanchez puts the Yankees back on top with a two-run homer.
The next three Yanks record outs, but the Indians now trail again, 8-6.
Bottom: Masahiro Tanaka gives up a leadoff double to Francisco Lindor and then walks Cesar Hernandez, and his night is done after four innings. Righty Chad Green comes in to face the MVP candidate Jose Ramirez, and he promptly doubles home a pair to tie the game at 6.
Green then manages to retire the next three (including the "immortal" Josh Naylor), and we remain even headed to the sixth.
Top: Giancarlo Stanton adds to the Yankee lead with a sacrifice fly, but Phil Maton is able to avoid further damage by throwing out Luke Voit as he tries to score on a ground ball. The Indians now trail 6-4.
Bottom: Masahiro Tanaka responds to the Yankee outburst by retiring the side in order. The Indians still trail 5-4 as we move to the fifth.
Top: After cruising through the first three innings, Carlos Carrasco's night is done after a miscue in center by Delino DeShields leads to a triple and back-to-back walks load the bases. James Karinchak relieves him, only to give up a grand slam to former Indian Gio Urshela, and the Yankees now have the lead.
Karinchak then walks the next two, and Phil Maton comes in with still nobody out. He's able to clean up the mess by retiring the next three, but the Tribe now trails 5-4.
Bottom: Jose Ramirez draws a leadoff walk, but Masahiro Tanaka retires the next three (including Josh Naylor for the first time). The Tribe still leads 4-1 as we head to the fourth.
Top: Carlos Carrasco retires the side in order again, and the Indians maintain a 4-1 lead.
Bottom: The Indians go in order in as Masahiro Tanaka fans two. It's still 4-1 Tribe as we head to the third.
Top: Giancarlo Stanton gets the Yankees on the board with a solo homer to right, his second of the series.
However, Carlos Carrasco strikes out the side, and the Indians still lead 4-1.
Bottom: The Indians strike first as Jose Ramirez doubles home Cesar Hernandez.
However, the rain became too much, and the tarp came back out on the field with one out, forcing a rain delay of more than a half hour.
Once the skies cleared, the bats stayed hot, as Josh Naylor drove in two with a double (his fifth straight hit of the series) and Roberto Perez followed with an RBI single. The Tribe now leads 4-0 as we head to the second.
Top: Carlos Carrasco gets off to a much better start then Shane Bieber last night, setting the Yankees down in order with two strikeouts. The Indians will bat for the first time in a scoreless ballgame.
Expect weather to still be a factor tonight, as the wind is currently blowing at more than 20 miles per hour out to right field. Rain has also begun to fall, but for now the two teams play on.
Tonight's game was supposed to start at 7:08 p.m., but has been delayed due to a threat of rain in the Cleveland area. First pitch is now tentatively set for 7:50 p.m.