From the brink

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By Gerard Flanagan

A team with 102 regular season wins and a historic 22-game winning streak is going home under an utter cloud of disappointment. Despite holding a 2-0 lead in the series, there will be no World Series for this team, no chance to celebrate in champagne baths and no chance to hoist the coveted Commissioner’s Trophy.
The Cleveland Indians are out of the postseason after suffering a 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the ALCS - in what can only be considered a meltdown from a team looking to get back in the World Series after a heartbreaking seven-game loss last season.
After defeating the Yankees 9-8 in 13 innings on Oct. 6 - a win sealed when Yan Gomes drove in Austin Jackson after the Indians rallied from five runs down- Cleveland appeared destined to sweep New York in the best-of-five series and advance one step closer to the World Series.
New York was faced with the tall task of winning three straight in a bid to keep its season alive. First, they edged Cleveland 1-0 in Game 3, with the only run coming when Greg Bird homered in the seventh. Francisco Lindor nearly homered in the sixth, but the 6’ 7” Aaron Judge leapt high and robbed Lindor of the two run shot.
Then, in Game 4, Cleveland committed four errors, which was a franchise record in a playoff game. The Yanks took full advantage, besting the Tribe 7-3 to force the decisive Game 5. The Indians had only committed 76 errors all season and starting pitcher Trevor Bauer struggled coming off three days’ rest, making it only 1.2 innings where he allowed four runs and four hits.
In the decisive Game 5 at Progressive Field, Didi Gregorius homered twice to lead the Yankees to the win and an ALCS matchup with the Houston Astros, who defeated the Boston Red Sox in four games. The win also put New York back in the ALCS for the first time since 2012.
Perhaps Indians manager Terry Francona put it best after the three-game tailspin to end the season.
"Nobody wanted the season to be over," he said. "It doesn't wind down, it comes to a crashing halt. It's disappointing. We felt good about ourselves. We made it harder to win, especially in the last two games."
It’s another season void of a championship for the Tribe, who are now 70 years removed from their last title - all the way back in 1948 under skipper Lou Boudreau.
In last year’s World Series, Cleveland, the team of destiny - with such a long championship drought on their shoulders - faced a team with an even longer streak - the Chicago Cubs, who ended their 108-year championship drought, which was the longest in baseball at the time.
Now, it’s Cleveland with the longest title drought and the torturous wait for another championship will extend well into the fall, winter and spring forthcoming.