Indians end season strong with 7-2 victory over Rays
House leads Tribe to a season finale victory, team finishes with 85 wins
CLEVELAND—As bittersweet of an ending as it may be, you can officially close the book on the 2014 Indians.
The Tribe suited up for one more day in the sun at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, ending a bumpy season on a high note, with a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon.
“All of a sudden it comes to a crashing halt and you go home,” manager Terry Francona said. “It’s always the hardest one to process. I thought we did a really good job of playing right up to today. We didn’t do anything in the standings to get us to the playoffs, but I thought we played with good energy.”
Cleveland finishes 2014 with an 85-77 record, officially falling just 2.5 games out of a wild card spot.
“It’s a little bit of happiness and disappointment,” T.J. House said. “Obviously it’s nice to go out there and get a victory, but we definitely wanted to have more games left at the end of the year.”
The rookie House (5-3, 2.66 ERA) led his club to another solid outing in the season finale Sunday, yielding just one run on five hits over five innings. He ends the year 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA over his last five starts, allowing just one walk while striking out 27 in his final 31 innings of work.
“Personally for me, it gives me a lot of confidence knowing I can come out and compete at this level,” House said. “And not just compete, but have success. Just knowing I can give my team a chance to win every day, that’s the main part for me. Whether I give up four runs or none, we get the victory.”
Scoreless through one inning, it quickly became a slugfest for both teams in the second. Rays first baseman Sean Rodriguez took House deep for a solo homer on the first pitch in the frame, giving Tampa the early one run lead.
But David Murphy and Zach Walters would answer right back, belting a pair of solo homers in the bottom half of the inning off right-hander Alex Cobb (10-9, 2.55 ERA). For Walters, it snapped a 2-for-25 skid at the plate since August 30.
“It’s hard to get past the way the ball comes off his bat, it’s almost like a different sound,” Francona said. “He’s so strong that he’s got to figure out a way to do that more often. It will be really interesting how he shows up in the spring.”
Clinging to a 3-2 in the sixth after both clubs added sacrifice flies, Walters gave the Wahoos a big insurance run off Cobb with an RBI double to deep left field. Cleveland quickly put the game and season away with a huge three-run seventh inning, highlighted on a two-run double by Carlos Santana.
Unable to score against the Rays right-hander in the American League Wild Card game last year, Tribe hitters tagged Cobb for four runs on ten hits over six innings Sunday.
“We did a lot of great things that we can look at this year,” Murphy said. “But just like any team that’s not going to be playing from here on out, we want more. I think if you look at everything as a whole, with all the adversity that we went through from injuries to guys not having the type of season they wanted, to win 85 games I think is pretty phenomenal.”
Just like the end of any season, optimism remains high already for next year.
“I think we’re going to take this and spring bolt ourselves into next year with a little chip on our shoulder,” House said. “Play a little stronger and hopefully this time on the last game of the regular season, we’ll be talking about the postseason.”
“You don’t want to be going home, especially when you see something like that on TV,” Michael Bourn said, watching the Detroit Tigers clinch the Central Division in the clubhouse. “We played meaningful games all the way to the end until the last two. We gave it all we had and we fought, but just came up short.”
For a guy who breathes and lives baseball, it won’t take long for Francona to think about what lies ahead in 2015.
“Usually when the season’s over, for a couple days I’ll just collapse,” he said. “It’s hard to turn the engine off. We have meetings in Arizona next Saturday, so that’s like six days. That’s about good.”
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
- potential 40 man roster additions (including who is Rule 5 eligible)
- potential 40 man roster subtractions
- which players are out of options going into next season
- predictions for the arbitration eligible players