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Indians’ regular season stars didn’t show up in the postseason

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The Indians, the defending American League champions, won 102 games in the regular season but will not advance any further in the playoffs. They suffered a 5-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the ALDS.

There’s plenty for the Indians to be proud about, but their early exit from the playoffs can’t be categorized as anything but a disappointment. Their failure has a lot to do with their regular season stars not showing up when it mattered most.

Ace Corey Kluber, who is in line for the AL Cy Young Award, couldn’t finish the third inning in his Game 2 start against the Yankees. He yielded six runs on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. In Wednesday’s start, he went just 3 2/3 innings, surrendering three runs on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts. For those keeping score at home, that’s a 12.80 ERA.

Infielder Jose Ramirez, who will get some AL MVP votes, went 2-for-20 with two singles and two walks in the ALDS. He had a .957 OPS and mashed 91 extra-base hits during the regular season.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor, arguably the face of the franchise, was 2-for-18. Of course, one of his hits was that huge grand slam that spurred the Indians’ Game 2 comeback. But his team needed him to do something in the other four games.

The three stars weren’t alone. Outfielder Michael Brantley was 1-for-11. Austin Jackson went 3-for-14. Edwin Encarnacion, though battling an ankle injury suffered during Game 2, was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Game 5. Jason Kipnis went 0-for-4 in Game 5 and 4-for-22 in total in the series.

Obviously, the Yankees’ pitching deserves a ton of credit for holding that kind of talent at bay. But anyone on the Indians will tell you that they didn’t get the job done, and that’s why their season ended earlier than they anticipated.

Sheldon Ocker named winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Sheldon Ocker the winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 29.

Ocker began covering the Indians for the Akron Beacon Journal in 1981 and did so until 2013, when he retired. He was national president of the BBWAA in 1985 and served as chair of the Cleveland Chapter 11 times. He named Ohio Sports Writer of the Year in 1997 and 2000 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.