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Indians' exit shouldn't overshadow the journey

Plenty of great memories -- 102 wins, 22 in a row, historic pitching
MLB.com @beckjason

CLEVELAND -- The Indians made history with a 102-win regular season that included a 22-game winning streak. They needed a third win against the Yankees in October to keep their postseason hopes alive.

They couldn't stop the momentum the Yanks had built in the Bronx, and their hopes of another chance at the World Series ended early as a result. It was tough to find solace in the silence of a stunned clubhouse Wednesday night, but Andrew Miller thinks they'll find it soon.

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CLEVELAND -- The Indians made history with a 102-win regular season that included a 22-game winning streak. They needed a third win against the Yankees in October to keep their postseason hopes alive.

They couldn't stop the momentum the Yanks had built in the Bronx, and their hopes of another chance at the World Series ended early as a result. It was tough to find solace in the silence of a stunned clubhouse Wednesday night, but Andrew Miller thinks they'll find it soon.

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"I think there are a lot of things that happened this year that are a lot of fun, things that we'll remember and things that pop up, what this team accomplished that is going to mean a lot down the road," Miller said after the 5-2 loss in Game 5 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan. "But right now, we just wanted to keep playing. We're not."

It's a reminder that nothing is guaranteed. Just because a team fell a run short, an inning shy of a World Series championship one year doesn't mean they'll be back in a World Series with a chance at redemption the next. To say the Indians needed just one more win doesn't account for how difficult those first 10 wins are to repeat.

At the same time, it shouldn't discount the journey to get there, something Miller hopes is appreciated when the pain eases.

"We'd love to win a World Series and do a parade through Cleveland," Miller said. "We saw that with the Cavs, the way they were embraced through their success. But I'd like to think that the team we've put out on the field since I've been here and even prior to that, since Tito has been here, that it's hopefully been a fun product to watch and people have enjoyed it."

Video: NYY@CLE Gm5: Miller fans five Yankees in relief

Or as manager Terry Francona put it, "It was an honor to go through this year with these guys. There's times it hurt, like tonight. But it's quite a group, and I feel like a better person for going through the year with these guys."

Not just the product, but the individuals behind it, provided memories in 2017. The Indians could find themselves with a two-time AL Cy Young Award winner in Corey Kluber when results are announced next month, thanks to one of the most dominant second-half stretches in recent history. His 1.62 ERA since returning from the disabled list on June 1 was the lowest in the Majors by nearly a run, topping Max Scherzer's 2.48 ERA in that same stretch. Kluber went 10-2 with a 1.81 ERA at Progressive Field for the season, the lowest home ERA by a Tribe starter since Gaylord Perry in 1972.

Behind Kluber, Jose Ramirez continued his meteoric rise, this time jumping from an underrated cog on a contending team to an All-Star who will likely receive AL MVP Award votes. His 91 extra-base hits rank second-most ever by a switch-hitter, including a league-best total of 56 doubles that just 18 other Major League players have reached in a season. Ramirez posted nine consecutive multihit games in June, the longest such streak by a Cleveland player since Roy Hughes in 1936.

Ramirez's offense was the standard for third basemen. Then, once Jason Kipnis went on the disabled list, he moved to second and kept it up. Ramirez's .957 OPS is the highest in Major League history for a player with at least 60 games at second and third base in the same season.

Video: CLE@SEA: Ramirez drills go-ahead solo home run in 6th

"We did things during the regular season that nobody can take away from us -- the 22 games, the way our staff pitched or the team played, everything we've done this year leading up to this point," reliever Bryan Shaw said. "Nobody can take that away from us. Obviously, it's going to take a little while to get over. Everything that we did, there's nothing to be upset about. We had a good season, 102 wins. Everybody played well. Everybody did their jobs. It was a lot of fun to go through it all."

It makes the early exit all the more painful, but the exit doesn't erase the journey.

"We love our team," Miller said. "The fact that guys in this clubhouse were able to win 22 in a row and win 102 for the regular season says a lot about the ability of this team. We think the ability of this team is to win the World Series. But there's no guarantees."

Jason Beck has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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