October 26, 2014

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Tribe playoffs: September magic fades to only memories

Cleveland Indians’ Ryan Raburn throws his bat after striking out against Tampa Bay starting pitcher Alex Cobb in the sixth inning of the AL wild-card baseball game Wednesday in Cleveland. The Rays won the game, 4-0, ending the Tribe’s playoff hopes. (AP PHOTO)

CLEVELAND — One and done.

The Indians’ return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 ended the same night it began. The Tampa Bay Rays invaded Progressive Field, won 4-0 and held a champagne celebration in the visitors’ locker room.

Cleveland’s 10-game winning streak to end the regular season secured only a wild-card berth and a home playoff game. That meant one game against Tampa Bay for the right to take a deep breath, then face Boston in the best-of-five American League Division Series.

The Indians have until next season to catch their breath.

The unbelievable starting pitching and clutch hitting that made for a September to remember disappeared.

Danny Salazar, the rookie starting pitcher, began throwing fire but quickly flamed out and was gone one batter into the fifth inning. He allowed three earned runs on four hits, including a homer.

The offense never helped, wasting three good chances and stranding nine. Also left behind were 43,579 disappointed fans.

They started the night wearing red, waving white towels, screaming their hearts out and dreaming of a run to the World Series. They ended the festivities with long, quiet walks to the car.

The postseason had left town as quickly as it arrived.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.