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CLEVELAND (AP) — Terry Francona is well aware of what these final two games mean for the Indians.
And, it hurts.
"I know what we're playing for now is not to go to the playoffs," Francona said Saturday. "It's disappointing."
Cleveland's hopes of reaching the postseason for the second straight season ended Friday night. Although the Indians beat Tampa Bay, they were eliminated about an hour later when Oakland beat Texas.
Heading into the weekend, the Indians had a very slim chance of making the playoffs. Not only did they have to sweep three games from the Rays, they needed Oakland to lose all of its remaining games to tie the Athletics for the AL's second wild card.
The Indians secured a wild card last season by going 21-6 in September and winning their final 10 games. The last two games this season won't carry the same meaning.
While right-hander Corey Kluber is a leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award and left fielder Michael Brantley went into Saturday one hit shy of 200 and three RBIs away from the 100 mark, the Indians dealt with their share of adversity.
Cleveland spent the first half recovering from an 11-17 April. Several key players struggled with injuries and lackluster performance. The Indians also committed a major league-leading 114 errors.
"Enough stuff went wrong this year where winning was a challenge, probably more often than we wanted," Francona said. "Because of our guys' commitment to grinding, we hung in there (but) that's not our goal."
The Indians are 12-12 this month and lost six of seven to AL Central-leading Detroit, which ended any realistic chance of winning the division.
Cleveland entered the week 3½ games out of a wild card, but it split four games with Kansas City and couldn't gain any ground.
"It was almost good enough," Francona said. "It wasn't, but I'd rather have the disappointment of getting eliminated two days before the end of the season than a month. As I said, that's certainly not our goal but I do believe some things that didn't go as well as we wanted to this year will next year."
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