Tribe Wins, But Loses Out

Indians' Kenny Lofton takes a cut against the Blue Jays. AP

The Indians extended their season by at least a few hours, and maybe even a couple days.

Cleveland's slim playoff hopes stayed alive until Sunday evening when Manny Ramirez homered in perhaps his final at-bat for the Indians, who pounded David Wells and closed the regular season with a 11-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar and Kenny Lofton also homered for the Indians, who need some help to make it into the postseason for the sixth straight year.

Cleveland trails Seattle by one-half game for the AL wild card, pending the outcome of the Mariners' game at Anaheim.

There are several other scenarios that could get Cleveland (90-72) into the playoffs, but none of them will matter if both the Mariners and Oakland Athletics won Sunday. The A's played host to Texas.

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Game Summary

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  • The Indians have a charter flight booked and tentatively headed to Seattle at 10 p.m. should the Mariners lose and have to play Cleveland in a playoff game on Monday.

    "I've got my bags packed," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said before the game. "I'm ready to go."

    If the Indians don't make the playoffs, some of their players could be packing for other places during the winter. Ramirez is eligible to become a free agent, and David Segui, Sandy Alomar and Kenny Lofton are all in the final year of their contracts.

    Ramirez's situation is the most troublesome. He and his agent have already turned down a five-year, $75 million deal from the club. Indians owner Larry Dolan has promised he'll make a final offer to Ramirez, who seems to drive up his price with every at-bat.

    In the seventh, with one fan holding a sign saying, "Uncanny Manny" and more than 42,000 chanting "Man-ny, Man-ny", Ramirez connected for his 38th homer a 452-foot shot that rattled through the picnic area beyond center field.

    As Ramirez came out for a curtain call, Dolan smiled as leaned back in the chair in his luxury suite.

    Alex Gonzalez and Tony Batista homered for the Blue Jays (83-79), who dropped their final four games.

    Thome's three-run homer, his 37th, chased Wells (20-8) in the third inning. The line drive into Toronto's right-field bullpen gave the Indians a 7-2 lead and gave Cleveland fans reason to believe that there might be some healing at the end of this injury-marred season after all.

    But even the final out of the season had fans worried when third baseman Travis Fryman collided with reliever Ricardo Rincon. Fryman remained on the ground for several moments before he and the Indians walked off the field.

    Wells came in with a 17-3 career mark against Cleveland, going 4-0 against them in the postseason and beating them twice this year. But the left-hander lost to Cleveland for the first time since June 22, 1997 a span of nine starts and probably lost any chance of overtaking Boston's Pedro Martinez in the Cy Young balloting.

    Steve Woodard (3-3), who beat Martinez on Sept. 20 in one of many must-win games the Indians played down the stretch, gave up a two-run homer to Gonzalez in the first before retiring 17 in a row.

    Woodard's performance four hits in 5 2-3 innings allowed Manuel to save ace Bartolo Colon and Dave Burba for a possible playoff game.

    In the final 13 days of the season, the Indians beat Wells, Martinez and Roger Clemens - three pitchers who have dominated them.

    Cleveland got some help from Toronto right fielder Dave Martinez in the second when the Indians scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead.

    Segui and Thome hit singles, and after a fielder's choice, Wells hit Jolbert Cabrera o load the bases. Lofton followed with a liner toward the gap in right-center which Martinez ran down but tipped off his glove, allowing two runs to score.

    Cabrera scored on Omar Vizquel's sacrifice fly.

    Notes

  • There were signs all over the ballpark addressed toward Dolan on Ramirez's future. Among them: "My Granny Said Pay Manny" and "Manny Please Stay, Dolan Please Pay."
  • Cleveland was an AL-best 46-30 in the second half.
  • Roberto Alomar's first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 18 games.
  • Wells missed a chance to tie the Jays' club record for wins in a season. Jack Morris and Roger Clemens each won 21 games for Toronto.
  • Cleveland led the majors in attendance for the first time since 1948. And their 3,456,278 led the AL for the second straight year.


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