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The Indians Playing Meaningful Games in September is Always Special


In the 1995 season delayed until the resolution of the ongoing strike and thus shortened to 144 games, the Indians went 100-44 and made their first World Series since 1954, losing in six games to the Braves.

That was the first of five straight division championships for the Indians. They lost a 1996 divisional playoff series to the Orioles and got back to the World Series in 1997, coming within two outs of winning it before dropping the seventh game to the Marlins, 3-2, in 11 innings.

The 1998 Indians lost the American League Championship Series to the Yankees, four games to two. The Cleveland wins accounted for the only postseason defeats for New York, which totaled a record 125 wins from Opening Day through their World Series triumph.

Cleveland fell to the Red Sox in a division series a year later. The Indians placed second in the Central to the White Sox in 2000. They closed the season with their fifth win in six games, missing the wild card by one game as the A’s and Mariners each gained necessary wins on the final day.

The Tribe notched its sixth Central title in seven years in 2001, but lost to Seattle in the first playoff round.

Age, trades and free agency had begun to take a toll on the Indians, and it became especially evident beginning in 2002. The organization bounced back, though, thanks especially to some beneficial deals. The 2005 Indians were in contention until the final weekend. Then, in 2007, Cleveland missed the World Series by one win, taking a 3-1 league championship series lead over the Red Sox before losing three straight.

After three futile campaigns, the 2011 Indians began September just 5 1/2 games short of first place before fading.

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Mike Peticca covered the Indians and Cavaliers for The Associated Press from 1976 to 1998 and the Browns from 1976 to 1995. The Akron native doubled as a Plain Dealer sports writer for several years, and then covered high school, college and professional teams for The PD until 2013. He is a longtime baseball Hall of Fame voter.

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