The Indians' late-inning relievers were terrific in the first half of the series. But they were a non-factor in the final three games because the Indians could never get them a lead to protect."We needed something special to happen," third baseman Casey Blake said. "We needed things to go our way, and they didn't." Decline and fall of the aces: Might as well bring up the most obvious: never in the history of the League Championship Series has a team had two starters struggle as much as C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona did for the Indians. They combined for 38 wins in the regular season, but together they were 0-3 with a 12.67 ERA in four starts in the ALCS. Carmona was 0-1 with a 16.50 ERA in his two starts and Sabathia was 0-2 with a 10.45 in his two. It's the first time in LCS history that a team has had two pitchers start two games each and both finish with an ERA higher than 10.00. It happened once in the World Series, when Livan Hernandez had a 14.29 ERA and Russ Ortiz had a 10.13 ERA for the San Francisco Giants in 2002. "It's a tough loss to take right now," Sabathia said. "We had the upper hand, and then let it slip away. We tried to do our best but it wasn't enough. But when I review this year when I'm relaxed, I'm going to realize how good this season was." Handling Betancourt: Rafael Betancourt was a big reason why the Indians led 3-1 after four games. What happened to him over the final three games is part of what went wrong for the Indians. Go back to Game 5 on Thursday when the Indians trailed 2-1 going into the seventh. Sabathia had thrown 106 pitches, but Wedge sent him out to the seventh instead of bringing in Betancourt. Wedge said he did not want to use Betancourt for two innings, but the Indians had been off Wednesday and had another day off Friday. Sabathia gave up a double to Dustin Pedroia and a triple to Kevin Youkilis. Wedge then went to Betancourt before David Ortiz's sacrifice fly gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead. In almost the same situation in Game 7, Betancourt was brought in to pitch the seventh with the Indians trailing, 3-2. This time Betancourt couldn't do the job. Pedroia hit a two-run home run off him in the seventh and the Red Sox scored five more off him in the eighth. "I tried my best," Betancourt said. "This time I couldn't get it done. I'm still proud of what we did."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.