By M.R. KROPKO
Associated Press Writer
Cleveland 2, Boston 11
CLEVELAND (AP) — The two winningest Major League Baseball teams, each with 102 wins this season, on Sunday found only two options ahead: a World Series berth or a burst bubble.
Cleveland Indians backers made one more trek to Jacobs Field, even though the deciding Game 7 of the American League Championship Series was at Boston’s Fenway Park. They could only hope that the Lake Erie port city which has often experienced disappointing outcomes with its pro sports teams might somehow be able to celebrate.
The hopes and prayers of Tribe faithful were with the Indians, who split the first six games with Boston. But fans were also battling a big dose of reality-check dismay.
‘‘I’m very confident,’’ said Tim Wheeler, 41, of Akron. ‘‘If they lose, they’ve still had a fabulous season. I’ll still be an Indians fan for life until die.’’
Cleveland could have won the American League title at home Thursday night, when leading the series three games to one, but the Red Sox beat the Indians 7-1. Then, Saturday night in Boston was also one-sided, a 12-2 Red Sox victory.
Indians fans enjoyed ALCS triumphs in 1995 and 1997, only to see the Atlanta Braves and then the Florida Marlins grab the glory in the World Series those years.
Some controversy was also in the air Sunday. Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd, whose win in Game 4 of the ALCS moved the Indians within one victory of the World Series, bought nearly $25,000 worth of human growth hormone and syringes from 2002 to 2005 when he played for other teams, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Byrd joined the Indians as a free agent for the 2006 season.
‘‘Unfortunately, sometimes that stuff is true,’’ said Diane Buchs, 46, of Painesville, another Indians fan set to watch the game on Jacobs Field’s big screen. ‘‘But it’s the kind of thing we hear about when an athlete does well.’’
Had the Indians had the home field advantage, the unseasonably warm weather in northeast Ohio on Sunday would have been perfect for a major showdown.
The Indians had captured Cleveland’s imagination by defeating the New York Yankees three games to one in a first-round series. Across the city, Indians caps and T-shirts were common during the work week, and Go TRIBE signs appeared on some buildings.
The prideful mood was similar to what Cleveland sports fans displayed in June, when the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time in that team’s history advanced to the NBA Finals, only to be swept in four games by the San Antonio Spurs.