After the final out, Indians catcher Victor Martinez leaned on the dugout railing in a daze, his eyes seemingly fixated on something that a few days earlier seemed so close but is again fading into the distance.

Martinez didn't move for several minutes Sunday before finally walking down the back steps toward the clubhouse.

His descent mirrored one by the Indians.

Monday, one day after being swept in a three-game series by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- of all teams -- Cleveland's postseason chances seemed much further away than the AL standings showed.

The Indians, who have been inconsistent since Opening Day, begin the week only 41/2 games behind Oakland in the AL wild-card chase. However, there are other signs that this club might not yet be ready to play in October.

After giving up a ninth-inning home run to pinch hitter Travis Lee in a 1-0 loss on Sunday, Indians closer Bob Wickman stood alone in an empty clubhouse and wondered where his teammates were.

"Looking for some of our offensive players?" Wickman asked reporters. "Well, so am I. We win and lose as a team. We celebrate together and we share the blame, too. Or at least we should. It's tough when one pitch often means the whole game, but the pitchers are here to face the music. What ticks me off is pitchers getting the blame all the time.

"Let's not sugarcoat it," he said. "There are no excuses. You want to win, well this is the time of year to do it."

Unfortunately, the past two Augusts have been unkind to the Indians.

Rewind to Aug. 14, 2004. Cleveland had crept within one game of first-place Minnesota before a 4-2 loss in 10 innings to the Twins triggered a nine-game losing streak that dropped the Indians from contention.

Back to Aug. 14, 2005. Bad loss. Bad omen?

"I hope it doesn't happen again that it gets out of hand, but yes, it is something to think about," Wickman said of Cleveland's stunning free fall a year ago. "We have to come out and get it done."

Cleveland was outscored 17-8 in the series, and in the final two games the Indians scored just two runs and went 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position.