CLEVELAND -- Many of the current members of the Cleveland Indians were not on the roster for the trip to the American League Wildcard Playoff Game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, and most were not even in Major League Baseball when they last played in the Division Series in 2007.
But despite the lack of postseason experience, the Indians have handled the pressure of playing the veteran Boston Red Sox, and hold a 2-0 leading heading into tonight’s Game 3 matchup at Fenway Park.
“I think everybody is just playing baseball,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I think that's what we know how to do. I think when you start thinking about other things that maybe we're not so good at, we try to stay away from that and just play the game, and play the game as well as we can and see what happens.
“Again, it's more fun when you win, but I don't see anybody backing down or anything like that. The atmosphere is going to be a little different.”
Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber had not pitched in 10 days after straining a muscle in his right leg, but knowing that his bullpen had four-plus innings of work in Game 1 and with the rotation depleted because of injury, he pitched like the ace the team needed him to be in Game 2 Friday night.
Over seven-plus innings of work, Kluber allowed just three hits and three walks against seven strikeouts and worked his way around multiple jams, each time closing the door on the Red Sox on the way to a 6-0 win and 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
“I think we've done a good job this far, and I think we're going to continue to just go play baseball,” Kluber said after his first-ever postseason start. “In the end, it's still the same game, and I think that we have a good team and I think that so far, we've been able to just go out there and play as we usually do, and that's what we're going to be doing going forward.”
In addition to Kluber’s pitching, the Indians’ batting order came alive when the postseason began.
After the top of the order hit back-to-back home runs in the Game 1 win, the bottom third of the lineup plated four runs in the second inning of Game 2.
Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall delivered the big hit of the inning when after taking a called strike, he smashed a 1-1 pitch from Red Sox starter David Price off of the foul pole in right field for a three-run home run, the Indians’ fourth round-tripper of the series.
“Sometimes, good players make you look smarter than you probably are,” Francona said. “Like I said before the game, David Price is a really good pitcher. His splits are kind of even, and with Klube pitching, we really like to have our best defensive team out there. And it also gave us some balance.”