CLEVELAND -- From a 14-game win streak and 19-inning marathon to year-long battles with injuries for top players, the Cleveland Indians went through a little bit of everything during the regular season. But still, they found a way to persevere and win the American League Central Division for the first time since 2007.
Now, with a 1-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series heading into today’s Game 2 matchup at Progressive Field, the Indians will turn to their ace, Corey Kluber, with a chance to take a commanding lead in the best-of-five series after Thursday’s 5-4 win.
“Any team over the course of an entire season goes through ups and downs,” Kluber said. “In my opinion, we’ve done a great job of overcoming different obstacles, whether it be injuries or whatever it is.
“I think that it’s something that we can take pride in and build on, the fact that we’ve overcome those obstacles. We’ve stuck together and not really had that moment where people are pulling in different directions.”
At the beginning of the season, the Indians were considered underdogs to win the Central Division with the Kansas City Royals coming off of a World Series Championship and the Chicago White Sox bolstering their lineup.
Add in the fact that MVP-caliber left fielder Michael Brantley struggled through arm issues and was unable to play after May 11, catcher Yan Gomes missed two months because of a dislocated shoulder and broken bone in his hand, and starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco (hamstring/broken hand) and Danny Salazar (right arm fatigue/strains), the Indians were without two hitters in the middle of the lineup and two of the top three members of the rotation.
And even after overcoming those issues to win the Central Division, the Indians returned to the postseason for the first time in four years as an underdog. Despite not holding either of the top two seeds in the American League, the Red Sox are the prohibitive favorites to reach the World Series.
But the Indians are okay with the underdog role. In fact, they embrace it proudly.
“We have a good group of guys, and I think we do a good job of keeping our expectations within what the guys in the clubhouse expect,” Kluber said. “I don’t think we necessarily take too much stock in outside predictions, expectations.
“I think that’s where we’re going to continue to be.”