CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians know a thing or two about momentum, as they have been on both sides of it during the postseason in each of the last two years.
That is why the Indians (2-2) used their workout day to regroup and settle things down after losing a pair of games at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, which evened the best-of-five series heading into tonight’s winner-take-all Game 5 matchup against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field.
“I think it's our responsibility and our challenge to not let that happen,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of the Yankees seizing momentum in the series. “I don't think it's wrong to be honest about it, like I listen to other coaches talk, other managers talk. I think being honest is probably the best way to go about it. Would much have preferred us to have won and move on. We didn't do that.
“We have a really exciting game that's in front of us. I think the day off helps us. We can regroup a little bit. And the challenge is to, by the time you get to the first pitch, to have everything behind you so you can play your best game.”
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In order to get the ball rolling in putting the past behind the Indians, Francona met with the team briefly following their 7-3 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium Monday. Although the meeting was short, Francona felt it necessary to remind the players of what got them here.
And what got the Indians to this point in the postseason is the best record in the American League (102-60), an AL-record 22-game winning streak through late August and early September, which came with nine key players on the disabled list, and a second straight Central Division Championship.
“Millsy (Brad Mills) and I talked during the game, as we always do, and the idea is to move forward, just like we say when we've won a lot in a row,” Francona said. “We don't look back, so that's the same idea now.
“I was glad we did it because I felt better when we left. You might as well start heading in the right direction as soon as you can, not let guys think about it all night and everything like that, and I was pleased that we did that.”
In 2004, Francona was the manager of the Boston Red Sox, who became the first team in Major League Baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series to beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, and then, swept their way through the World Series in order to break an 87-year title drought.
And heading into Game 5 tonight, Francona is as confident in the Indians as he was in that historic Red Sox team.
“That's why we met real quick last night, because they do have those qualities, and I don't want them to forget that,” Francona said. “It wasn't a fire and brimstone. It wasn't yelling. It was just, hey, remind them of who we are and that we can figure things out together.
“And that's how we do things. They're a good group. I mean, they're easy to like.”