Cleveland Indians embrace role of underdog in ALDS

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians may have home-field advantage over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series, but despite starting the best-of-five set at Progressive Field Thursday, they enter the postseason 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. And the Indians are okay with that assessment.

“I like that,” Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “I like when people doubt us. I like when people doubt me and people doubt the whole, entire team. It’s fun. That’s what makes it fun, looking back and telling people. We’ll see. We’ve got to play the game the right way. We’ve got to play hard, continue to do what the Tribe does, and hopefully, God willing, we come out victorious.”

Many national reporters predicted the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals would win the A.L. Central Division, and by proving the media and other doubters wrong, the Indians have enjoyed the run to the postseason that much more.

“That’s what makes it fun,” Lindor said. “We don’t talk. We just play the game the right way and whatever happens is going to happen. If it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen.”

Although the Indians are proud of making it to the postseason, they are not just happy to be there. In fact, they want to do some damage and advance as far as possible.

“It’s a dream come true, and now, we’ve got to do it and be ourselves,” Lindor said. “We’ve got to go play the game the right way, compete every, single pitch. There’s going to be 27 outs. That’s a good team that we’re going to be facing in the first round, but I believe in my Tribe.

“If we play the game the right way, we play hard, 27 outs, and we come out victorious, that’s what we came here to do.”

Center fielder Rajai Davis signed with the Indians in the offseason partially because he believed in the talent already in the clubhouse. After 161 regular-season games, that belief has only gotten stronger.

And with the Indians not the favorite to advance in the postseason, Davis is hoping to prove the doubters wrong one more time.

“I don’t know why we’ve been doubted,” Davis said. “We have a lot of talent here. Maybe we’re a little young, but we have some experience. Mike Napoli’s been great for our team as far as experience and as far as just helping all of us, especially the young guys, through tough situations. I think we have a very confident group here, and we’re ready.

“That’s good. I’d rather be the underdog than it was expected. When we win, it’s more glory for us.”


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