CLEVELAND -- The mission for the Cleveland Indians sounds easy, needing to win just one of the next three games to advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time since the 2007 season.
But like most things in sports, winning is easier said than done, especially when the Boston Red Sox are standing in the way of that goal, as they have erased both 2-0 and 3-0 deficits to win series in the recent past.
“We just need to try to go win,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “If you start worrying about Tuesday, we're going to miss (Monday).
“We just play, and then, hopefully, we play a really good game and win. If we don't, we'll go on to the next day. I just think you start getting too far ahead of yourself and it can look a little daunting sometimes. We don't need to do that. We just need to try to win. That will be hard enough.”
Many of the current members of the 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 Red Sox, and hold a 2-0 leading heading into tonight’s Game 3 matchup at Fenway Park.
“We try to attack every day the same,” Francona said. “We try to win that game and play the best we can, and if we don't win, we try to learn from our mistakes and move on. That's really the only way I know to do it.
“You don't have to concern yourself with outside influences or outside noise. The expectations we place on ourselves are what matters, and that is to go out and play a really good game and see if we can win. We're playing a really good team. We might not win. If we don't, we'll try to win the next day. That's what we always do.”
Fenway Park presents unique challenges because of a seemingly infinite amount of caroms that the ball takes after hitting the “Green Monster,” or the other sharp angles along the outfield wall. However different the 104-year old ballpark may be, there are still nine innings that need to be played, three balls over the plate to strike out and 27 outs required to win.
“It's a pretty special place,” Francona said. “If you like baseball, this is kind of like a cathedral. I mean, it's the way baseball, I think, a lot of people think it's supposed to be. It's older, but it's beautiful. There's so much history.
“And because of the fan base, the way they're so enthusiastic and rabid, when they start to get something going late, this place starts shaking and you can feel it. So it's part of the game, and you need to be prepared for it because you know it's going to get crazy.”