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POSTED BY: officialsbaseball on 11/09/2018 02:32:59
CLEVELAND (AP) — There was new postseason gear awaiting the Indians when they arrived at Progressive Field for an intra-squad scrimmage Gleyber Torres Jersey , one of their last workouts before things get very real.The fresh swag included blue-and-red T-shirts emblazoned with “October Ready.”“October Redemption” may have been more fitting.After falling short of a World Series title the past two postseasons with gut-wrenching defeats, the Indians enter the 2018 playoffs looking to finish the job and end baseball’s longest championship drought — now at 70 years.“The last two Octobers,” said All-Star catcher Yan Gomes. “We had it in our grasp and it kind of just slipped away.”When the Indians open the AL Division Series on Friday in Houston with 20-game winner Corey Kluber facing Astros star Justin Verlander, those past fall failures won’t mean a thing to a Cleveland team that has had several weeks to get healthy and line up its pitching after coasting to a third straight Central title.But since blowing a 2-0 lead in last year’s Division Series to the New York Yankees, the Indians have been focused on getting their next swings on baseball’s biggest stage.This time, they want to make the most off them.“I certainly think that the way the last the last couple of years have gone have hopefully driven us to work a little bit harder, crave it a little bit more in getting there and being that last team to win a game,” said reliever Andrew Miller, whose struggles this season have included three disabled-list stints. “It’s not going to be easy. There’s a lot of good teams that you got to go through and you got to have a lot of things probably go your way.“You got to have luck on your side on top of it all, so this team is as capable as anybody. It’s just a matter of us getting those breaks and playing up to our ability.”The Indians enter this postseason with fewer questions than in previous years.Kluber is pitching as well as ever and the two-time Cy Young winner isn’t plagued by the back issues that led to him being so ineffective in last season’s ALDS. All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley is healthy as well, and Cleveland’s lineup — driven by dynamic infielders Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez — is deeper than ever following the late-season acquisition of third baseman Josh Donaldson Tyler Austin Jersey , the 2015 league MVP.Jason Kipnis has a postseason of playing the outfield under his belt, and Ramirez, who was in the thick of the MVP race before a September swoon, has shown signs of emerging from his slump.The Indians’ bullpen has had some major problems, but lefty Brad Hand gives manager Terry Francona another late-inning option, and don’t be surprised if starter Trevor Bauer, who recently returned from a broken leg, is used in key relief situations.Francona believes his team is hitting its stride at just the right moment.“We were so unsettled last year in the playoffs,” he said. “We went through a lot of that the last two weeks. It’s not a lot of fun, because it’s unsettling. But I think — in fact, I know — it was for a good reason. Now Clint Frazier Jersey , we’re going to see if it pays off. We think we have Donaldson in a good place. We think Andrew’s come so far. Kip’s had three weeks to play center field. Jose’s had three weeks at second.“If you have too many question marks, sometimes the answer is no. And we really don’t want that to happen.”The Indians don’t want a repeat of last October, either.Cleveland won the first two games at home over New York before losing 1-0 in Game 3, which could have easily gone to the Indians if Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge didn’t reach over the right-field wall to rob Lindor of a two-run homer.The Yankees went on to win Game 4 and closed out the series in Cleveland, bringing back painful memories for Indians fans who witnessed the Chicago Cubs end their Series drought on the same field a year earlier.“We didn’t put our best foot forward the last couple games,” Francona said, reflecting for a moment on last season. “Saying that, shoot, you’ve got to look at things in perspective. If Judge is 6’1 instead of 6’9, we probably win Game 3.”This October run for the Indians begins with a tough matchup against the defending World Series champions.Houston has it all, including a title Cleveland wants.“It’s going to be one of the most evenly-matched series of the first rounds http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-mark-mcgwire-jersey ,” Kipnis said. “In terms of staff, we line up with them. In lineup, we line up with them. It’s going to be a lot of fun to lace it up and get on out there. It doesn’t matter how you’ve done. In October last year we thought we were the best team and had a lot of wins, and here come the Yankees.“Once it gets to October, anything goes and anything can happen. That’s the fun part about it.” Los Angeles had hoped to have right-hander Ross Stripling back from the disabled list Tuesday to help its beleaguered bullpen, but his return has been pushed back to at least the weekend when the pitcher said his lower back still wasn’t pain-free.While Stripling won’t be in action for a few more games, the Dodgers didn’t need him Tuesday, relying on their 15-hit offense that included four RBIs from Manny Machado in an 8-4 victory over Texas at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.Los Angeles has won four straight games and is 3-0 against the Rangers this season after sweeping Texas in a two-game set at Dodger Stadium earlier in the year.Article continues below ...The Dodgers will send left-hander Alex Wood (7-6, 3.60 ERA) to the mound in the finale of the truncated series while Texas will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (10-6, 4.40). Both pitchers were a part of the Braves‘ staff in 2014.Stripling said he didn’t have a setback and he threw on flat ground Tuesday. He expects to throw a bullpen session Wednesday and said a weekend return now is a logical target. He went on the disabled list Aug. 15 and hasn’t pitched since Aug. 9.“Not pushing it Stephen Piscotty Jersey ,” Stripling said. “Probably could pitch, probably be fine, but being smart about it and give it at least one more time off the mound and go from there. It’s not like a re-emergence of symptoms. Lower-back stuff is hit or miss.“It’s tough when you’re trying to be in a race to win a division and feel like I could go and help guys out. The idea is give it a couple more days and be 100 percent, and be good to go and not have to worry about it, instead of being tentative and not trust it.”Rangers reliever Matt Bush admitted the inevitable Tuesday — he is not expected to pitch again this season. Bush has been sidelined since June 13 with a strained flexor tendon and has not yet been able to throw off a mound. He has been limited to throwing long toss.The injury goes back to spring training and has never subsided. Bush said he had tightness and discomfort in the spring when he was being converted into a starter and didn’t think anything about it.“I’m taking it easy and following the plan,” Bush told MLB.com before Tuesday’s game. “That’s all I can do. I’d like to be in the game, it’s tough not being out there. But I have to stick with the plan. I had Tommy John (surgery) in the past (2007), and we are just being smart about it.”Bush began the season in the bullpen, but was sent to Triple-A Round Rock on April 25 with a 3.97 ERA. He came back up to the Rangers on May 21 and struggled with a 5.40 ERA in eight appearances before going on the disabled list.Wood last pitched Aug. 20 at home against the Cardinals when he allowed three runs on seven hits in four innings and did not factor into the decision in the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss. In 24 starts, he has struck out 117 batters against 33 walks, while posting a 1.19 WHIP.Wood has made one start against the Rangers on Sept. 12 http://www.athleticsfanproshop.com/authentic-andrew-triggs-jersey , 2014 as a member of the Braves, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings.Minor will make his 24th start of the season Wednesday and will be working on extended six days’ rest after earning the win in Rangers’ 4-2 victory at Oakland on Aug. 23. Minor faced the minimum, allowing one hit and one walk in six shutout innings, and ended that start by retiring the last 11 batters faced. It was his 10th quality start of the season and third in his last four outings.Minor has gone 1-2 with a 2.56 ERA in seven games, six of them starts, in his career versus the Dodgers. He has not started against the Dodgers since Aug. 12, 2014 when he was with Atlanta in what ended up as a 4-2 Braves’ defeat at Turner Field.