Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Loose, resilient Indians face their ultimate test in raucous Wrigley

CHICAGO — The humor involved in the figurative passing of the microphone in pre-Game 3 World Series interviews Thursday at Wrigley Field was a window inside the loose Indians clubhouse.

"Get your Texas-to-English dictionary ready," Tribe manager Terry Francona said, ceding the seat in front of the media to Friday night's starter, right-hander Josh Tomlin.

When first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli approached for his turn, he grabbed the wireless mic used in the audience for a final question.

"Josh, who is better at cribbage, you or Mike Napoli?" Napoli asked.

"That's me, of course, you know that," Tomlin said laughing.

Northeast Ohioans might have been distraught by the Tribe's 5-1 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday night at Progressive Field that evened the series 1-1. But the Indians seemed as relaxed and jovial as ever.

As usual, Francona set the tone, joking about the big, new international 767 the Indians flew in on after the game, even though Napoli said the weather made it a "knuckleball" experience. The plane, which the Indians also took home from Toronto after the American League Championship Series, has seats that recline to make a bed.

"I wanted the guy just to fly around for a while," Francona said, drawing laughter.

One member of the traveling party said the plane was so nice Francona probably wished they'd been heading to Los Angeles, but the Cubs eliminated the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

All jokes aside, resilience has been a trademark of the Indians all season. Friday night in Wrigley Field will be the stiffest test.

After their only previous playoff setback, a 5-1 loss at Toronto in Game 4 of the ALCS, they came back with a 3-0 victory in Game 5 at Rogers Centre behind rookie left-hander Ryan Merritt.

But this will be a different animal. The Cubs are hosting their first World Series game since 1945 and seeking their first championship since 1908. Wrigley will be raucous and electric, just like the neighborhood, where The Cubby Bear lounge is charging a $100 cover, just like it did for the NLCS.

"I think it will be a tremendous atmosphere. I thought the one in Cleveland was, too. I think it's good for baseball," Francona said. "I don't think there's going to be a ton of people cheering for us. But that's where the feeling in the clubhouse comes in because it is going to be us against the world tomorrow, but us is pretty good. We have a good feeling. Everybody in there protects everybody else and takes care of everybody else."

Tribe president Chris Antonetti said the last time the Indians set foot in a similar atmosphere they fared pretty well. That was on Oct. 10, when the Indians won Game 3 of the ALDS at Fenway Park 4-3 over the Red Sox, with Tomlin getting the decision.

Some Indians pitchers didn't seem to need Francona's "us against the world" theme.

"I try not to get too involved in the outside pressure of what people are against us or for us," Tomlin said. "I don't really get involved in all that stuff."

Closer Cody Allen said he felt the same way.

"It's us versus the Cubs. That's a good team out there," Allen said. "We can't focus on trying to beat everyone else in the stadium — we've got to try and beat those guys."

But there was a sense among the Indians that they can feed off the Wrigley energy, too. Napoli seemed the most juiced for the historic night.

"Going into this, watching the National League play, I wanted to play against the Cubs because I knew the atmosphere would be unbelievable," Napoli said. "Early in my career I got to come here and (there is) just so much history. It's a park you want to come to and play.

"We played in some pretty crazy places getting to this point. Personally, I love it. It's just something that gets you going, even though you're in a visiting park. How loud they get, it's to the point where you can't even think.

"It's just a cool moment to take in and be a part of. I know it's going to be crazy, and I'm looking forward to it."

Loose, resilient Indians face their ultimate test in raucous Wrigley 10/28/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 27, 2016 10:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …