Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has seen firsthand how passionate Cleveland fans can be.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title in June, erasing the city’s 52-year major sports championship drought, he was perched up high in the bleachers at Progressive Field to view the parade.
“I thought it was wonderful for the city,” Francona said.
“I mean, it was hard not to get caught up in it. Shoot, the day of the parade I know myself and there were a lot of us, I went up to the upper deck just because I wanted to watch the parade. From that vantage point, I think they were expecting 700,000 and I think they about doubled it. And from up in the upper deck you could see the people coming across the bridge in droves.”
The Indians have a chance to have a parade of their own, as they enter Game 6 of the World Series up 3-2 against the Chicago Cubs. A win Tuesday night would give them their first championship since 1948.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin will be working on three days’ rest. In his last start, which came when Cleveland won Game 3, he threw just 58 pitches.
“The preparation on the field really doesn’t change that much,” Tomlin said Monday. “You listen to your body a little bit more on days like today and days like the couple days leading up to it just because you know you don’t have that bullpen day or that longer bullpen day. And you probably don’t get in two lifts, but I think you just listen to your body. Do what you’re capable of doing in the days leading up to this.
“But I think that’s the most important thing is just kind of — the 58 pitches is, yeah, it’s 58 pitches. So it’s obviously a little better than throwing 100 or 110, but in this environment you’re still getting up and down four or five times and a little more stressful than a regular season start.”
When the Cavaliers won the NBA title, they came back from a 3-1 deficit. The Cubs — who forced the series back to Cleveland after winning Game 5 on Sunday night — are trying to do the same thing. Should they pull it off, they would become the first team to win the World Series after trailing 3-1 since 1985. Only five MLB teams have done it.
But there’s an even bigger drought at stake than that: The Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908.
“I’ve never been looking forward to wanting to play the seventh game of a World Series in my life,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after winning Game 5.
The Cubs have another reason to be happy they’re back in at Progressive Field. They get their slugger Kyle Schwarber back as DH in the American League ballpark.
Schwarber, who missed most of the season following surgery for a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee, returned just in time for the World Series, going 3-for-7 with two RBIs in Games 1 and 2.
But because of the knee, he was out of the starting lineup for Games 3-5 as he wasn’t medically cleared to play in the outfield. He had just one at-bat in Chicago as a pinch hitter, and it was a quiet pop fly out off Indians reliever Bryan Shaw.
“I’m a much bigger fan of the National League game in general, but under these circumstances where we are right now in the year, I’ll take that American League game just to get Schwarbs involved,” Maddon said Monday.
The Cubs are hoping they won’t need the bullpen early, as Chicago starter Jake Arrieta is coming off five days’ rest. They’ll hope for him to go deep into the game, as closer Aroldis Chapman pitched a career-high 2 2/3 innings to collect an eight-out save in Game 5.
“I don’t know that we could do what we did (Sunday), necessarily,” Maddon said of Chapman. “But I’ll talk to him (Tuesday). He’s a pretty strong guy. Beyond that I don’t think we’ve overused him to this point.”