What a year this has been for the Cleveland Indians — and for that matter for Cleveland, period. After seeing the Cavs end a 52-year drought without a sports championship and shatter every jinx in doing so, and then hosting the Republican Convention without a hitch, the Best Location in the Nation now sees the astonishing Indians hoist the American League pennant and move on to the World Series.
Well, why not? In a year when the Indians have overcome injuries to key players that produced a decimated starting pitching staff — and that saw the Tribe experience the first blood-soaked drone injury in recorded MLB history — why wouldn’t you expect, Ryan Merritt, a rookie who has thrown all of 11 innings in the big leagues, and who was predicted to be “shaking in his boots” by a Toronto player, to go out and pitch lights out, like a grizzled veteran? And why wouldn’t you expect the offense to produce just enough runs to get the game into the fifth inning with a lead? And why wouldn’t you expect the Indians’ duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to once again shut down the Toronto Blue Jays’ powerful lineup and close out another nail-biting win?
Consider the results of AL championship series. Toronto came in after having battered Texas pitching and romped to a three-game sweep over the Rangers. The Tribe pitching staff sucked it up and held the Blue Jays scoreless twice — in the opener and the clinching game — and gave up one run, two runs, and five runs in the other three games. For the math-challenged among us, that’s eight runs in five games. Miller’s ERA during the series was 0.00. Allen’s ERA was 0.00. And the Indians bullpen had one game where it pitched 8 1/3 innings to secure the victory. It’s got to be one of the most amazing pitching performances in any baseball series in history. And, it’s got to be one of the most amazing managerial performances in baseball history, too. Would anyone but Terry Francona have kept his cool, kept his battered team focused, and used his bullpen so deftly? And, by the way, wasn’t the trade for Andrew Miller the best trade in Cleveland Indians history, without any conceivable argument?
So now the Tribe moves on, with the AL pennant in hand, to face either the Cubs or the Dodgers. This year, in Cleveland, anything is possible. I’ll be looking forward to the World Series, and I’ll be thinking one thing:
There are no jinxes!