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Sports


If history is any indication, this is the Indians' year
The last time the Indians played a one-game playoff was 1948, the year they won the World Series
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
The Indians went 21-6 in September to pass Texas and Tampa Bay to win the top wild card spot.
Download (WKSU Only)

The Cleveland Indians have done the improbable this season: Won 92 games and made the playoffs for the first time in six years. But, as quickly as the excitement has built in Cleveland, it could all end tonight, as the Tribe plays one game against the Tamp Bay Rays at Progressive Field for the American League wild card. 

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks about the Tribe's remarkable September, the last time they were in a one-game playoff situation and what we can expect from the Rays.

LISTEN: Terry Pluto commentary: Indians wild card game

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:51)


A September to remember
This Indians finished out the season on a 10-game winning streak – and a falter during any one of those could have cost them a shot at the wild card.

“But this pressure will be just a a little bit different for them...because in effect this is the the whole baseball nation watching,” Terry Pluto says. Tonight’s game is the only one in baseball, and “you either win this game or it’s over.”

The Indians have the home-field advantage and “probably think they can beat  anyone," Pluto says – with reason. The team was 51-30 during the regular season and won 11 of those games with their last at bats.

“(But) Tampa Bay’s pretty good. It’s a tough one.”

Putting their faith in a rookie
With starter Justin Masterson injured and limited to just a few innings, and Ubaldo Jiminez pitching Sunday, the Indians are starting rookie pitcher Danny Salazar. Pluto says Salazar has turned in performances that justify Manager Terry Francona making that choice.

“Salazar has this tremendous stuff, 96 mph fastball, 98.” And last month, he put that fastball to use in front of a sell-out crowd in Detroit.

“Salazar pitched against I would say the best lineup in the American League on the road in front of a crowd that doesn’t like you” – and won.

History bodes well for Tribe in one-game playoffs
The last time the Indians fate hung on a one-game postseason series was in 1948, when Cleveland and Boston finished with identical 96-58 records – in the days before the American League has wild cards and division championships.

The Indians “played an afternoon game in Cleveland, took 12-hour train ride to Boston to play an afternoon game the next day. They had to walk 10 blocks from the train station in Boston to their hotel. They were there for about an hour and then just walked over to Fenway.”

Where, they beat Boston, and then went on to beat the Boston Braves to win the World Series.  

From the perspective of 65 years later, Pluto says it’s easy for fans to think of Cleveland as a dominant team then, “but they were one game away from not getting to the World Series.”

Pluto acknowledges it could be an omen. But he’s also a realist.

A tough test tonight
“Even if I weren’t a skeptical beaten-down Cleveland fan over the years, Tampa would scare me. They have really good pitching. They’ve been in the playoffs for four of the last six years. They’ve always been kind of the little team that could. They may not win the title, but they make everyone’s life miserable.

“It’s a scary game, but the point is: It’s a big game and a meaningful game and a game I never thought we’d see at this point for the Indians.”

Listen: Pluto on Browns QB Brian Hoyer
Other options:
MP3 Download
(3:28)

Related WKSU Stories

Two big wins for Cleveland sports fans
Monday, September 30, 2013

Manager Francona says there is no single MVP this Indians season
Monday, September 30, 2013

Indians fans start to say, 'Maybe this year'
Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pluto: Can Cleveland sports fans handle winning?
Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Indians may return to playoffs, but fans will return...when?
Monday, September 23, 2013

Pluto: What it will take for the Tribe to play in October
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

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