Twins-Indians rained out, doubleheader Thursday
CLEVELAND (AP) A year after flourishing down the stretch and landing a playoff spot, the Cleveland Indians are trying to do it again.
Manager Terry Francona's one-day-at-a-time approach last season paid off with a wild-card berth. The Indians went 21-6 in September, including a 10-game winning streak to end the season.
Cleveland, which is five games out in both the AL Central and wild-card race, will need a similar finish this time. The Indians and Minnesota Twins will play a doubleheader Thursday after Wednesday night's game was postponed by rain.
Francona realizes that every day is crucial with 19 games to play, but his philosophy is staying the same.
''Changing your colors, changing your stripes doesn't help players play better,'' he said. ''Thinking too far ahead doesn't help. The best way to put yourself in that position is to take care of your business at hand. I just think that makes sense.''
The Indians dropped the series opener 4-3 on Tuesday, a difficult loss to a team that has the second-worst record in the AL.
''Screaming and yelling doesn't make guys swing the bat and doesn't make you score runs,'' Francona said. ''This is a game of almost who can handle frustration the best because there's so much of it.''
Francona admits it's not always easy to maintain that philosophy on a personal level.
''I probably don't on the inside,'' he said. ''I do the best I can on the outside. This game's really hard. I know that better than anybody.''
The Indians won six of seven before dropping three of four in a crucial series to Detroit last week. Cleveland swept three games from the Chicago White Sox before losing Tuesday.
''We've got a good group,'' Francona said. ''We show up and play as well as we can and see where it takes you. You get down to the last week and maybe be aware of your surroundings, but I don't know if you can start doing crazy stuff. That doesn't really work.''
Wednesday's game was called off about two hours before the scheduled first pitch. Strong storms were in the forecast into early Thursday morning. The day off will give the Twins some rest before they try to do more damage to Cleveland's playoff hopes.
''We've got to hold on to that mentality, to be honest,'' said reliever Brian Duensing, one of five pitchers the Twins used in Tuesday's win. ''I think we owe it to the game of baseball. If we were to just come out and shut it down and not really give 100 percent, it's not fair to the game. We've got to try and play spoiler and make it as difficult as possible on people.''
Indians ace Corey Kluber (14-9) will start game one against right-hander Kyle Gibson (11-10). Left-hander T.J. House (2-3) will pitch game two for the Indians against Ricky Nolasco (5-10).