The Cleveland Indians are the underdogs in this year’s World Series, but that doesn’t mean a thing to the players; they’ve been hearing it all year long. Coming into the year, they were expected to finish behind the defending champions, the Kansas City Royals, for the American League Central division. They shattered that expectation with a 14-game winning streak in June that gave them a lead in the division they never relinquished.
But the road was not easy. In the final month of the season, the Indians suffered injuries to two of the league’s top pitchers, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, as well as their Silver Slugger and catcher, Yan Gomes, who was on the brink of a comeback from an unrelated injury. Add that to the fact that All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley was limited to just 13 at bats the whole season due to shoulder injuries, and the Indians were lacking in key positions.
Despite winning 94 games and securing the second seed in the American League, Cleveland found themselves underdogs to the red-hot Red Sox led by retiring legend David Ortiz. In the face of injuries and low expectations, the Indians swept the Red Sox — holding them to just seven runs scored in three games — and sent David Ortiz home to an early retirement.
This led them to an American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, another top-five offense and another series favored against Cleveland. But again, the Indians ruined those projections with stellar pitching from starters Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin and rookie Ryan Merritt. That included a Game 3 win pitched almost entirely by the Andrew Miller-led bullpen after starter Trevor Bauer had to leave the game for reopening a gruesome wound.
And so here we are at the World Series. The Cubs have just finished an amazing season as the best team in baseball and clinched their first pennant since 1945 against a pitcher who some have called the greatest of all time, Clayton Kershaw. To many it seems that their storybook season will end on a high note and end the longest championship drought in sports history.
But don’t tell the Indians that.
The city of Cleveland has its own storybook to finish. After Lebron James and the Cavaliers ended the curse by coming back from a 3-1 finals deficit, effectively ending Cleveland’s 52 year and 147 season championship drought, the Indians are looking to put a cap on the greatest year in the city’s history with a championship of their own. The injuries, hardships and obstacles that they’ve had to overcome are nothing more than an exciting plot to the storybook that the Tribe is looking to finish off with a happy ending.
The Indians may be seemingly outmatched by Kris Bryant and the Cubbies’ All-Star team, but the Indians do have some studs despite all their injuries. Cy Young award winner Kluber, strikeout machine Miller, young stud at the plate and in the field Francisco Lindor, speedy Jose Ramirez and the rest of the squad are nothing to scoff at and they’ve made a hobby of upsetting teams this October. Don’t count this team out until it’s all said and done. Cleveland might just shock the world yet again this year.