CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Long before Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin clubbed back-to-back homers, sending the Indians to a 3-2 walk-off win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, Cleveland’s dugout still believed victory was imminent.
In particular, Friday’s starter, Trevor Bauer, never felt like his club would be taking the loss in the series opener.
“There was never a second that I thought we were going to lose the game,” Bauer said. “That was a playoff atmosphere against a playoff-caliber team. That’s fun. Those games are fun. That’s what you play baseball for, games like that.”
That common feeling throughout the club was not because they were facing a sub par closer. In fact, Roberto Osuna has been anything but for the Jays in 2016, successfully converting 27-of-29 save chances this season.
So, where did the Indians’ confidence come from?
“It’s because we are playing well together and we are good teammates to each other,” Ramirez said through the team’s translator, Anna Bolton. “We believe in ourselves. We are a good team, and we can come back in situations like that.”
Truly, the Tribe has reason to be confident.
Cleveland has pulled off 26 come-from-behind victories this season. Seven wins have been of the walk-off variety. The Indians are 8-3 in games decided in the last at-bat.
And while Cleveland has certainly been better when scoring first (49-16), falling behind hasn’t been a death sentence for the club, winning 21 games after opposing teams put up the game’s first run.
Lately, the Indians feel like they’re never out of any game. That faith has made them one of baseball’s toughest teams to face at home, posting a 38-22 record (.633) at Progressive Field this season.
“Just because some nights when you don’t win, it doesn’t mean [guys don’t believe],” manager Terry Francona said. “I think the guys play until it’s time to go home. We’ve done that all year. It’s one of our qualities that I admire about our guys. I say it a lot of times when we come in here after a tough loss, we can win some of those games… They’re hard games to win, but every once in a while, you might win one of those.”
And back-to-back wins of the walk-off variety — especially after trailing early in both recently contests — certainly only add to the growing belief for the first-place club.
“Mostly it’s just a confidence thing, though,” Bauer said. “Everybody believes we’re going to win. There wasn’t a second in that game where I’d feel like anybody thought we were going to lose, even though we were down the whole game. Confidence is a big thing.”