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Cleveland Indians’ Corey Kluber flushed memories of 2017 ALDS vs. Yankees a long time ago

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Manager Terry Francona has said Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco will start Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS which begins Friday at Minute Maid Park.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch told reporters that he’s going to wait to announce his pitching plans until Tuesday, but it’s safe to speculate that Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will start the first two games for the Astros.

Those four pitchers have had fine seasons, but out of the four it would seem Kluber would have the most to prove. Verlander won his World Series last year after the Tigers traded him Houston. Last year at this time Cole had just finished going 12-12 for the Pirates. This is Carrasco’s seventh season with the Indians, but when he starts Saturday in Game 2, it will be just his second postseason appearance.

Kluber and the postseason know each other well. He went 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six postseason starts in 2016. Three of those starts, all on short rest, came in the World Series.

Last year Kluber pitched well enough in the regular season to win his second Cy Young award in four years. In the ALDS against the Yankees, he made two starts and they both went sideways. The Indians managed to win Game 2 in 13 innings, but in Game 5, he allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings as the Yankees won, 5-2, to eliminate the Indians.

This year Kluber is once again a Cy Young contender. He won 20 games for the first time in his career and led the AL innings pitched, while recording more than 200 strikeouts for the fifth straight year.

When the Indians were in Kansas City over the weekend, their last stop on their last regular season trip, Kluber was asked if he sees the approaching ALDS as a chance to make things right. A chance to fix what went wrong last October.

“I don’t want this to come off the wrong way,” he said. “I think fans tend to dwell on things like that a little bit more than we do as players. When we were eliminated last year there was disappointment. Just like when we lost Game 7 of the World Series, there was disappointment.

“But I think part of preparing yourself for the next year is putting that behind you and getting ready for the next spring training, the next season, the next postseason. Just kind of always having that mentality of looking forward. There is enough to worry about without having to make up for last year, however you want to word it.”

Personally, that’s how Kluber handled his ALDS performance.

Yes, he was disappointed, but not any more than the disappointment he felt when the Indians lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Cubs.

“Obviously, the situation didn’t turn out the way we would have liked it to,” said Kluber. “Like I said it’s no different than if you have a bad start during the season. The best way to cope with that it is to flush it. If you sit and dwell on it, those things kind of eat away at you and you start carrying weight around that makes trying to do things that are difficult even more difficult. Whether it’s a pitcher pitching poorly or a hitter in a slump, guys who have experience push that aside and concentrate on the task you have for the day.”

Play ball: The Indians, who had an optional workout at Progressive Field on Monday, will have a full-scale practice Tuesday. It will include an intrasquad game.

Outfielder Tyler Naquin, rehabbing from right hip surgery in Goodyear, Ariz., returned to Cleveland on Sunday and is scheduled to play in the game. Lonnie Chisenhall was also in Goodyear on a rehab assignment for a strained left calf, but manager Terry Francona said Chisenhall had been given permission to go home to North Carolina because of possible hurricane damage to his home.

“Naquin will play in the game, so we can get a look at him,” said Francona. “Lonnie had a choice of staying in Goodyear or going home with his family because they had some stuff going on with the hurricanes.”

As for Chisenhall’s injury, Francona said, “He’s actually doing OK. He’s running the bases hitting and everything.”

Chisenhall will be a free agent after the World Series.

In 2016, the Indians sent several players to Goodyear, including Ryan Merritt, during the postseason. The idea was to keep them sharp in case the Tribe advanced and they were needed as a roster addition.

The Indians will not do that this year. They say the can accomplish what they need to get done at Progressive Field.

Dynamic duo: Switch-hitters Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez finished the regular season with a combined 239 runs, 81 doubles, 77 homers and 198 RBI.

“I don’t think (we’ve seen the best) from Frankie and Josey,” said Francona. “There might be more in there.”

Francona loves Lindor in the leadoff spot. He finished the year with 129 runs, tying Mookie Betts for the most in the big leagues.

“When he plays with that energy like that, it’s infectious for our whole team,” said Francona. “We remind him of that all the time because so often, as he goes, we go. That’s a good thing.”

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