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Believeland - Against All Odds, Cleveland Sweeps Boston To Move On To ALCS

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, the incredible resilience of the Cleveland Indians shines through with a three game ALDS sweep of the juggernaut Boston Red Sox. Even before all the huge injuries to key players up and down the Indians roster, this is a series that nobody thought would go this way, and some thought Cleveland wouldn't even be in. The leadership of Terry Francona and the key deadline move to get reliever Andrew Miller guided Cleveland to the game three win, and ultimately the series. When it was announced in April that outfielder Michael Brantley would miss a good portion of the season, many thought the Indians were done; when Brantley went back on the DL in mid-may for the remainder of the season, it was again supposed to be the nail in the coffin. When struggling catcher Yan Gomes hit the disabled list on July 18th, people again waited for the Tribe to fall out of first. When Cleveland refused to relinquish their first place lead but Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco were both lost, the baseball world threw Cleveland's hopes at a deep postseason run in the garbage. When Cleveland clinched home field for the ALDS to face the baseball legend of our generation, David Ortiz, in his final postseason appearance, everybody prepared for a storybook ending in favor of the Boston star. What was Cleveland's response to all of this? Finishing the season with the AL's second best record to win the AL Central crown for the first time since 2007, and sweeping Boston to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2007. 

Cleveland outplayed Boston on every area of the field, but the credit goes to youngsters outplaying youngsters
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Factors that won the series for Cleveland

Cleveland's youth outplays Boston's - During his game three postgame interview, Indians outfielder Coco Crisp referred to his ballclub as "these kids", and he couldn't be more right. Cleveland has just twelve players on their roster with postseason experience, and when you cut out the guys who only had it for one game in the Indians 2013 Wild Card game, you're down to just eight. If you really wanna get nit-picky and cut it down to only players with significant postseason experience, bump out Michael Martinez and Chris Gimenez to drop the number to six. While Boston's roster carried 16 players with postseason experience, many of them saw little to no playing time, leaving the bulk of the weight on the youngsters. Many felt that the presence and leadership of David Ortiz, among others, would lead young players like Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley JR through the playoffs, but Cleveland wasn't buying it. Boston's keystone youngsters Betts, Bradley, and Bogaerts went a combined 5-32 (.156) with 12 strikeouts, while Cleveland had little known heroes like Roberto Perez, Jose Ramirez, and Lonnie Chisenhall go 8-23 (.348) with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and six runs scored. Let's also not forget what happened in game one - 

Miller and the Indians staff pitches masterfully against the regular season's best offense - When Cleveland brought Andrew Miller into the fold, it was the signal to everybody that they were ready for a historic October run. Cleveland gave up a haul of big prospects for a reliever, who so far in this postseason alone has shown why they did it. Miller struck out 7 over four scoreless innings in the ALDS, all of which were extremely high leverage innings for the Indians. The rest of the Indians staff, including Cody Allen who locked down two high stress level saves, did an incredible job of keeping the Red Sox bats silent. The Indians staff posted a 2.33 ERA, holding Boston to just seven earned runs, preventing David Ortiz from anymore magical moments (Ortiz went just 1-9 on the series). 

Terry Francona and the Indians will begin prep for a seven game ALCS with the Toronto Blue Jays
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The postseason is far from over for Cleveland, as they look to get eight more wins to accomplish every player's dream. While the Toronto Blue Jays will be not be even remotely easy for Cleveland to defeat, and if they advance to the World Series it will get even tougher, one has to wonder if one of the most magical World Series wins in history is in store for this team. After all the speed bumps Cleveland has overcome and all the resiliency they have shown, absolutely nothing would cap off this fairy-tail like season than a World Series win. Second Baseman Jason Kipnis said "We believe this is our year and nobody can tell us any different" following their AL Central division clinching game, and after the sweep of Boston maybe some more people believe it. Nobody would have believed that Cleveland would overcome all the odds that they have to even be in the playoffs, let alone sweep the ALDS. Why would a World Series be any more unbelievable? 

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