With no World Series game to play Friday, there was nothing for the Florida Marlins and Cleveland Indians to do but think.
To the Marlins, holding a 3-2 edge going into tonight’s Game 6, that meant reflecting on how far they’ve come.
“I think being here since the beginning, I’m enjoying this more than anybody else,” said reserve infielder Alex Arias, one of the Marlins’ original players from the 1993 expansion club.
“That first season, we had a lot of young players and a lot of us didn’t know how to play the game. We didn’t even know how to act because we hadn’t had the chance to be in the big leagues. You look back and you can laugh at the teal helmets we had. We didn’t even have name tags on our bags. We just had a piece of paper with our name on it.”
Arias contributed to Thursday night’s Game 5 win at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, scoring in the ninth inning as a pinch-runner on Moises Alou’s single, giving Florida an 8-4 lead. The Marlins needed his run because the Indians rallied to score three times in the bottom of the ninth before falling short 8-7.
Now, Florida will send ace Kevin Brown against Chad Ogea in hopes of becoming the youngest club to win the World Series.
“This whole franchise has come a long way in so many ways,” Arias said. “All I know is we have a lot of work to do. One game doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a good step.”
To the Indians, who have not won the championship since 1948, an off-day with no workouts meant looking ahead to what might happen this weekend. Cleveland needs two wins to become the seventh road team to win Games 6 and 7 in the World Series.
The Indians split two games last weekend at Pro Player Stadium, where the Marlins had the best home record in the majors this year.
“I was surprised I wouldn’t say relaxed at how normal playing in Florida the first time felt,” Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said.
“I’m not an old hand at it, but I know I don’t ever remember relaxing in ‘95 in the World Series. I know that things have been a little more normal this time.”
Still, the odds are against the Indians. The last three World Series have all ended the same way - with the home team clinching the championship in Game 6. That’s what happened two years ago when Cleveland traveled back to Atlanta for Game 6 and lost to the Braves 1-0.
“In ‘95, having to go to Atlanta down 3-2, we didn’t know what to expect,” Indians first baseman Jim Thome said. “We’re in the same situation now, but we know we need to win Game 6 first.
“We watched the Braves celebrate then and it was disheartening to see them win the world championship.”
Whether Cleveland can change around the momentum again tonight will soon be seen. In any case, the weather will certainly be different.
After snow and wind-chill factors in the teens at Cleveland, the temperature for Game 6 is expected to be balmy and in the 80s.
“All of us love warm weather, especially playing baseball,” Marlins catcher Charles Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to taking BP (batting practice) in shorts and getting out of this cold weather.”