Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona faces his old team in the postseason for the first time, opening the 2016 American League Division Series at home against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night at Progressive Field.
The 8:08 p.m. ET start is the second of two AL games on Thursday, and will be televised by TBS.
Francona managed the Red Sox for eight years and won a pair of World Series in Boston, including the franchise’s first championship in 86 years in 2004. This is Francona’s second playoff appearance in his four years in Cleveland, also guiding the Indians to the American League Wild Card Game in 2013.
Current Red Sox manager John Farrell won a World Series in 2013 in his first year in Boston, like Francona, but that’s not the only link between the two managers. Farrell was Francona’s pitching coach for four years (2007-10), and the two were teammates on the 1988 Indians.
“The one thing that he always spoke of is to be true to yourself,” Farrell told reporters on Wednesday. “What is meant by that is if you've done your work, if you've prepared to the point of decisions that are to be made, and making those decisions, if you're true to that process, true to yourself, you can live with the scrutiny, the criticism or balance it with times that are successful.”
Rick Porcello came into his own in the first year of a four-year, $82 million contract extension with Boston, and will start Game 1 for the Red Sox. The 27-year-old right-hander was 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 33 starts, with 189 strikeouts and just 32 walks in 223 innings.
“Maintaining a level of consistency has been the most important thing for me,” Porcello said on Wednesday. “I'm not going to go out there and blow 98 by guys or have some nasty wipeout pitch, but I can go after a lineup with my repertoire, and hopefully I have a weapon for each hitter, and the things that they don't like to hit I can attack them with.
“And I think that's been the biggest thing is being able to be consistent with those pitches and attacking those weaknesses.”
Trevor Bauer gets the start for Cleveland in the series opener, with the possibility looming of potentially also starting Game 4 on three days rest, an opportunity the right-hander relishes.
"I make certain sacrifices to be able to be healthy and durable and log a lot of innings," Bauer told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. "All the research I've done, all the hard work I've put in, and all the smart work that I've put in, it's paying dividends. I'm on the right track in the development path I've set myself on. I'm in a really good spot moving forward. I'm in a really good spot for this year and for future years."
ALDS Game 1 info
When: 8:08 p.m. ET
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland
TV: TBS, with Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling, Cal Ripken Jr. and Sam Ryan on the call
Streaming: Watch TBS app or Postseason.tv
Radio: ESPN Radio