CLEVELAND -- Heading into their American League Division Series with the New York Yankees, the Cleveland Indians are trying not to make a big deal of the fact that they went 0-6 against New York this season and were outscored to the tune of 49-17 in the process. With Game 1 of the series slated for 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday at Jacobs Field, the national media has descended, and many of the questions are about the imbalance between the teams when they played head-to-head during the regular season. "We stunk both times we played," said Indians third baseman Casey Blake, who went 5-for-25 in the six games. "We were not very good at all. That was when we were probably in the worst part of our slump as a team. You can't worry about that. You have to have confidence that we're a different club now and a better team than the one we threw out against them during the regular season."
To a man, the sentiment before Tuesday's workout at the Jake was that the page has been turned. What happens during the regular season stays in the regular season -- and there's some precedence to back up that assumption. In 1988, the Mets won 10 of 11 games with the Dodgers during the regular season, outscoring them, 49-18. But when the teams met in the National League Championship Series, the underdog Dodgers defeated the Mets in seven games, including a 6-0 flogging at Dodger Stadium to win the pennant. And of course, all the questions in the days before that series were about the Mets' dominance. It's a good pre-series storyline, but once the games begin, they often take a different track. What happened before just doesn't seem to matter. "It's common sense -- it's baseball," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said on Tuesday as his team worked out at Yankee Stadium, where the series will shift for Game 3 on Sunday. "Games are not played on paper. If that was the case, we wouldn't be here -- everyone said our season was over with in May. We had a lot of games left, and you play the games for a reason. "I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that you go out and play the games and see what happens." The argument can be made that the two teams are in different places now than they were upon last meeting from April 17-19 in New York and Aug. 10-12 at Cleveland. The Yankees didn't face 19-game winner C.C. Sabathia and haven't since 2004. But the Indians didn't face Yankees 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang this year, either. Sabathia and Wang are slated to start Game 1 on Thursday evening, so that should cancel out any edge the Indians might have had. In April, the Yankees were battling through injuries and on their way to a 21-29 start. They played 73-39 baseball after May 29 to run away with the AL's Wild Card berth. In August, after the Indians took their second three-game pummeling from the Yankees, they were a half-game behind the Tigers in the AL Central and at a turning point in the season.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.