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Notes: Lewis rises from anonymity

Notes: Lewis rises from anonymity

BOSTON -- The Rafaels and the cardiac-inducing closer they set up get the notoriety.

Jensen Lewis, meanwhile, just continues to get the outs.

Joining Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez and Joe Borowski, he's the unheralded fourth man helping out with the Tribe's back-end brilliance in the '07 season and the playoffs. The 23-year-old Lewis rose from the obscurity of the Minor Leagues on July 13 and has effortlessly worked himself into a prominent middle-relief role since.

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"It's awesome," Lewis said. "It's a confidence booster. You appreciate the situation and you know the role is something that's going to help the team win. That makes it even more motivating to get the job done."

The job at hand is the Indians' advancement toward a World Series title. Lewis, who grew up a Tribe fan in Medina, Ohio, and, later, Cincinnati, appreciates that goal as much as anyone. He knows the history -- not just of the Omar Vizquels and Jim Thomes who couldn't quite get over the championship hump, but also of the core Indians players he shares a locker room with.

"We're pitching for the guys who have played a long time here," Lewis said. "You understand the hierarchy, but you also understand the guys you're playing for, and you know they're playing for you, too. That's what makes it so special, is you have 25 guys on the same page who believe in the same goal."

Lewis might have had a goal of helping this club out by the end of the '07 season, but to be 100-percent confident in it might have been viewed as unrealistic.

After all, Lewis was hardly viewed as being on the organizational radar at the outset of the season, when he was converted from starting to relief work at Double-A Akron.

The first month of the season saw him go through the necessary ups and downs that come with that adjustment. In early May, however, he scrapped his curveball for his slider -- after doing the exact opposite a year earlier, to speed his advancement to Double-A -- and found immediate results. Between Akron and Triple-A Buffalo, he had a 0.68 ERA, allowing three earned runs over 40 innings, from May 1 until his big league promotion.

"It was a huge difference maker," Lewis said of that repertoire refinement. "That's probably the reason I'm here, more than anything. It gave me an out pitch, so hitters weren't sitting on my fastball. It did its purpose."

Lewis has done his purpose out of the 'pen for the Tribe. He went 1-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 26 appearances for the Tribe, as 21 of his 26 outings were scoreless.

And the postseason stage did nothing to intimidate him. He pitched one inning in Game 1 at Jacobs Field and another in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, plowing past all six batters he faced and striking out four of them.

"It's one of those things where it's a dream come true and you don't want to wake up," Lewis said. "You want to keep it going and keep the momentum. Hopefully, we're having this same conversation next week and the week after that. Then I can really tell you how meaningful it is."

Green to the scene: As was the case in their series with the Yankees, the Indians are fielding questions about their lack of postseason experience, relative to that of their opponent.

Many of the Red Sox, of course, have been to the American Leauge Championship Series before. Boston's players have a combined 126 games of LCS experience under their belts. The Indians, at 63 games, have exactly half of that, with 33 of the 63 coming from postseason regular Kenny Lofton.

The Red Sox have eight players who have played in at least five LCS games. The Indians have two -- Lofton and Trot Nixon.

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Center fielder Grady Sizemore, one of the many Indians players who got his first whiff of October last week, doesn't seem concerned with the Tribe's wide-eyed look during this round.

"We played well [in the AL Division Series]," said Sizemore, who had a .524 on-base percentage in the series. "We didn't get rattled, we stuck with our game plan and we came out on top. The first series is probably the toughest for some guys who haven't been there. I know for me what it was like. I'm definitely more relaxed going into this series."

Too close for comfort: The last time the Indians and Red Sox met, at Jacobs Field in late July, the two clubs put together back-to-back 1-0 games. The Indians lost the first on July 24 and won the second on July 25.

How rare is that? Well, according to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time two AL clubs split consecutive 1-0 games since 1975, when the Angels and Rangers did so.

The scary thing is, given the strength of the pitching on both of these clubs and the cold temperatures expected this weekend at Fenway Park, it's not out of the question that it could happen again.

"There's always that possibility," Wedge said. "It's nothing you can ever predict. You've got two good teams, they get after it and anything is possible."

It's not working out: The Indians' efforts to get a pre-ALCS workout in just haven't panned out.

On Wednesday, the club's scheduled workout at The Jake was scrapped because of rain. The team was forced to hit indoors and play catch on the outfield grass.

The rain followed the Tribe to Boston. The Red Sox had their scheduled afternoon workout, but by the time the Indians were scheduled to take the field, dark clouds and wet skies had descended upon Fenway Park.

Tribe tidbits: ALCS rosters are due into the Commissioner's Office by 10 a.m. ET on Friday. The Indians don't appear to be making any changes to theirs, but they are holding off on an announcement until the deadline. ... This is the fourth time the Indians and Red Sox have met in October. The Indians are 8-4 all-time in playoff games against Boston. They swept the Sox in the 1995 ALDS; beat them, 3-1, in the '98 ALDS; and fell, 3-2, in the '99 ALDS. ... The Indians own a record of 10-8 in ALCS play since 1995. They have gone 6-3 at home and 4-5 on the road.

On deck: Game 1 of the ALCS begins at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday at Fenway Park. Left-hander C.C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.40 ERA in postseason) will oppose right-hander Josh Beckett (1-0, 0.00 ERA). The game will be broadcast nationally by FOX and ESPN Radio. In the Cleveland area, it can be heard on WTAM and the Indians Radio Network.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }
{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }