DETROIT -- The Indians have stumbled on their six-game road trip, losing the first five games. They enter Sunday's finale against the Tigers 8 1/2 games back in the American League Central and 4 1/2 games behind for the second AL Wild Card spot.
"We lost three close ones in Atlanta," manager Terry Francona said. "We've had a tough road trip as far as results go. There's no getting around that. We haven't put ourselves in a very good position for where we are trying to get. But until somebody tells you you're out of it, you go 100 mph and keep playing."
The Cardinals were 8 1/2 games back for the National League Wild Card in 2011 before they stormed back on their way to a World Series title. While the Indians don't have as much ground to make up, those wild September finishes help provide a road to follow.
"Do we have to do something special? Yeah maybe," Francona said. "There's always a special team. You want it to be you. It's not easy. It's not supposed to be, but you do the best you can."
While Cleveland fans have seen struggles at the end of the season before, this is a team that has also battled back from losing streaks all season to remain in the playoff race.
"It's a long year, you're going to have frustrations," Francona said. "There's no way around that. That's the way the game is."
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.