CLEVELAND -- The Indians beat the Orioles on Tuesday in front of what was a historically small crowd for a September game at Progressive Field.
Both clubs have realistic chances of securing an American League Wild Card spot, adding serious postseason ramifications to this week's series in Cleveland. And though the Indians -- who entered Wednesday with a record of 73-65 -- are firmly in contention in September, just 9,962 fans came to Progressive Field to watch them duel a talented and intriguing Orioles team on Tuesday.
"I think everybody would rather play to a packed house," manager Terry Francona said before Wednesday's series finale against Baltimore. "It's more fun. [There's] more enthusiasm in the ballpark. I also know that this city has been hit pretty hard in these times."
Since Jacobs Field opened in 1994, the venue has never hosted a September crowd as small as the one that showed up on Tuesday to see Ubaldo Jimenez throw six scoreless innings against a Baltimore lineup that features stars such as Chris Davis and Manny Machado.
"Of course, we notice," Jimenez said afterward. "What can we do? We're in the playoff chase. We just got 9,000 people. There's nothing we can do. We have to go out there and try to compete -- whoever is in there rooting for us."
With a 41-27 record at Progressive Field, the Tribe has the fifth best home record in the league and the 10th best home record in baseball. The Indians have also won nine games in their last at-bat, including a Major League-leading five walk-off home runs.
As their push for the playoffs continues during the season's final month, the Indians are undoubtedly hoping to entertain more fans in their home park.
"The people that come are very loyal," Francona said. "I guess the way I'd view it is the people that come and the people that watch the Indians, I hope they leave happy."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.