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Francona, Indians have their eye on home field

Francona, Indians have their eye on home field

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians have a chance over their final two games of the regular season to secure a spot in the American League Wild Card Game. Given the ups and downs of Cleveland's season, manager Terry Francona is hoping his team is able to give its fans at least one more game at home.

The Tribe would have that chance if it can finish in sole possession of the top AL Wild Card spot.

"To be honest with you," Francona said on Saturday, "for all we've been through, I'd love to play a game in Cleveland. I think that would be really rewarding for the fans. I think that'd be really cool."

That is one reason why -- regardless of the scenario -- the Indians will likely start Ubaldo Jimenez in Sunday's series finale with the Twins. Jimenez has been Cleveland's best pitcher in the second half, and the club might have home-field advantage for the Wild Card Game within reach.

Francona added that he has appreciated the growing support down the stretch from Cleveland's fans, some of whom he has had the chance to chat with while living downtown in his first season as the team's manager. When the Indians are at home, Francona can often be spotted zipping to and from Progressive Field on a scooter.

That has also led to some humorous situations.

"I've gotten to know every cop downtown. It's hilarious," Francona said. "One night, shoot, it was fireworks night, which is the worst night [to drive home]. I get out and I get to that crosswalk there on Prospect [Ave.], and they let the people pass, so I'm sitting there at the light.

"I've got my briefcase, I've got my dinner and I'm on my scooter. Here comes a cop walking over and he's like high-fiving me."

There have also been jabs tossed Francona's way after tough losses.

"I've heard a few smart [aleck] remarks. I don't blame them," Francona said with a smile. "I get to 4th St. and you're not supposed to drive a vehicle down there. So when I get to 4th St., I get off and push it just out of respect. Inevitably, you get the younger guys that are drinking that say something stupid.

"But I feel [dumb] when I'm pushing my scooter, so I just kind of take it."

Did Francona ever consider commuting on a scooter during his days in Boston?

"Are you kidding me? I barely even drove my car," Francona said, laughing. "Hate mail is way down this year. It's not gone, but it's way down."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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