"Watching the postseason and just the feeling of being left out is indescribable," he said. "It's a terrible feeling that you don't want to have again, so I think it was extra motivation to get back and it definitely fueled the fire even more to get back to the postseason and know that we have a special group that can go far."
The Indians feel just as strongly about making this an unforgettable season, perhaps even ending Cleveland's 65-year drought between World Series titles.
Francona has no hesitation in handing the ball to Salazar (2-3), an unflappable 23-year-old who began the season at Double-A Akron but zoomed to the majors and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his debut. The Rays have never faced him.
"Believe me, we wouldn't pitch him if we weren't confident in him giving us the best chance to win," Francona said. "Danny has done nothing to make us think he can't handle this. He's so poised. If I had stuff like him, I'd be poised, too. But there's a difference between throwing 100 mph and being able to get major league hitters out. Danny can do that."
NOTES: Indians CF and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn did some agility drills and ran the bases before working out with his teammates. He pulled up with a leg injury on Sunday in Minnesota, and his status for Wednesday is not yet known. ... The teams have to have their 25-man rosters set by 10 a.m. Wednesday. .... Francona followed up on his joke about the Indians avoiding chicken and beer during his September surge, a jab at his final days in Boston. "I lied about that," he said. "We have had some chicken."