By Larry Fine
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Terry Francona swept the first two World Series that teams he managed played in, but despite losing to the Chicago Cubs in a thrilling Game Seven on Wednesday, the skipper said it was an honor just to have been in such a game.
"That was an incredible game, I mean, to be a part of," said Francona, who managed the Boston Red Sox to Fall Classic sweeps in 2004 and 2007, about Wednesday's 8-7 loss that ended the 2016 World Series.
"It's going to hurt. It hurts because we care, but they need to walk with their head held high because they left nothing on the field.
"That's all the things we ever ask them to do. They tried until there was nothing left."
Cleveland, striving to win their first Major League Baseball championship since 1948, battled back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game at 6-6 with three runs in the eighth inning after being just four outs away defeat.
After the Cubs scored two runs in the top of the 10th, the Indians rallied again with a run that put them one behind and had a man on base before Chicago finally finished them off, ending their own 108-year title drought.
“That was some kind of game. Somebody was going to win, somebody was going to lose," said Francona, who knows something about a hex having ended the "Curse of the Bambino" when Boston won the 2004 World Series to end an 86-year championship drought. "I wish they’d lost.
"There was a lot of good baseball."
Francona said the Cubs were a lot like his team.
"They’re a good team, they keep coming at you," he said about the Cubs. "That was tough. We tied it and a lot of teams might fold. They didn’t.
"We didn’t either, we just ran out of time."
Francona said he held a short meeting with the team after the painful loss.
"I just wanted to thank them from me and the coaches, because it’s an honor to go through something like this with this group.
"I just thought they deserved to hear that."
(Editing by Steve Keating.)