The tight MLB playoff race is heating up in September, so contenders for the final wild card spots are naturally invoking all type of odd superstitions to gain an edge. For the Cleveland Indians, currently 3 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot, that meant bringing an unusual visitor to the ballpark on Wednesday: a so-called Rally Chicken.
In a funny nod to the "Chicken Al" nickname of rookie relief pitcher Cody Allen, starting pitcher Justin Masterson brought the feathered fan onto the field during batting practice before the game. Adorned in a Cleveland "C" cape, the sight of the majestic creature bolstered the spirits of Indians players, who subsequently went out and beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-4. The win was crucial, as it moved the Indians one game ahead of the Orioles in the wild card standings.
Manager Terry Francona had nothing but praise for the team's newest addition.
"I actually love it," Francona told reporters after the game. "They're trying to have fun, and that's the best way to be a good team. It doesn't mean we're not taking what we're doing seriously, because we really do. But yeah, I think it's a good way to come to the ballpark laughing. It's a good atmosphere."
Indian players were also complimentary of the chicken's performance.
"It was very calm," Cody Allen said. "A very calm chicken. It handled itself well."
"Hey, the chicken got us a 'W,'" pitcher Joe Smith said. "I'm sorry, Cody got us a 'W' -- Chicken pitched well tonight."
As long as the Tribe continues winning, expect the beaked wonder to stick around.
"We're going to have to get him his own locker, I guess," said Ryan Raburn. "He was in here after the game. Everybody had to give him high-fives. If we keep rolling, he's going to be here a while."