Tito's Tribe on a roll

BOSTON -- Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is setting himself up for a spirited return to Boston this week. His Cleveland Indians are in first place in the AL Central, 2½ games ahead of Detroit, where the Indians visit for two games prior to arriving in Boston for a four-game set beginning Thursday night.

The Indians have won five in a row, including three walk-offs in the span of four games against the Seattle Mariners, who managed to lose, 10-8, Monday afternoon despite hitting home runs in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings.

Sox manager John Farrell and Francona are close friends, having worked together in both Cleveland and Boston, where Farrell was Francona’s pitching coach for four seasons. Asked if he’d heard from Tito lately, Farrell said no. “He’s too busy winning,’’ Farrell said.

Yes, Farrell said, he’s been paying attention.

“I think everybody in baseball is watching,’’ he said. “They’ve got a very good baseball team, they’re playing with a heck of a lot of confidence, they walk a win off seemingly every day. We’ve got our work to take care of in this series [in Chicago] but this weekend will be a strong challenge for us.’’