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October 14, 2007
Live from Cleveland
Here are a few tidbits from today's off-day:
**With Red Sox manager Terry Francona on the national stage, he’s been very jovial during his daily press conferences the last couple of week, and yesterday was no different. Now that the series has switched to Cleveland, the site of the nasty bug plague during the Indians’ ALDS against the Yankees, the Red Sox manager was asked about the possibility of the gnats returning.
“Anytime there’ve been bugs on my body, I’m not sure I felt real comfortable about talking about it,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I guess it’s kind of like rain. If it rains, you handle it. If it snows, you handle it. If it’s cold, you handle it. I guess if there are bugs, you get bug spray.”
Monday's starter for the Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, was also asked about the situation if it should occur, the Japanese import said he also brought along some spray.
**For all the talk about the Red Sox offense in the postseason, the club’s defense has been solid, too. Manny Ramirez made two spectacular plays in left field in Game One of this series, as did J.D. Drew. Those highlight-reel plays are not always the best.
“We have been playing good crisp defense,” said Francona. “Making the extreme plays are good, but just making the plays you’re supposed to is probably more important.”
The scouting report the Red Sox have on the Indians is pretty impressive, because Boston’s defense has been in the right place most of the time to make plays seem routine, especially in the infield.
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell has been positioned perfectly for every Indians batter, as is shortstop Julio Lugo and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. In Game Two on Saturday, Lowell recorded three put-outs and assisted on four others.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 7:17 PM | Permalink
UPDATED: Complete Curt Schilling transcript
On whether it's difficult to rebound from such a defeat
It's not difficult to rebiund from, not given the makeup of this team. You know, as far as how anyone feels, there's no that should feel bad in that clubhouse except me. Everything about this one falls on me.
The way [Fausto Carmona] was throwing early in the game and the way we were hitting and our at-bats, you know we were going to grind it out on him or we were going to run him out of the game early. We put together a great inning [in the third], take a lead, and up to the [Jhonny] Peralta at-bat [a three-run homer in the fourth] I still had it in and I let it get away.
Next thing, unfortunately our bullpen in those situations, it's bordering on minimal. Fifth inning you're asking your bullpen to come in and throw zeroes against that team for however long it was going to take, and that's just not fair to them. This was all about me coming up small in a big game.
On whether he wanted a shut-down inning in the fourth
I felt that all night. I think we would have won the game [if] I go out there [in the fourth] and put up a zero. I'm not taking anything away from [the Indians] because they won this game. The home run that Jhonny hit is going to be one that I'll wonder about forever, simply because based on what -- our history, what we did to them yesterday, what we did to them the first at-bat, I went to the pitch I wanted to go to, I threw the pitch I wanted to throw, I hit my spot, and he hit a home run. I'm not used to that one.
He put a great swing on a pitch. I thought it was the right pitch; obviously, it wasn't. It's a 3-1 homer because obviously the guys ahead of him -- 0-2 to Garko, I try to throw a high fastball and then Victor hits a groundball and finds a hole.
But it was a game, had I executed, we should have won. We should have won, and they took it from me, which eventually meant they took it from us.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 3:07 PM | Permalink
INDIANS 13, RED SOX 6: Postgame stats and notes
-- This was the first extra-inning ALCS game since Game Five of the 2004 ALCS, when the Red Sox beat the Yankees in 14 innings
-- Since 2002, the home team in an LCS has won Game One five teams, but has advanced to the World Series just once.
-- The first nine innings took 4 hours and 23 minutes to play. Had the game ended in nine, it would have been the longest nine-inning game in ALCS history.
-- The Indians' seven-run 11th inning was the highest-scoring, tie-breaking final inning in ALCS play. The previous record was three.
-- The 4 2/3 innings pitched by Curt Schilling marked the second-shortest postseason start of his career. The shortest was the three innings he pitched in Game One of the 2004 ALCS, when his ankle injury forced him from the game.
-- Mike Timlin made his 22nd career LCS appearance, three behind Mariano Rivera for the LCS record.
-- The Red Sox utilitized an LCS-record eight pitchers. The teams combined to use 14 pitchers, matching an LCS record for most pitchers used in an extra-inning game.
Posted by Art Martone at 3:06 PM | Permalink
IN-GAME TIDBIT: That booing you heard was from Dallas
Our Patriots writers, Shalise Manza Young and Jim Donaldson, are watching the Sox in a bar at a downtown Dallas Marriott. With them are a group of Patriots fans, all of whom, obviously are also Red Sox fans.
When the television cameras showed Eric Gagne warming up in the bottom of the 10th . . . well, let Donaldson describe it:
''I'm surprised you didn't hear it at Fenway,'' he said. ''The groans and shouts were defeaning.''
Posted by Art Martone at 3:05 PM | Permalink
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INDIANS 13, RED SOX 6: Nixon serves as hero for Cleveland
By JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON-- It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Not Trot Nixon sticking it to his former team, the Boston Red Sox. At least not in October, in the American League Championship Series. but it happened. Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge signaled to Nixon to pick up a bat in the 11th inning to serve as a pinch-hitter in a game tied at 6-6.
And, like he did so many times for the Red Sox, Nixon delivered a crushing blow with a RBI single that eventually proved to be the game-winning hit as Cleveland defeated Boston, 13-6, to even the series at 1-1.
With Red Sox lefty reliever coming out of the bullpen to face Nixon, the left-handed hitter lifted a shallow liner into right-center field to score Grady Sizemore for the go-ahead run. Six more runs later, Cleveland left Boston with a victory.
''Lopez is not a comfortable at-bat for left-handers, dropping down submarine,” said Nixon. “I felt good going to the plate and was excited to finally get in there at 1:30 in the morning. It was gratifying for me because I’ve been struggling at times against left-handers, but I felt good and I saw the first pitch real well. For some reason, I felt confident in the batter’s box and if you can keep your emotions in check, in situations like that, you probably have a little better chance. I was fortunate. I didn’t hit it hard, but I hit it to where I needed to.”
When Nixon, who signed with the Indians as a free agent during the offseason, returned to Fenway this season, he received a king’s welcome, and for good reason. He spent his entire career with the Red Sox before landing in Cleveland last winter, so the fans made sure the former No. 7 knew exactly how they felt about him.
After Saturday night’s game, the fans probably think different.
“I’m the enemy coming in here,” Nixon said. “I had some great years in Boston and very grateful for that. I’m also grateful to have the opportunity to play in Cleveland, considering what happened to me during the offseason. Whether playing time has been cut or not, I feel it’s important for me to keep these guys upbeat.”
As Nixon spoke so eloquently following his late-inning heroics, Wedge – also a former Red Sox and PawSox player like Nixon – sat in the interview room with a huge smile on his face. The Cleveland skipper was probably thinking ‘My gut feeling to insert Trot worked perfectly’ and Wedge spoke highly of hid de facto captain.
“He’s taught our young players what it means to be a leader,” said Wedge. “If you’re going to be a leader, it’s strength and personality, it’s presence, you’ve got to be vocal, you’ve got to be strongest when other people are sometimes at their weakest, and you’ve got to pick people up. Trot’s season, whether he’s playing or he’s not, he’s been very consistent in that clubhouse, on that bench.”
Of course, in the home clubhouse, Nixon’s performance last night didn’t sit too well with the Red Sox.
“We were really hoping he’d make an out,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “We’re trying to have an answer for whatever they did, and both teams had used a lot of players. Under the circumstances for how many pitchers we had gone through, we were actually pretty happy to have left-on-left in that situation. I didn’t work very well.”
It did for Cleveland.
Signing Nixon was also a win-win for the Indians this season. Wedge said the one thing his young core of talented players lacked was toughness, and the presence of Nixon in the clubhouse has put the club over the top.
“He’s really given us a big boost with that this year,” said the Cleveland manager. “It’s helped us toughen up a little bit. That was something we really needed to do because we’ve got a lot of tough ball players in there, but in order for it to rise to the surface, sometimes you need a little boost. Trot has been a huge influence on a lot of our players.”
For once, however, Nixon silenced Red Sox Nation.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 2:41 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 13, RED SOX 6: Youkilis' great at-bat ends in disappointment
By STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis had a chance to be a hero in the bottom of the ninth.
A two-out single by Dustin Pedroia and a stolen base by pinch runner Jacoby Ellsbury put the winning run at second base in a 6-6 tie in Game Two at Fenway Park.
Youkilis was facing hard-throwing Rafael Betancourt, a former Boston farmhand who had been converted by the Sox from a shortstop to a pitcher.
On deck was David Ortiz, so Betancourt wasn't about to try to pitch around Youkilis with first base open. The count went to 2-and-2, with the right-hander firing in one fastball after another, in the 92-94-mph range.
That's when the intensity of the battle heated up. Betancourt kept firing fastballs and Youkilis kept fouling them back. He fouled six in a row.
And on the 11th pitch of the taut duel, Youklis laced a line drive to center. The moment it left the bat it looked as if the ball might fall for a game-winning hit. But it hung up enough for Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore to run it down, diving a bit to make the grab and keep the game tied at 6-6, setting the stage for Boston's disappointing 13-6, 11-inning loss.
"It was one of those things where you do everything right and it doesn't pay off," said Youkilis of his at-bat. "There's a lot of luck in this game. It was just a line drive that got caught. That's what happened."
Posted by Steven Krasner at 2:40 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 13, RED SOX 6: Sean McAdam -- Sox, Indians have only just begun
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON – Bottom of the tenth: Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell due.
If you’re a Red Sox fan, you’re taking bets on who becomes the hero. The game ends there, and, you think, so does the series.
The Red Sox go to Cleveland up 2-0, having won games started by the Indians’ two best pitchers. The games get played at Jacobs Field, but they’re merely a formality.
Except this: Tom Mastny retires the heart of the Red Sox batting order without incident, and a half-inning later, the Indians are winning by seven – seven! – en route to what has to be the most lopsided extra-inning post-season game in history.
The Red Sox went from anticipating a 2-to-0 lead to being tied in their ALCS with Cleveland.
''Change of momentum’’ doesn’t really cover it. How about whiplash?
''It would be a nice idea if you could run through the postseason without losing,’’ said Terry Francona. ''I don’t know how realistic that is.’’
It seemed plausible for a while. The Sox ground out at-bats against Fausto Carmona and chased him in the fifth inning, then torched the Cleveland bullpen with back-to-back homers from Ortiz and Lowell.
For a time, it looked like the Red Sox would join this year’s Colorado Rockies and the 1976 Cincinnati Reds to win their first five postseason games. But that was before the Sox were limited to a single hit over five innings, before the Red Sox self-immolated in the top of the 11th, and before the series changed drastically.
''It would have been nice,’’ said Kevin Youkilis, ''With those guys (Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell) up, you like your chances to get the run across. But sometimes the bounces don’t go your way.’’
Case(s) in point: the bullet Youkilis hit in the bottom of the ninth, snared by Grady Sizemore in center; or the lineout by Ortiz to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, stationed approximately in Harvard Square.
So off the Red Sox now trudge to Cleveland. What had been a best-of-seven has now become a best-of-five. Strategically speaking, the first two games are a draw, canceling each other out.
Along the way, Curt Schilling’s air of invincibility was stripped some last night. Beating the Indians is going to be considerably more difficult than sweeping the Angels, as the Red Sox had already probably suspected.
''We’ve got to put it aside,’’ said Youkilis of the long and demoralizing defeat.
The Red Sox promised they would not be down for long.
''I wish we would have won,’’ said Francona. ''But if this does us in, we’re not as good as we thought we were. It’s a frustrating end to a really exciting game, but we’ll get on a plane in a little while, regroup and have a nice little workout tomorrow.’’
The Indians, relieved though they may have been to get a split, were careful not to ride too high as they left Fenway.
''It’s the postseason,’’ shrugged Eric Wedge, their manager. ''It’s one game.’’
But the Indians made a statement with their win. Their ALDS triumph over the Yankees was not a fluke, and, no, they will not be taking part in the coronation ceremonies for the Red Sox.
And there was this: the Indians came into Fenway, didn’t get five complete innings from either one of their top two starters, and still went home even. To win one of two on the road without their co-aces dominating is more than the Tribe could have hoped.
Clearly, if the Sox are to win the American League pennant, they are going to have to earn it.
''We didn’t play the way we wanted to the first night,’’ said Game Two hero Trot Nixon. ''Maybe we had some big eyes out there. But I think we learned a lot in that first game.’’
The Red Sox learned some things, too. They’re not going to roll, uncontested, through the post-season. And, they’ve got a fight on their hands and a very worthy opponent on the other side.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 2:39 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 13, RED SOX 6: Bill Reynolds -- Cleveland feasts on seconds at Fenway
BOSTON – It was past 1 in the morning Sunday when Eric Gagne entered the game, long past the witching hour at Fenway Park.
The score was tied at 6-6, it was the top of the 11th inning, and there really wasn’t anybody else. Jonathan Papelbon had already pitched two innings. Mike Timlin had pitched. Manny Delcarmen had pitched. Mariano Rivera wasn’t available. Neither was Jim Lonborg, who had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch nearly five hours earlier. Apparently neither was anyone else.
So Gagne got the ball.
The same Eric Gagne who has been a disaster since he came here from Texas at the trading deadline. The same Eric Gagne who has become the symbol of fan discontent in the last two months of the season, as if he really was J.D. Drew’s secret brother, the two players who have failed to have lived up to expectations, the two players who have been the most villified.
By the time he left the game there were Indians on first and second, Trot Nixon was coming to the plate to face lefthanded Javier Lopez, the same Trot Nixon who used to make his living in right field for the Red Sox before the Sox decided last winter that he was expendable. By the time he left the game the Sox already were in big trouble, the sword about to fall on their head.
All this in the crucial second game in this ALCS series with Cleveland.
Back before Nixon singled in the go-ahead run. Back before the floodgates opened, and the Sox gave up an amazing seven runs in the inning, turning what had been a tense extra-inning battle into a late-game blowout. All of which was one more reminder that baseball can be one strange game.
''We came back and showed some resiliency tonight,’’ Nixon said of his Cleveald teammates, who had been blown out Friday night. ''We hung in there.’’
Did they ever.
On a night they truly needed to.
For you can make a case that the second game of a series determines how a series is going to play out. Don’t believe it? Consider this: In seven out of the last eight ALCS series, the team that won game two went on to win the series.
If nothing else, the second game is a game in which there’s pressure on both teams, certainly more pressure than there is in the first game.
The home team?
The home team has to win to hold serve, to keep the home-field advantage. If they do, they put all the pressure on the visiting team, which now looks at third game as a must win. If the Sox had won they would not only have beaten the Indians' two aces, they also would have sent a powerful message. The series could have gotten away from them Indians before they even got back to Cleveland.
And the visiting team?
If the visiting team wins Game Two, the series suddenly gets interesting. Or as the old axiom says, a series doesn’t really start until the home team loses.
So it was on an October night in Fenway Park, two teams going into the night in the crucial second game of the series.
It was a night in which Curt Schilling was going to take the ball and give us another memory tune, one more night when he was going to be a great postseason pitcher, getting by on guile and experience, his compensation for the fact that at 40 years old he no longer can bring the heat he once did. Another night in which he was going to stop time, like he did against the Angels.
That was the plan anyway, and the Sox had a 3-1 lead going into the fourth inning before it all fell apart. An inning later Schilling was down 5-3, courtesy of a couple of home runs, and Terry Francona was coming out to take the ball from him. Then again, throwing 88 miles an hour as Schilling now so often does is living on the edge.
But that was only the first act of the drama.
And before it all played out Schilling was little more than an afterthought, no different that the Indians' Fausto Carmona, who also was gone in the fifth. Before it all played out it almost became like another game, going into the eighth inning with the game tied at six apiece. And for the longest while it looked like it was going to be a classic postseason game, until it got away in the top of the 11th.
''It was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been a part of,’’ said Francona. ''It just didn’t work out very well for us. We were trying to stop one run and the bottom fell out for us.’’
Yes, it did.
At the worst possible time.
To his credit Schilling took the blame, even though he was long gone by the time the game was actually decided. Then again, maybe Schilling is never better than when he has not pitched well.
''No one should feel bad in the clubhouse but me,’’ he said. ''I forced our bullpen into a situation that essentially was unwinnable. It was all about me coming up small in a big game.’’
But it was not all on Schilling, not even close. Nor was it all Gagne, even though he put two men on base, giving Nixon the chance to put on Superman’s cape and be the hero. Lopez completely unraveled, not only giving up the hit to Nixon but also throwing a wild pitch that made the score 8-6, the enthusiasm running out of Fenway as quickly as the fans heading for the exists. The rest was all piling on.
For in the end it didn’t matter to the Indians how much they won by, just that they had won. They had come in here looking to win a game, to not only get some momentum in this series, but also to remove the Red Sox’ home-field advantage.
They did that.
And in doing so they have turned this into a series.
''It was a big win to come out of here with a split,’’ Nixon said.
Yes, it was.
For second games of a series are always big.
For both teams.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 2:35 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 13, RED SOX 6: Bullpen meltdown costly in 11th
By STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- The bullpen mainstays had been used up, so Boston manager Terry Francona turned to Eric Gagne and Javier Lopez to keep Saturday night's game tied in the 11th inning.
Francona and the Sox wanted another crack at the Indians' bullpen with the game tied in the bottom of the inning, hoping to take Game Two of the ALCS and open up a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
But Gagne and Lopez were roughed up, as was Jon Lester, who was called into the ugly 11th after the horse had already left the barn. By the time Lester nailed down the final out of the inning, Cleveland had poured seven runs across the plate for a 13-6 11-inning victory at Fenway Park that knotted the series at one game apiece, with the action shifting to Cleveland for the next three games.
And the 11th had begun so well for the Sox, who had gotten 3 2/3 innings of sparkling, shutout relief from Hideki Okajima (1 2/3 innings, 1 hit), Mike Timlin (1 spotless inning) and Jonathan Papelbon (2 innings, 1 hit) in keeping it a 6-6 game.
Gagne, the struggling right-hander, fanned the first batter he faced, Casey Blake. But then the inning unraveled. Gagne faced two more hitters, serving up a single to right to Grady Sizemore and a walk to Asdrubal Cabrera.
Francona yanked him, calling on Lopez as boos from the chilled fans rained down on Gagne.
Lopez was called on to get out Trot Nixon. But the former Red Sox hero dunked a pinch-hit single into right-center, snapping the tie and putting Cleveland on top, 7-6. And it got worse. A wild pitch gave the Indians another run, and Ryan Garko threaded a bouncing single over the mound and into center for another run. Lester took over and was tagged for an RBI double by Jhonny Peralta and a towering three-run homer to Franklin Gutierrez.
It happened so fast, the Red Sox were shell-shocked. Gagne didn't stick around the clubhouse to talk about his contributions to the bullpen meltdown, but Lopez patiently met the large media contingent that was seeking analysis.
"It was a very disappointing because we battled all night long," said Lopez. "The lead was going back and forth. We had momentum that Papelbon gave us. It's just unfortunate the way it ended."
The disappointment started with Lopez's 1-and-0 pitch to Nixon, in the lefty-on-lefty matchup.
"It was a cutter away and he hit it off the end of his bat," said Lopez. "He found a hole. The guy knows Fenway better than anybody. It was not that bad a pitch."
And as far as Francona was concerned, even though lefties were hitting .293 against the side-arming Lopez this season, he like the matchup.
"Under the circumstances, for how many pitchers we had gone through, we were actually happy to have a left-on-left in that situation. It didn't work very well," said Francona.
And it got worse. Lopez admitted his culpability in the wild pitch, a fastball he yanked behind the ankles of Victor Martinez, a switch hitter batting right-handed. The ball bounced off the glove of catcher Jason Varitek and rolled to the backstop, making it an 8-6 game.
"At that point I was still trying to limit the damage to one run. I was trying to get a double play there. I didn't want to leave that pitch to Martinez over the plate, but I missed way inside. That was my fault, total pitcher error," he said.
Still, he was hopeful of getting the double-play grounder from Garko. And he did get Garko to hit the ball on a high hop over the mound.
"I thought I had a chance to make the play, so I started for it with my glove, but then I pulled my glove back because I thought maybe (shortstop) Julio (Lugo) or (second baseman Alex) Cora was there to make the play behind me," said Lopez.
To his dismay, when Lopez looked back, the bouncer made its way perfectly between Lugo and Cora and suddenly it was a 9-6 game.
"Sometimes you have to make decisions on balls like that because you don't want them to tick off your glove (if there's an infielder behind the pitcher, waiting for the ball). I probably should have made the play," said Lopez.
The inning dissolved from there, and ultimately the Red Sox came out on the short end of the five-hour, 14-minute marathon.
The memory of Saturday night's (and Sunday morning's) game would be tough to digest for the Sox, but the series is not over.
"We're 1-1 in the series, so all is not lost," said Lopez. "The sun will rise tomorrow."
Posted by Steven Krasner at 2:12 AM | Permalink
QUICK REACTION: Trot Nixon
On his game-winning hit
It was a situation where, obviously, Lopez is not a very comfortable at-bat against left-handers. But I was excited to finally get in there, 1:30 in the morning. For some reason, I felt a calmness out there. If you can keep your emotions in check in a situation like that, you probably have a better chance.
On whether Sox fans will now see him differently
I'm the enemy coming in here. I had some great years here in Boston. I was very grateful to have the opportunity to play here, but I'm also very grateful to have the opportunity to play in Cleveland.
On whether or not the victory swings the series in Cleveland's favor
It's the postseason. One game is a big win for us, gives us the momentum. We get a day off tomorrow, and we come back at it on Monday.
Posted by Art Martone at 1:52 AM | Permalink
QUICK REACTION: Terry Francona
That was one of the most exciting games I've ever been a part of. So much good baseball. It just didn't work out for us.
On losing the game
I don't think it's realistic; it's a nice idea to run through the postseason without losing. That's one of the better-played games, until the last 15 minutes, that I've ever been a part of.
On looking wiped out
I think I always look like that.
On whether the loss will take anything out of the Red Sox
It's a long time for both teams. I wish we would have won. But, no, if this wipes us out, we're not as good as I think we are.
On Trot Nixon
We were really hoping he'd make an out.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 1:43 AM | Permalink
FINAL: Indians 13, Red Sox 6
By JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- And you thought the highly intense marathon games were only played when the Red Sox and the Yankees met in October.
That wasn’t the case Saturday night into Sunday morning, as Boston and the Cleveland Indians mounted a new type of postseason spectacular in Game Two of the American League Championship Series. In the end, after five hours and 14 minutes, the Indians emerged victorious with a dramatic 13-6 win in 11 innings. The series is now tied, 1-1.
And of all people to stick it to the Red Sox, former outfielder and fan favorite Trot Nixon provided the game-winning, pinch-hit RBI single for the Indians as his liner to right-center field scored Grady Sizemore for the go-ahead run. The Indians added six more insurance runs in the inning, capped by a three-run homer by Franklin Gutierrez.
Even before the Indians scored the seven runs in the 11th inning, Red Sox relief pitcher Eric Gagne continued to implode. He came on for the 11th with the score tied 6-6. After striking out Casey Blake, he allowed a single to Sizemore and issued a walk to Asdrubal Cabrera. With two on, Red Sox manger Terry Francona pulled Gagne in favor of reliever Javier Lopez.
The lefty allowed the eventual game-winning hit to Nixon.
Almost lost in the marathon game was the fact that Boston starter Curt Schilling proved he is human and hittable in the postseason.
The Indians pounded the veteran right-hander into submission as he lasted just 4 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on nine hits with no walks and three strikeouts. The nine hits matched a career postseason high, and it was his second shortest postseason start.
Sizemore set the tone early with a double to left field, leading off the game. Two outs later, Victor Martinez also doubled to left to give Cleveland an early 1-0 lead.
Boston pushed across three runs in the third, including a bases-loaded walk to Manny Ramirez and a two-run double by Mike Lowell, to gain a 3-1 advantage. But Cleveland quickly answered with its own three-spot in the top of the fourth inning on Jhonny Peralta’s three-run blast to deep center field to regain the lead, 4-3.
The Indians added to their lead in the top of the fifth when Sizemore launched a solo home run into the Sox’ bullpen for a 5-3 lead. Schilling allowed two more hits after the roundtripper before getting the hook from Francona and replaced with reliever Manny Delcarmen.
The nine hits Schilling allowed tied a personal career postseason high for the veteran right-hander.
So many times in the past Schilling led the Red Sox to victory. After he faltered, however, his teammates picked him up.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Boston ran Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona from the game after Kevin Youkilis provided a lead-off single. Then the Red Sox absolutely abused the Indians’ bullpen.
With Youkilis on first, Ortiz hit a ground to the right side of the infield when Cleveland attempted to turn a double play. While Youkilis was forced out at second, a lumbering Ortiz legged out the play at first, which proved crucial because Ramirez followed with a two-run homer to tie the game at 5-5.
The fans in attendance wanted a curtain call, and Ramirez gave it to them just as Mike Lowell smoked a solo shot high above the Monster Seats to give Boston a 6-5 advantage.
But The Indians pushed across the tying run in the top of the sixth off Manny Delcarmen, before he was pulled in favor of lefty Hideki Okajima, who worked out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the damage to a minimum.
With the game still knotted at 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Sox’ Dustin Pedroia provided a two-out single to left, was replaced with pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury, who subsequently stole second uncontested. Kevin Youkilis produced an 11-pitch at-bat off Indians’ reliever Rafael Betancourt, but eventually flied out to center field to end the inning and the threat.
The teams will have Sunday off with Game Three set for Monday in Cleveland with the Sox’ Daisuke Matsuzaka facing the Indians’ Jake Westbrook.
If the excitement and adrenaline of Saturday night’s game was any indication, the rest of this series could be one for the ages.
Who needs the Yankees?
Posted by Joe McDonald at 1:37 AM | Permalink