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October 17, 2007
Cleveland scouting report
By Joe McDonald
Journal Sports Writer
CLEVELAND _ The Red Sox have proven over the course of the last few seasons to be one, if not the toughest lineups to pitch against in the majors.
All of a sudden, however, the Cleveland Indians have found a way to stifle Boston’s lineup as the Indians have taken a three-games-to-one lead in the ALCS with Game Five tonight at Jacobs Field. A member of the Indians who spoke on the condition of anonymity sat down with the Journal and broke down the club’s approach against the Red Sox, which has obviously worked.
The nine every-day players for Boston are very similar when it comes to breaking down the scouting reports. Plus, the Cleveland bullpen has done a solid job at keeping the Red Sox offense a bay during this series, especially at Fenway Park because giving the Red Sox extra outs is like giving them extra runs at home.
“They are a patient lineup and you can’t fall behind them. When you get them in a hitter’s count, they will hurt you and we’ve seen that already in this series.”
The Indians want to be aggressive with the Sox’ rookie lead-off man and make him work as much as they can. In seven postseason games, he’s hitting just .172.
“He hasn’t shown enough pop to where he can really hurt you. If he gets his hits, leave them at singles because Boston won’t do a lot of running in front of their big guys. He’s a guy we want to throw strikes to and keep him off base, because we don’t want anyone on base with the big fellas behind him.”
He’s hitting .333 in seven postseason games and he began to hit the ball hard during Game Four of this series. The last thing the Indians want is Youkilis to get locked in.
“He’s a good hitter with very good command of the strike zone. He very rarely swings and misses. He’s a tough guy to pitch to because he doesn’t swing at junk outside the zone. When you do throw it in the zone, he has very good bat-to-ball skills. With him you need to stay out of the middle of the plate. He’s aggressive at balls in the zone.”
**David Ortiz:/Manny Ramirez
There’s not much you can do with Big Papi. He’s hitting .500 with three homers and four RBI in the postseason, and even if the opposition puts the shift on, he can still do some damage. Cleveland has done a good job at pitching him away, especially with the sinker.
“You just need to catch him on the right day. If you catch him on the wrong day, then there’s nothing you can do. You need to be careful and you don’t want to let him beat you. Obviously, depending on the pitching matchup, it’s so tough with him and Manny (Ramirez) back-to-back. It’s not like you can pitch around David to get to Manny because he’s just as good of a hitter. Really, it’s damn near luck.”
The biggest thing with Ortiz and Manny is opposing pitchers have to decide how much damage they are willing to deal with in Boston’s 3-4 punch. Both hitters have very few holes and if you do beat them, it’s unlikely teams will have success twice in a row. It’s really about controlling rallies with the pair, which is why it’s key to keep Pedroia and Youkilis off the bases.
Hitting behind Ortiz and Ramirez has actually helped Lowell break out this season, especially in the playoffs as he enters tonight’s game with a .280 average with one homer and nine RBI.
“Last year he wasn’t nearly the hitter he was this season. He was still a good hitter last year, but he shored up some things this year with his swing and he’s going the other way a little bit more. He’s been a little more patient. He’s an aggressive hitter.”
The Indians don’t have too much experience against the Sox’ right fielder, but they have kept him pretty quiet during the ALCS. Of his four hits, only one has done any damage, which was a two-run single in Game One.
“He likes the ball up and over the middle of the plate. He wants a fastball he can get after and likes the ball away from him a little bit. You need to pitch him basic and safe.
The Sox’ switch-hitting captain is hitting at a lowly .192 clip (.333 from the right side and .174 from left) in the postseason. His three hits against the Indians are an RBI-double in Game One, a solo homer in Game Three and a single in Game Four.
“He’s different from both sides of the plate. On one side of the plate, he likes the ball up. On the other side he likes it down. Obviously, he’s a big strong man and you don’t want to leave anything sitting there in the middle of the plate. You want to keep the ball down. He’s not running as well as he has in the past, so if he hits a single that’s okay because with him no first with the guys behind him (the speedy Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo) gives you a chance for a double-play ball. The threat of the two-run homer is not nearly as big, although every one over there can pretty much put it out of the yard.”
The former Indian recorded a career year when he was in Cleveland during the 2006 season, his last year here. The switch-hitter posted a .300 average with 16 homers, 69 RBI, 42 doubles and 4 triples. He’s been pretty much silent in this series.
“That has a lot to do with [us] knowing him so well. We got to see him at his best, so we know where to stay away from him. We treat him as a speed guy and he’s the one guy we don’t want to walk by any means necessary because he can turn a walk into a double just like that. Attacking him has to be on our priority list, because we can’t give him the opportunity to run. We need to get him to hit the ball in the air. The last thing you want to do is walk a guy like him, even though he does have some thump, you want him to hit the ball and put it in play.”
The Indians consider Lugo as the Sox’ true lead-off man. He swings the most, and like Crisp, he’s another speed guy teams want to keep off the base paths.
“He’s a bigger part of their offense than a lot of people give him credit for. Hitting at the bottom, you would think most nine-hole hitters would be your weakest player, but it’s a fit for him down there. He can hit in a lot of places, and he’s proven that in the past. He’s a fastball hitter and he wants to be aggressive. He might be the most aggressive guy in their lineup, and he should be. He can extend innings and roll that lineup around. With him being in the ninth spot really works into their lineup pretty well. Once the game starts, he’s kind of like the lead-off hitter with Pedroia and Youkilis hitting second and third.”
Even though the Cleveland pitchers have done a very good job with the Red Sox, the Indians are not about to breath a sigh of relief because you never want to wake a sleeping offensive monster.
“There no doubt there’s depth in their lineup. They are pretty dangerous, obviously. It’s not rocket science.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 6:38 PM | Permalink
They Don't Forget in Cleveland.
During a break in the action in Game 4 Tuesday night, the Indians ran a slide show of pictures on the giant screen in left field.
Capitalizing on the team's 2007 motto ``It's Tribe Time Now,'' the pictures featured various Boston-area celebrities wearing -- thanks to some Photoshop-like editing -- red Indians shirts with the motto inscribed.
Featured were U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the cast from the TV show ``Cheers,'' actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
But the Indians saved the best for last, depicting Pats coach Bill Belichick in the red shirt. While most of the photos were greeted with laughter, the appearance of Belichick resulted in some hearty booing.
Belichick, of course, has not been forgotten -- or forgiven -- for his five-year stay here as coach of the Browns when he benched popular quarterback Bernie Kosar and compiled a 36-44 record and just one trip to the playoffs.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 6:09 PM | Permalink
Manny being Manny
The Red Sox trail the Indians three games to one in the ALCS and Manny Ramirez isn't worry.
Prior to today's workout at Jacobs Field, as Boston prepares for Thursday's Game Five, Ramirez spoke with the media and seemed calm as could be.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” he said, referring to the 2004 postseason. “We’ve got nothing to lose. Everybody is playing great and we’re just going to go in there and see what happens.
“We’re not worried about 2004. We worried about Thursday. We’re just here to have fun and play the game. We’re going to play and if it doesn’t happen, we’ll come back next year and try to do it again.”
The Red Sox slugger extended his LCS-hitting streak to 14 games with his single in the second inning Tuesday night. The streak is the second-longest in LCS history, one shy of Pete Rose, who compiled a 15-game hitting streak from 1973 to 1983.
Ramirez didn't stop his record-setting pace there.
His homer in the fifth inning, his 10th career in the LCS, established a new record for most all-time to surpass George Brett. Still, Ramirez said he would rather focus on winning another World Series.
“It’s good,” he said of the postseason accolades. “If I would have known I was going to be in the World Series and not have those records, I would trade that in a heart beat. I don’t care about those records. I just want to have fun and win.”
Looking ahead to Game Five and his matchup against Indians' ace C.C. Sabathia, Ramirez was quite complimentary about his former club.
“C.C. is one of the best pitchers in baseball,” said Ramirez. "You have to give the other team credit. They are pitching great and playing great. They are a good team.”
Ramirez came of age here in Cleveland before he signed with Boston as a free agent in December of 2000, and he said he always enjoys coming back here -- albeit a different feeling being a visitor.
“I enjoy (being back) but once you play in Boston for a few years and come back, it doesn’t feel the same," he said.
When Ramirez smoked his solo home run the Red Sox were trailing by five runs, but he still pimped it up around the bases to the dislike of many Cleveland players. It's not the first time he's done that here, but he said he wasn't trying to shove it in anyone's face.
“I’m not trying to show up anybody,” he said. “I’m just trying to have fun. If someone strikes me out and shows me up, that’s just part of the game. I love it. I like to compete. It’s all good.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 2:45 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Not getting it done
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: the starters' failure to get out of the fifth inning; Wakefield's misplay of Asdrubal Cabrera's ground ball up the middle; Cleveland's ability to create big innings; the likelihood of lineup changes in Game Five; how fatigued is Beckett? and how are the younger players coping with their struggles.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
What did these three short outings have in common? "I'm not sure it's any one thing. I think that you have to kind of break it down, and in the case of last night, as Terry Francona said in the postgame, this was sort of circumstantial. First of all, the Indians did not exactly tattoo Tim Wakefield. It was a succession of missed opportunities -- the dropped popup by Youkilis in foul ground on Sizemore; the ball that Cabrera hit that hit off Wakefield's glove that might have otherwise been an out or two. And then take into account, as Francona said, that he didn't keep Wakefield in the game the way he might have during the reghular season. He pitched OK; certainly the same can't be said of either Schilling or Matsuzaka. I think you have to take each one individually, but the bottom line is that, given the significance of these games, at no point did anyone get five innings plus, and it's difficult to win a series like that."
The Game Five lineup: "I think you'll see Kielty again in right field against C.C. Sabathia tomorrow night. That's what they did in Game One because of Kielty's history of success against Sabathia in particular, and add to that that J.D. Drew has struggled against lefties all year. So that's virtually a certainty, that Drew will be on the bench and Kielty will be in right. Then the other question is: Do you sit Crisp for Jacoby Ellsbury? And the problem there, of course, is that as much as you'd like to get Ellsbury into the game, it's pretty tough to have him go in there against a left-hander, and one of the best left-handers in the game. I don't know, to tell you the truth, which way [Terry Francona's] going to go. I would imagine it's on the table and being discussed, but that seems like that would be kind of a roll of the dice, even though Crisp has not had a good series at all."
Is fatigue an issue with Beckett? "I think, with regular rest, you're not running any risk. He might not be 100 percent, but then again I'm not sure anyone is, and certainly Sabathia is example 1-A of that. This is a guy who threw 240-plus innings, which is almost unheard of in this day and age, during the regular season and is approaching 260 innings given his two postseason starts already. So I think that fatigue is starting to creep in everywhere."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:01 AM to McAdam
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Posted by Mike McDermott at 7:14 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Transcript of Terry Francona's postgame interview
All three of your losses your pitchers haven't made it out of the fifth inning. Is it something they're not doing, or is it something that the Indians changed from Game 1 that's getting them out so early?
I think every game kind of has its own feel or personality. I think there are times, too, you get in a playoff game where during the regular season you might give a starter some wiggle room but you can't go to the bullpen in the fifth inning three games in a row in the regular season. But now because of the importance of games and trying to keep games at a manageable point where if we do get those three home runs we're right back in the ballgame, I think it's just a little bit different during the regular season.
Jhonny Peralta has had a pretty good series. Given your scouting reports, I assume this is no big surprise that he's had a good series given how good a hitter he's been for a while.
Yeah, he's very dangerous and we're finding out. The formula that we used tonight, bringing in Manny Delcarmen behind Wake is something we've done a lot this year because just of the differential and the speeds giving hitters different looks. He fell behind 2-1, tried to go up and away, really elevated a ball that Jhonny caught up with. Obviously I know I'm stating the obvious, it's a big blow in the game. If we can stop the bleeding right there, it certainly gives us a much better chance. And we still came back with a lot of energy and swung the bats the next inning, but we really dug ourselves a big hole.
There's guys in your room who have some history with being in a bad place in the postseason and coming back. Is there anything that you need to say, can say, or does it just kind of have to be left unsaid?
No, we don't need to have meetings. We know where we are, and like you kind of said, there's some guys in there that have been in this situation before. And the best way I think all of us know to go about our business is to play the next game. Put that on our radar and try and take care of the next game. You start trying to look ahead, it can look a little overwhelming. Just play the game that's in front of us, and that's the only thing that matters right now.
Scouting report mentioned before by Tim, I'm sure you had thorough reports on the Indians' bullpen. Now that you've seen them in person, up close in the postseason, is it better than you thought collectively or about what you thought, especially the back end?
Well, the series isn't over. We're very aware of what they can do. Betancourt comes in with 79 innings and I believe nine walks, what, 51 hits. That's a phenomenal year. Our goal always is to get to the bullpen before they can set it up, where they can match up or get to guys before they want to. We haven't been able to do that the last couple nights.
With Tim, no hit three innings and then the bottom falls out, can you just talk about his performance. And have you seen this before from him? Does it happen with a knuckleballer like that?
Well, I think you have to keep that inning a little bit in perspective when you're talking about Wake. He gave up the lead-off home run to Blake and then a single. That at-bat to Shoppach was -- then we get the ground ball. That's a huge chase, knowing he's got a guy at third that's probably tagging, the ball drifted on him a little bit. If we don't make that play, and then we get the line drive (inaudible), and then we're out of the inning. Then we go to Manny to keep it right where it is, and we certainly didn't do that.
I was just going to ask if you could talk a little bit more about Wakefield's performance as a whole throughout the game.
Actually threw the ball really well. The big concern for us tonight I thought was getting through that first inning and getting on a little bit of a roll and getting him a little bit of confidence. With Wake, when he's quick to the plate that means he's not trying to load up and make that ball do more or like he feels like it has to do more. His times to the plate tonight were great. He threw the ball with confidence. Like I said, in a regular season game we would have stayed with him longer, but in a situation we're in, a playoff game, we want to stop it right there.
What kind of argument did you have with the umpire after the fourth inning? Is it something related to double-pumping by Paul Byrd?
I didn't have any argument. I just asked him a question. It was no argument. I wanted to get a rule interpretation, that was all it was.
Can you talk about Paul Byrd and the job he did against your hitters, not just with the aggressiveness but with the selection of pitches?
You know, he's such a strike thrower, and he got on a roll where, especially to his glove side, his cutter, away right, into the lefties, he's opened up the rest of the plate for his off-speed pitches. Early on even the first inning, very aggressive, in to the lefties, which again, with his off-speed pitches and the way he throws strikes really made him tough.
Posted by Art Martone at 1:10 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Transcript of Eric Wedge's postgame interview
From the middle of Game 2 on everybody you've given the ball to has basically come through for you. This is the kind of thing that classically wins in the postseason.
Well, I feel like we've been doing a better job just controlling the baseball game in regard to our pitching. I think that it starts right there. It always has and it always will, in regard to working ahead, making pitches when you have to, getting big outs, finishing hitters off, finishing innings off. Paul Byrd gave us another great effort tonight. You saw Jensen Lewis come in, as well as Rafael Betancourt and work the way they needed to work, as well. We had the big inning, Byrdie gave us a chance to win the ballgame, and the bullpen was able to finish it off.
You guys were struggling a bit against Wakefield, and then in that fifth inning you exploded. Did you sense anything that inning? Can you talk about Blake's home run, too.
Well, we did not sense anything outside of the fact that he was throwing the ball good. You could see that early on. He was dropping that thing in there and mixing an occasional fastball, looked like he was mixing an occasional breaking ball, and he had the knuckleball going up and down, he had it going side to side from time to time. I mean, we were having a lot of difficulty. Casey Blake, that was big for us. To get on the board and to break through, because we weren't stringing anything together. And then it just kind of went on from there. And the guys did a good job of moving it along down the line and working hard to get to the next guy and pushing the inning forward. So obviously there was a number of people that really contributed to that inning, the big home run there by Peralta. He can go that way, but then he's done it a lot for us this year.
After the Game 1 loss, did you guys reevaluate or change philosophy pitching-wise as well as hitting, or has it stayed the same, it's just that maybe they were relaxing more?
No, it's stayed the same. I mean, I think that we've just done a better job on the mound of being a little bit more aggressive. Again, getting back to our strengths, that's the way we have to play. That's the way we have to get it done is to focus on what we need to do individually, what we need to do with different areas of our ballclub, and obviously what we need to do collectively as a ballclub to win. That's the way we have to do it. If we get a little bit in between or we try to work away from that or we try to be too fine, then we're getting away from what we need to do to be successful. When I say "we," I'm talking about everybody individually or different areas of our clubs.
Can you talk about your club's evolution defensively? There's been a lot of talk about pitching in this series, but how many double plays you've turned, a lot, in this series, and then the play that Cabrera made tonight was a good play. Talk about the defensive evolution of this team.
Well, I felt like we've been a better defensive club this year. But last year I didn't feel like we were as bad defensively as maybe the numbers would show. I just felt like our timing was really bad (laughing). We broke down defensively at key moments. This year we've stepped up defensively in key moments. Those numbers you see on paper don't mean anything. It's about the timing of the ballgame, it's about making plays when you need to, putting the ball on the ground and turning a double play when you need to. We talked about it earlier, making pitches, stepping up with two-out knocks. That's what it's all about. With our pitching as our defense and we've been more consistent this year.
What about what Cabrera has given you?
He's been a big boost for us. He along with a lot of other people. This team has really evolved. That's been a consistent mindset this year, and the faces and names have changed from time to time, but I'm obviously proud of all of them.
Two seven-run innings in this series have really broke it open in a way for you. Did you see any similarity in those innings? And how does that speak to the explosive power of this team?
Well, you do see the similarities just in regard to grinding out at-bats and really working hard to not get ahead of yourself. And at times things can speed up and you try to do too much too quickly; when somebody gets on and you're the next hitter, somebody hits a home run and you're the next hitter, somebody hits a double and you're the next hitter. Instead of grinding out the at-bat, don't focus on results, just focus on having a good approach, a good at-bat and let the rest take care of itself, and I think we've done a pretty good job of that as of late.
Getting back to Blake again, he's had some really important home runs for you in the last month. Has he done anything differently that you can attribute that to?
Well, he likes being up there. He's had some really late home runs in ballgames for us, and tonight to get us kick started as a ballclub.
The way your team has played the last three games, would you rather just play tomorrow instead of having the off-day?
You know, the off-day you know is coming before the series starts. You plan as such, and it's okay for our guys. It doesn't phase us. We're still going to work out, have a quick, light workout the same time as we normally stretch and take BP, and guys will have a chance to relax.
Posted by Art Martone at 1:09 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: A bounce here and there . . .
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox are used to having things go in their favor.
From late-inning heroics to walk-off home runs and solid pitching performances, the Red Sox have had it all.
Not the last two games, though.
With a berth to the World Series on the line, Boston has faltered at the most inopportune time here in Cleveland, and as a result the Red Sox find themselves one loss away from elimination.
First and foremost, the club’s offense has gone astray. The starting pitching in the last two contests has been borderline poor. But, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much last night because the ball definitely didn’t bounce the Sox’ way.
The club seemed snakebitten from the get-go and that was especially true in the seven-run fifth inning. A pop up in foul territory down the right-field line was mishandled by first baseman Kevin Youkilis and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who collided softly at the warning track.
That play proved crucial because the Indians’ Grady Sizemore eventually reached on a fielder’s choice. The next Cleveland batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, hit a chopper back up the middle and when pitcher Tim Wakefield couldn’t make the play and kept the inning going.
''That ball back to me, if I let it go it’s a double play,'' he said. ''If I catch it it’s a double play. It was just one of those things where the breaks went their way in that inning.''
As the ball bounced around the back of the infield grass, Pedroia and Wakefield were clearly stunned by what was happening around them.
''I was right there,'' said Pedroia. ''I was playing up the middle and Wake just reacted. He knows I’m back there, but if he can get it then we turn two. It was just a tough break for us.
''It happened quick,'' added Pedroia about the implosion in the inning. ''There were a lot of weird things. On that pop up to Youk, he slipped then I slipped and the ball was bouncing every where. If he catches that ball and the runner doesn’t go home, then maybe we’re out of that inning on the next batter. A lot of things just didn’t go our way tonight.''
It has to on Thursday or the Red Sox’ season is over.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 1:08 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Clubhouse reaction
Dustin Pedroia on possible double-play ball in the fifth inning:
“I was right there. I was playing up the middle and Wake just reacted. He knows I’m back there, but if he can get it then we turn two. It was just a tough break for us.”
Pedroia on the seven-run fifth:
“It happened quick. There were a lot of weird things. On that pop up to Youk, he slipped then I slipped and the ball was bouncing every where. If he catches that ball and the runner doesn’t go home, then maybe we’re out of that inning on the next batter. A lot of things just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Pedroia on Youkilis’s first error of the season:
“He’s been great all year. His defense is outstanding. He’s a gold glover in everybody’s mind.”
Pedroia on being down 3-1:
“We’re still alive and we have an opportunity to go out and play better. That’s all we can do right now.”
Tim Wakefield on his performance:
“It hurts. That one big inning cost us the game and I couldn’t stop the bleeding.”
Wakefield on the possible double-play ball:
“That ball back to me, if I let it go it’s a double play. If I catch it it’s a double play. It was just one of those things where the breaks went their way in that inning.”
More from Wakefield:
“Physically I felt fine. I felt the ball was moving good. The lead-off homer [to Jhonny Peralta] is really the only ball I thought they squared up in that inning.”
“We’ve got our work cut out for us and hopefully we can take this back to Boston and get in front of our home crowd.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 1:05 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Byrd comes up big
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
CLEVELAND -- In the clinching game of the American League Division Series, Paul Byrd limited the powerful Yankee lineup to just two runs over five innings.
Tuesday night, he pitched five-plus against the Red Sox and once more, allowed only two runs.
How does a pitcher whose fastball barely tops 87 mph shut down such a powerful lineup?
''I went out there,'' said Byrd, ''and my goal going in was to move the ball in and out, inside part of the plate and outside part of the plate. I think sometimes these guys can scare people and (make them) shy away from throwing the ball in, thinking they're going to hit another home run. So that was my goal going in - to move the ball in out.''
Byrd struck out four in his outing, which caught even the veteran righty by surprise.
''I didn't really expect to strike anybody out,'' he said. ''I was hoping to jam some people. I had a good fastball -- I hit 90 mph on one, which happens a few times a year. I high-fived a couple of guys in the dugout and said, 'Hey - pick me up here; I just hit 90!' ''
Posted by Sean McAdam at 12:51 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: In the Wake of the (bad) news
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
CLEVELAND -- The long layoff wasn't wasn't the problem for Tim Wakefield. The long fifth inning was.
Wakefield, the losing pitcher in Tuesday night's 7-3 Game Four loss to the Cleveland Indians, said he wasn't affected by making his first start since Sept. 29. He had suffered from shoulder inflammation for most of September and was left off the roster for the American League Division Series.
''That was no an issue,'' said Wakefield. ''I was 100 percent healthy -- the (layoff) didn't effect me at all. Physically, I felt fine.''
The problem, instead, was a series of bad breaks.
''I think you have to keep that inning in a little bit of persepctive when you're talking about Wake,'' said manager Terry Francona.
Wakefield, who had allowed just one hit to Cleveland over the first four innings, was tagged for a leadoff homer by Casey Blake.
Then the real trouble started. Franklin Gutierrez hit a ball off the end of his bat for a single and Wakefield compounded things by hitting Kelly Shoppach.
Grady Sizemore then hit a popup down the first base line which Kevin Youkilis circled under, only to juggle and have the ball fall to the ground. Given another chance, Sizemore hit a a grounder to the right side, forcing Shoppach at second, but Siizemore was too speedy and beat the relay to first, keeping the Indians out of the double play.
Asdrubal Cabrera then hit a liner back to Wakefield, which he stabbed, only to have
the ball trickle off his glove and land behind the mound, allowing Cabrera to reach, Guitierrez to score and Sizemore to advance to second.
''If I let it go,'' said a rueful Wakefield, ''it's a double play. If I catch it, it's a double play.''
Wakefield said he never considered letting the ball go through to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who might have come up with the ball and started a double play.
''It's hard to let those balls get through,'' said Wakefield. ''As a pitcher, you try to field your position. You're trying to get outs.''
Even in the fifth, when the Indians got five runs off him, Wakefield was told by catcher Doug Mirabelli that his stuff was still good.
''It was good enough,'' said Wakefield. ''Not like it was in the second, third or fourth, but good enough. Unfortunately, we didn't get any breaks tonight.''
''(Wakefield) actually threw the ball really well,'' said Francona. ''In a regular season game, we would have stayed with him longer. But in the situation we're in, in a playoff game, we've got stop it right there.''
Posted by Sean McAdam at 12:50 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Without bad luck, the Sox wouldn't have any at all
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
CLEVELAND -- Third baseman Mike Lowell, noting how things could have easily gone the other way in the fifth inning, said the Sox have to hope for a rerversal of fortune before Game Five.
Asked if it sometimes seems that the Indians are catching every break, Lowell said: ''It looks like it. Maybe the day off (Wednesday) will be the day the karma starts to go our way.''
''The ball hasn't been bouncing our way,'' agreed Dustin Pedroia, ''and (the Indians) have taken advantage of it.''
Posted by Sean McAdam at 12:47 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Lester a bright spot
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
CLEVELAND -- If there was a bright spot in Tuesday night’s Red Sox debacle at Jacobs Field, it was the pitching performance of Jon Lester.
The left-hander entered with the game seemingly out of reach for Boston and he was able to keep the Red Sox within striking distance, though to no avail. Lester worked three solid scoreless innings and allowed just one hit and struck out four.
The outing was quite different then his previous one when he made his postseason debut in Game Two of the ALCS and surrendered two runs on two hits, including a home run to the Indians’ Franklin Gutierrez in the 11th inning on Saturday at Fenway Park.
Lester was back in fine form Tuesday.
''It was big,'' he said of his performance ''Just being able to pitch was nice. I just went out there and tried to do my best to keep the team where we can be in striking distance.''
Even though he was pleased with his night of work, he said he would rather have not been in that situation because that meant the club was losing.
After starter Tim Wakefield suffered the loss, while allowing five runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings of work, reliever Manny Delcarmen struggled, too. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits, including a home run before Lester was summoned to start sixth inning.
''It’s tough,'' said Lester. ''Wakey pitched his butt off, and Delcarmen came in and tried to control the damage. Stuff like that happens.''
The last time Lester pitched at this park was back in July when he made his triumph return to a major-league mound after a courageous victory over cancer. He earned the win that night against the Indians, but it wasn’t about to dwell on the past, especially not in October.
''This is a great park,'' he said. ''If you can’t get up for a game here then there’s something wrong with you. There was a lot of energy tonight and it’s a great place to play. Hopefully the outcome on Thursday will be a little bit better. It will always be in the back of my mind, but it’s not something that comes up on common occurrences. It’s something that was in the past and I’ve moved on.''
When asked what he thought of Boston’s chances now that the club is down three games to one with Game Five on Thursday, Lester said the Red Sox will be ready.
''A lot of these guys here have done it before,'' he said. ''They had their backs up against the wall [in 2004], even worse than this. I think tonight spirits are down a little bit, come Thursday spirits will be back up and we’ll be ready to get after it and hopefully put up a good fight.''
Posted by Joe McDonald at 12:43 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Transcript of Casey Blake's postgame interview
Your at-bat, the home run, Wakefield
had been unhittable up to that point. Take us
through that at-bat, and what changed in that
inning with Tim where you guys were able to
get to him and then get to the bullpen?
Man, I don't know. I wanted to be aggressive. I mean, the first pitch to me looked like it was going to be chest high, and that thing just dropped off the table for a strike, and I just said, gosh. With him it's just a matter of maybe just getting one that just doesn't move that much and just trying to square it up. Sometimes against him you're up there just scratching and battling, just trying to just make solid contact and not look like an idiot up there swinging at that pitch when it's coming in there like that. Like I said, I got lucky there, hit one on the barrel, and it seemed like that got us going a little bit. You've got to give credit to the guys coming up later, some of the two-strike base hits, Asdrubal and Vic. Those guys were battling up there and came up with some huge hits.
Talk about how this team feeds off each other.
Well, first off, I mean, this is a team that's extremely close in the clubhouse. I mean, it's just a lot of fun to be around these guys. We really care for one another. And I think that has a lot to do with how much confidence we have, and the success we've had this year is just the fact that we're really pulling for each other. I mean, in this game you have to have some -- you have to be selfish in this game to an extent, but when you really are pulling for the guy next to you and caring how they do and picking them up when they're down, I think that's kind of how we feed off each other.
Two really big innings in this series have helped you get to where you are in the series. Any similarities between those innings? And how does that speak to the explosive nature of this offense?
Well, I think the first big inning we had in Boston was just a matter of somebody stepping up there late, coming up with a big hit, and Trot stepped in there and got the single up the middle to get that inning going. And that was kind of capped off by a three-run homer. I mean, three-run homers are great, and we've had several of them in the series, and those are big. We're not really a ballclub that can sit back and play for that, but we'll certainly take them when we can get them. You know, I think those innings, kind of somebody gets it going and there's maybe a little advantage, a little momentum going there, and it's just a combination of guys battling, working the pitcher and just battling.
You had the knuckleball tonight, and then you'll get Josh Beckett against on Thursday night. Just talk about facing Beckett again.
Well, I certainly look forward to the challenge, and it definitely is a challenge. He's as good as there is in the game. He's as good as there is. He's tough, he's a big-game pitcher, and we're going to have to play as well as we can play to beat him. But we've got to like our chances with C.C. going for us.
This is a loaded question now, but I want you to describe the importance of Paul Byrd's work here in the postseason.
Byrdie, this is the second time he's stepped up and did exactly what we needed him to do. He's probably, at least in my eyes, he's the MVP of our team right now just because when we needed a big ballgame out of somebody, he stepped up. And Jake last night, too. But Byrdie is kind of the unsung hero here.
Posted by Art Martone at 12:43 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Transcript of Paul Byrd's postgame interview
You neutralized one of the best teams in baseball over five innings. How?
You know, I went out there, and my goal going in was to move the ball in and out, inside part of the plate, outside part of the plate. I think sometimes these guys can scare people and shy away from throwing the ball in, thinking they're going to hit another home run. So that was my goal going in, was to move the ball in and out. I didn't really expect to strike anybody out. I was hoping to jam some people. I had a good fastball. I hit 90 miles an hour, which happens a few times a year. I high-fived a couple of guys in the dugout and said, hey, pick me up here, I just hit 90. But Wakefield was really tough. He threw a great game, was phenomenal tonight, and I wasn't expecting very many runs, and next thing you know we have seven. So it was a great night for us.
Last night Jake I think threw 21 out of 28 first-pitch strikes. You were at a high percentage tonight, too. Is that something you guys changed from Game 1, where you looked at Game 1 and saw the trouble that C.C. had getting behind and were more aggressive?
Yeah, I think so, and this team right here is patient. They don't swing at bad pitches. If they fall behind, you have to come in the strike zone a little bit more. The strike zone shrinks in playoffs sometimes depending on which park you're at. I think our goal after the first game was to be more aggressive, try and get ahead in the count and make them hit our pitches.
How helpful is seven runs for you in
the fifth, and how long a wait was that for you?
I mean, it was very long. As a starting pitcher you can get tight during that time. No excuses, though. I need to make better pitches when I go back out there. We had a 7-0 lead. I really wanted to get us seven, eight strong innings at that point and I was a little disappointed. If you would have told me coming in, you're going to have seven runs, you're going to have to sit for 35 minutes in the dugout, I definitely would have taken it. So it's a good problem to have. It's a credit to our offense, which I think is a little bit overshadowed at times. We kind of sneak up on some people and you forget how potent this offense can be. Anybody in the lineup is a threat to hit a home run. It makes for some exciting comebacks, and you never feel like you're out of it. Even when there's a great pitcher on the mound, you feel like you have a chance.
You mentioned the offense not getting a lot of pump. What about the defense of this team? The last couple plays, the play that Cabrera made tonight, the double plays, can you talk about how that picked pitchers up?
I was saving that for the next press conference. I could talk about so many areas of our team. I could talk about the bullpen, I could talk about Fausto Carmona all day and the fact that he's turned it around and had a great season. Our offense, definitely our starting pitching. Yeah, I do think our defense has gotten much better. Comparing it to last year, I think we've made a few adjustments. Cabrera made a few plays tonight. He doesn't play like a rookie. Gutierrez gives us a lot of speed in right field. All the way across the board, I think we can beat teams in different ways, and we're a very, very well-rounded team. And I do agree the defense gets overlooked, too.
You're a contact pitcher. How much does that make your job easier not worrying with those guys behind you?
It really, really helps me out a lot. The addition of Kenny Lofton, just we have a speedy outfield now. It's really important to me. As you know, I can give up some fly balls with the best of them, so I think that I become a better pitcher when our defense gets faster, especially in the outfield.
Posted by Art Martone at 12:38 AM | Permalink
INDIANS 7, RED SOX 3: Postgame notes
FIRST PITCH: 8:22 p.m.
GAME-TIME TEMPERATURE: 66 degrees
TIME OF GAME: 3:12
-- A 3-1 ADVANTAGE: Cleveland has won 3 straight games in this series to take a 3-1 series advantage over the Boston Red Sox . . . Game Five will be played Thursday, following an off-day on Wednesday…It marks the 14th time in ALCS a team has led 3-1, most recently Chicago over LA in 2005…Of the previous 13 to build 3-1 leads, 10 have advanced to the World Series, the exceptions coming in 2004 (Boston, rallying for 4 straight after 0-3), 1986 (Boston, rallying from 3-1 deficit to California), and 1985 Kansas City (rallying from a 3-1 deficit to Toronto).
-- CASEY BLAKE tied a pair of LCS records: first with 2 hits in the 5th inning, the 11th time in history, the first since Florida’s JUAN PIERRE in the 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS (Oct. 14) at Chicago, second five total bases (HR and single) on his 2 hits, becoming the 3rd player in LCS history with 5 total bases in an inning, joining Pittsburgh’s BARRY BONDS in the 2nd inning of the 1992 NLCS Game 6 (Oct. 13) against Atlanta and Anaheim’s ADAM KENNEDY in the 7th inning of Game 4 against Minnesota of the 2002 ALCS (Oct. 13).
-- BIG 5TH INNING: The Indians scored 7 runs in the 5th inning tonight, a frame that lasted 35 minutes and featured 7 hits, 2 home runs, 1 hit batsman and 1 walk…The inning was the 2nd 7-run inning of the series for the Indians, who also totaled 7 runs in the 11th inning of Game 2 at Boston…It marks the 2nd time in ALCS history that a team has scored 7 runs in an inning twice in the same series, as Baltimore in 1970 scored 7 runs in the 4th inning of Game 1 against
Minnesota (10-6 win) and 9th inning of Game 2 (11-3).
-- THREE CONSECUTIVE HOME RUNS: For the first time in LCS history, three players connected on back-to-back-to-back home runs, as KEVIN YOUKILIS, DAVID ORTIZ and MANNY RAMIREZ hit 3 straight home runs in the top of the 6th inning…Three consecutive home runs in the postseason has been done just once before, in the 1997 ALDS, by New York against Cleveland in Game 1 (Sept. 30) in the 6th inning with 2 outs when TIM RAINES (ERIC PLUNK), DEREK
JETER (Plunk) and PAUL O’NEIL (PAUL ASSENMACHER) went back-to-back-to-back…The 3 home runs in an inning
by Boston tied an LCS record, the 6th time in history, first since Florida on Oct. 7, 2003…This was the 6th time in postseason history that the Red Sox have hit back-to-back home runs, the 3rd time this postseason…Ortiz and Ramirez totaled their 11th career postseason home runs with the Red Sox, establishing a team record.
-- MANNY RAMIREZ extended his LCS-hitting streak to 14 games with a 2nd inning single, the 2nd longest hitting streak in LCS history, one game shy of PETE ROSE, who compiled a 15-game hitting streak in LCS play from 1973-’83…Ramirez has hit safely in all 7 postseason games in 2007, matching Arizona’s STEPHEN DREW for most consecutive games with a hit this postseason…His 6th inning home run was his 10th career in LCS play, establishing an LCS record, breaking a tie with GEORGE BRETT, for most all-time…It was his 24th career postseason home run, extending his own record.
-- RED SOX STARTERS: In each of the last 3 games of this series, Red Sox starting pitchers have lasted 4.2 innings each, the 2nd time in Boston postseason history that three consecutive starters failed to pitch 5.0 innings…In 1999,
Boston starters lasted fewer than 5.0 innings in the final two games of the ALDS against Cleveland (Game 4 – 1.2 ip – KENT MERCKER, Game 5 – 1.0 ip – BRET SABERHAGEN) and in Game 1 of the 1999 ALCS against New York (4.0 ip – KENT MERCKER)…In the 2007 regular season, Red Sox starters never went more than 2 consecutive starts of fewer than 5.0 innings…The trio has combined for a 9.00 ERA (14 ER/14.0 IP) in the last 3 games.
-- KENNY LOFTON recorded his 34th career postseason stolen base, his 2nd this postseason, moving one ahead of RICKEY HENDERSON for most all-time.
-- KEVIN YOUKILIS committed an error in the 6th inning, his first error of the season and his first since July 4, 2006…Youkilis had totaled 1,644 consecutive total chances since his last error, including the postseason.
-- JHONNY PERALTA connected on his 2nd 3-run home run of this series, in the 5th inning off MANNY DELCARMEN, also launching a 3-run home run in the 4th inning of Game 2 at Boston.
-- ANOTHER GIDP: For the 4th straight game, the Red Sox hit into a double play, giving the team 8 GIDPs through 4 games, the most ever by one team in the first 3 games of an LCS of any length…The record for most GIDPs in a series
was set by Baltimore with 10 in 1997.
-- SHORT HOPS: The Indians have scored first in every game this series…TRAVIS HAFNER struck out his first 4 at-bats, tying an LCS record, the 7th time in history, the first since MARK BELLHORN for Boston on Oct. 16, 2004…VICTOR MARTINEZ and ASDRUBAL CABRERA batted right-handed against TIM WAKEFIELD in their 3 at-bats against him…The Indians announced a revised attendance figure for Game Three of 44,382.
Posted by Art Martone at 12:21 AM | Permalink