|Lofton leads by example for inexperienced Indians|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 04 October 2007 23:34|
Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Cleveland again, Chicago (South Side), San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Chicago (North Side), New York (Bronx), Philadelphia, Los Angeles (NL), Texas, and finally back to Cleveland.
He's been everywhere, man.
In search of a World Series ring.
Lofton has been to the playoffs 11 times in his 17-year career.
``Haven't won it all,'' he said, relaxing in a recliner near his locker. ``Have to win it sooner or later.''
He's hoping this is the year - and he helped the Indians get off to a great start Thursday night with a big game in their AL playoff opener. The 40-year-old Lofton went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a stolen base in a 12-3 victory over the New York Yankees.
``Kenny's a big-game player. He's really given us a boost in the bottom of our lineup,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ``We're a team that really needs to do it from head to toe.''
Lofton, who returned for a third stint with the Indians via a trade in July, is enjoying this postseason ride as much as any. The speedy outfielder, who doesn't seem to have lost a step, thinks this could be the October when Cleveland finally ends a championship drought dating to 1948.
Once a wet-behind-the-ears playoff rookie, Lofton now finds himself mentoring his young teammates, many of whom are in the postseason for the first time.
``I've told them to seize the moment, because you never know,'' he said. ``You may not get another chance to get back.''
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: The Los Angeles Angels have never faced Boston Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, and manager Mike Scioscia said videotape and scouting reports can only reveal so much before the rookie pitches Game 2 of their AL playoff series.
Scioscia compared it to preparing for a golf tournament by practicing on a driving range.
``Until you get out on the golf course, you never know how it's going to play,'' he said.
``There probably will be a slight edge until we see some pitches with a new pitcher,'' Scioscia added. ``We have to make a quick study.''
But Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero said his team's unfamiliarity with Matsuzaka doesn't mean much.
``I don't see any advantage because you face so many guys throughout the year you haven't faced before,'' Guerrero said. ``I'm going to see how he pitches to me, and then I'll make an adjustment.''
BACK TO BRANDON?: Arizona manager Bob Melvin might consider starting ace Brandon Webb on three days' rest in Game 4 against the Chicago Cubs.
Rookie Micah Owings, who has pitched well despite being dropped from the rotation in late September, is scheduled to start Sunday at Wrigley Field.
``Anything can change over the course of whatever happens,'' Melvin said Thursday before his team won 8-4 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NL division series. ``I'm just not prepared to even go there yet. We're on today's game.''
Webb threw 89 pitches Wednesday in a 3-1 victory over the Cubs in the opener. But Melvin said he wasn't thinking about Webb's pitch count when he pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning. The Diamondbacks led 2-1 and had runners at second and third with one out.
``Anytime you take Brandon Webb out of a game where his pitch count is low and he's ahead, it's a difficult decision to have to make,'' Melvin said.
Webb has not pitched on short rest this season. He has thrown a career-high 243 1-3 innings, including the playoff opener.
``That's a lot of innings,'' Melvin said.
Owings has not allowed a run in his last two starts, a span of 15 1-3 innings.
GENERATION GAP: Andy Pettitte has been in this situation before. Fausto Carmona has only dreamed about it.
The pitching matchup between Pettitte and Carmona in Game 2 of the Yankees-Indians AL division series features a 35-year-old lefty with a 14-9 postseason record and a 23-year-old right-hander who wasn't supposed to be on Cleveland's opening-day roster.
Pettitte's teams have reached the playoffs in 12 of his 13 seasons, including all 10 with New York.
``I've had the opportunity to do this so many times that really, again, I've told you all, I feel like I've been extremely spoiled,'' Pettitte told reporters Thursday before Game 1.
New York is hoping for a big effort from Pettitte on Friday after losing the series opener 12-3.
Carmona is making his first playoff appearance, but the quiet and laid-back sinkerball pitcher didn't expect to feel any jitters before Game 2.
``I know it's a big game, but that doesn't bother me,'' he said through a translator. ``I know it's the same baseball. I pitched against those guys before and that's how I'm going to approach it.''
Carmona, who failed when the Indians tried to make him a closer last season, was supposed to start the year at Triple-A Buffalo. But injuries to Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook put him in the rotation early.
The right-hander won 19 games, matching teammate C.C. Sabathia, and his 3.06 ERA was second only to John Lackey of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL.
Pettitte is tied with Tom Glavine for the second-most postseason wins (Atlanta's John Smoltz has 15). Pettitte will match Glavine for the most postseason starts with 35.
SOME BIRTHDAY: Kyle Lohse blew out birthday candles and blew the game for the Phillies.
Philadelphia's scheduled Game 4 starter was used in relief of Kyle Kendrick in the fourth inning Thursday with the bases loaded and two outs. Lohse, who made only two relief appearances all year, gave up a grand slam to Colorado's Kaz Matsui, and the Phillies never recovered.
``Wrong guy, wrong spot,'' Lohse said.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel defended the move.
``He can give us powerful innings and that's one reason why I had him in there,'' Manuel said. ``I felt like he was the right guy at the right time.''
Lohse might have preferred receiving something other than this jam on his 29th birthday. But he was one of the first Phillies at his locker after the game and fielded questions for nearly 20 minutes.
``That's why I'm down there, to come in in tough situations,'' he said. ``I tried to stop a big inning before it happened.''