|Splitsville: Indians tired but tied after evening ALCS in Boston marathon|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 14 October 2007 14:16|
Sleep was at a premium Sunday after a late, late night out in nippy New England.
The Indians were tired, for sure.
Tied in the ALCS, too.
With a record-setting, seven-run rally in the 11th inning of Game 2, the Indians, despite getting next-to-no help from their top two pitchers inside unforgiving Fenway Park, beat the Red Sox 13-6 in the wee hours Sunday morning to even their best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
At 1:37 a.m., a 5-hour, 14-minute Boston baseball marathon ended after more than 400 pitches, momentum swings and enough spine-tingling October moments to shiver even die-hard Red Sox fan Stephen King.
``It was draining, emotionally and physically,'' said Indians first baseman Ryan Garko, sporting a face full of stubble and the same dress clothes he wore on the flight to Cleveland. ``To be sitting here on an off day, down 2-0, would have been tough.''
Instead, the Indians felt relieved - and perhaps a little lucky - as they prepare to host Game 3 on Monday, the first of three straight at Jacobs Field, which hasn't hosted an ALCS game since 1998.
Cleveland will start Jake Westbrook against Boston rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka, who lasted just 4 2-3 innings in his playoff debut against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Red Sox, well, at least the few sleep-deprived ones who skipped afternoon naps and wandered over from the hotel to attend an optional workout at the Jake, offered some perspective on the defeat.
``It's just a loss,'' rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. ``I know we went into extra innings and they scored a bunch there. We lost the game. It's 1-1 in the series. We still have the same mind-set.
``Just because we lost the game, nobody's hitting the panic button.''
Maybe not anyone in the Boston clubhouse. But back in Newton, Wakefield and Lowell, Mass., precincts inside Red Sox Nation may be a little alarmed.
This was the type of game the Red Sox usually win in October. In fact, it was the first time Boston had lost an extra-inning game in the postseason after going 7-0-1 (a 1912 World Series game ended in a tie) in its previous eight.
In 2004, the Red Sox went 3-0 in extra innings at home en route to winning their first World Series title since 1918.
Manager Terry Francona was asked if a crushing loss could have a lingering effect.
``There had better not be any carryover,'' Francona said. ``That would be a horrible mistake on our part.''
Francona also snuffed out any thought of bringing back Game 1 starter Josh Beckett on three days' rest in Game 4. Regardless of what happens on Monday night, Francona plans to stick with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has been bothered by a sore back.
``What we're trying to do is set up our rotation so we can win a series,'' Francona said. ``Sometimes you can get shortsighted if the need for panic arises - perceived panic. If you lose a couple games, everybody wants you to immediately change what you've set up.
``The reason we set it up like this is because we think it give us the best chance to win a series.''
A Game 2 loss would have dealt Cleveland's hopes of advancing to its first World Series since 1997 a serious blow. Since 1985, only three teams trailing 0-2 have come back to win a championship series, and with Westbrook and Paul Byrd next in line to face Boston's powerful lineup, the Indians would have been in big trouble.
They looked doomed on Saturday when starter Fausto Carmona was pulled in the fifth and normally reliable left-hander Rafael Perez was touched for two runs. But Cleveland's underrated bullpen came up big, holding the Red Sox scoreless over the final 6 2-3 innings.
Jensen Lewis and Rafael Betancourt each worked 2 1-3 innings before Tom Mastny came in and set down David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell - Boston's dreaded 3-4-5 juggernaut - in order in the 10th.
``To come in and retire Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell when basically no one else has done that in about three weeks,'' said Indians pitching coach Carl Willis, still amazed by what he, 37,000 fans and millions watching on TV witnessed. ``No doubt, for Tom Mastny and the entire bullpen it can give you momentum to carry you through a series.''
It certainly lifted the Indians in the 11th.
They came out swinging and battered Boston for seven runs, starting the rally off Eric Gagne, whose struggles since joining the Red Sox have Francona wondering if he can use the right-hander again.
Cleveland's go-ahead run was knocked in by Trot Nixon, who spent 10 seasons with the Red Sox and remains a Beantown fan favorite. As Nixon prepared for his walk to the plate, Lewis sensed something special was about to happen.
``As soon as he went to get his bat we were looking at each other like, 'OK, he's going to do it,''' Lewis said. ``To have that feeling was awesome.''
To have a tied series may be even better.
Sabathia and Carmona, Cleveland's pocket aces, figured to give the Indians their best chance at slipping past Boston. But in two games, the 19-game winners and Cy Young candidates have walked 10 while pitching a combined 8 1-3 innings with a 12.97 ERA.
And yet, Cleveland is home with a chance to put the Red Sox away for the winter.
``If you would have told us that neither C.C. or Fausto would have made it to the fifth inning and we would have split,'' Garko said. ``We all would have taken it.''
If there was one down note following the Indians' huge win, it came at Cleveland's airport as the sun was rising.
``We got in around 6 or 6:30 a.m.,'' Lewis said with a smile. ``But we got punked. Boston got in before us, so they got to get off their plane before we did. We got shut out at our own airport.''