|Beantown meltdown: Indians collapse in lopsided Game 6 loss in ALCS|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 20 October 2007 20:01|
And like one of their supposed aces, the Cleveland Indians could soon be kicked out of the postseason.
Maybe they should be. Because the pitiful-playing squad that showed up Saturday night for Game 6 of the AL championship series at Fenway Park doesn't deserve to go anywhere else this October but home.
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland's No. 1A starter, couldn't get past the third inning and the Indians, once in control of this series, missed their second chance at securing a spot in the World Series with a 12-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
Fenway Park and it's rabid fans closed in on Carmona, and now he and the Indians are in a series as tight as can be.
``That was a tough one,'' third baseman Casey Blake said. ``But I think we're fine. It's kind of do or die for both teams. Fortunately, the series isn't over. What happened out there has to be water off a duck's back.''
The Indians were bad, and then some. Instead of clinching a sixth trip to the Series - and first since 1997 - they looked more like the fictional version of themselves from the film ``Major League.''
Was that Willie Mays Hayes and Roger Dorn out there?
By the third inning, Aaron Laffey was on the mound for Cleveland.
The Indians made two errors - on consecutive plays - and Travis Hafner went 0-for-4 and is now batting .130 (3-for-23) with 10 strikeouts, eight in the past three games. The way Hafner's flailing, you'd think Cleveland's DH was covered with those infamous midges off Lake Erie.
Just like fellow 19-game winner C.C. Sabathia in Game 5, Carmona failed to get the job done, and now the Indians need Jake Westbrook to bail them out in Game 7 or they'll join that long list of Cleveland sports teams who collapsed with a championship at their fingertips.
In the series, Sabathia and Carmona, who combined for more than one-third of Cleveland's 96 wins during the regular season, are a combined 0-3 with a 12.67 ERA.
But as poorly as they played, the Indians still have Sunday night to make amends against Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox, though, will also have ace Josh Beckett available out of the bullpen if necessary.
That's one Boston landmark the Indians didn't want to see this weekend.
Westbrook, who beat the Red Sox in Game 3, has a chance to make this Game 6 disaster disappear.
``It's going to be a challenge and definitely a lot of emotions,'' Westbrook said. ``I'm excited about the opportunity.''
Carmona's night was over early.
The right-hander gave up J.D. Drew's grand slam in the first, a tone-setting shot that came after the Red Sox loaded the bases on two infield singles and a walk to David Ortiz. Carmona nearly worked out of trouble, striking out Manny Ramirez and getting Mike Lowell to fly to right.
But Carmona, who felt his first pitch to Drew was a strike - plate umpire Dana DeMuth called it a ball - grooved a 3-1 fastball to Drew, whose homer barely cleared the towering wall in center to make it 4-0 and raised Red Sox Nation's feverish pitch. From all corners of the famed ``yahd'' came the mocking chants of ``Faust-o! Faust-o!''
Indians manager Eric Wedge wasn't about to complain about DeMuth's calls. If anything was tight, it was the Indians.
``We weren't exactly pounding the zone,'' he said.
Carmona's two-plus innings was his shortest outing since June 27 - 19 starts and countless pitches ago. The Indians would never admit it, but Carmona, who dominated the New York Yankees in the opening round, could be gassed.
He has pitched 230 innings, almost 60 more than the 23-year-old has ever thrown before.
``He almost worked through that (first) inning,'' Wedge said, ``and J.D. got him. Then things just sort of dominoed on him from there.''
Victor Martinez's leadoff homer in the second off Curt Schilling cut it to 4-1 and could have sparked the Indians, but Carmona and his teammates came unglued during a comical third inning when the Red Sox scored six times.
Carmona walked Ramirez and Lowell to open the inning and it wasn't long before the Red Sox looked like they were playing a game of ``running bases'' in the backyard.
At one point, the Indians had Kevin Youkilis hung up in a rundown but rookie second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera bonked the ball of the Boston first baseman's helmet as a run scored. On the next play, first baseman Ryan Garko fielded a grounder but threw wildly to second for another miscue.
Down nine, the Indians sat in their cramped dugout wishing the night would end.
By then, Game 6 was history and unless they can win Game 7, they will be, too.
``We have to bounce back,'' Martinez said, ``or we'll take our suitcases and go home.''