Monday, October 15, 2007

As the Series Turns

Heading into the Jake for Game 3, I was ready for a shootout. The way that the two offenses had battered some exceptional pitchers (Josh Beckett’s intact reputation as a postseason stud being the exception), with Westbrook’s and Dice-K’s penchant for baserunners and struggles in the ALDS, I wanted to tell the fireworks guy to pay attention.

Then a funny thing happened – a pitcher’s duel broke out.
Jake was vintage Jake, the best escape artist since Houdini. Relying on a steady diet of smoke, mirrors, and sinkers, he induced grounder after grounder (15 of his 20 outs) and got out of every jam he placed himself in until Varitek finally chased him in the 7th. The Bad Jake that we saw in the Bronx was a distant memory as Good Jake shut down the potent Boston offense that had its way with C.C. and Fausto.

On the other side, Dice-K battled his way through 101 pitches, only making mistakes to the ageless K-Love and being touched up by a mini-rally that briefly reduced the churning in the acids in my stomach. The Boston bullpen came in and did what they were unable to ultimately do on Saturday, which is to keep the Indians’ hitters at bay.

But the story was Jake and the Bullpen.
After Jake exited to a raucous ovation, Jensen Lewis came in and pulled a Jensen Lewis – he struck out Pedroia and rather simply at that. With that K, the stage was set up perfectly for Senor Slo-Mo and JoeBo to lock down the final 6 outs and send everyone home happy. While it certainly appeared that easy and nice on paper, the actual final two innings could have made me lose my appetite permanently (will I ever have a normal stomach again?) and had me glued to my seat in the Mezzanine because (as a worrisome Clevelander) my Mom, who was sitting next to me, convinced me that every time we stood up, something bad would happen. So there I sat, straining to see between the people in front of me, going Jerry Tarkanian on the rally towel that they gave out. Of course, the fears were ultimately unfounded and the game was won, bringing on the jubilation and the litany of car horns and screams that accompany October baseball at the Jake.

But the Game 3 win represented something bigger and I don’t just mean a 2-1 lead…though that doesn’t hurt. What happened may simply be an extension of what happened in the 11th inning on Saturday night as this Indians team has now stood up to the Red Sox and beat them both coming back and staying ahead for good, protecting a lead.

They’re up 2-1 with C.C. and Faustastic throwing (probably) as poorly as they can pitch in the first two games.

They’ve beat them in a marathon game and they’ve beat them in a tight pitchers’ duel where every pitch, every foul ball, every moment was fraught with anxiety.

They’ve stood up to the big kid on the playground and perhaps sent the bully home afraid and a little worried if they have enough to take out the upstart.

Those feelings that everyone was feeling on Friday night, after 12-3, have been replaced with the realization (it arrived sooner for others) that the Indians are standing toe-to-toe with the Red Sox and my even be better equipped to close this thing out.

If some in the national media are still surprised by this and insist on the “giant slayer” analogy or the “David and Goliath” references just won’t stop – fine. The Tribe can play that game…they’ve still got the bag of stones and a slingshot in their back pocket.


Ron Vallo said...

PT, missed your posts the last couple of days.

Funny stuff these last two, especialy the part about your mom's superstitions.

When Varitek hit his homerun it dawned on me I had picked up a newspaper off the coffee table a few pitches before hand.

I wanted to put the paper back down so as not to jinx thinkgs any further, but I couldn't remember whether the paper had been face up or face down on the table.

I went with face up but man was I worried after that!!

Ron Vallo said...

By the way, if anyone can spare an extra "It's Tribe Time Now" ralley towel I'd be glad to reimburse you for the towel and the postage to New York.

e-mail me at"


Les Savy Ferd said...

funny, i never had "the anxiety" last night and I'm as superstitious as they come. As soon as the Tribe was up 4-nil I felt the game was ours... usually a bad sign. Then Varitek goes and does what he did... but still nothing, it was as if I knew Betancourt was going to calmy deal with the tougher of the last 2 innings (nice how that worked out, right? I prolly wouldn't have felt so at ease had Borowski gone to the mound to face Ortiz, etc.) and Joe would deal with the rest.

But that is what happens when you pitch well all game. You limit the number of times those monsters are allowed to bat. and outside of V's HR the rest of the Sox batsmen have looked very pedestrian all series.

PS, how wonderful was Youkilis's expression when he couldn't will his way on base vs Rocky! That mini-battle was a metaphor for the entire game imo.

Cy Slapnicka said...

I think my favorite moments from last night were Man-ram's ground outs to short. I felt like in games 1 and 2 our aces were trying to pitch around them rather than challenging them. Jake went right at them and did what he does best.

Cy Slapnicka said...

btw, anyone win the WS lottery? i offer the baltimorian up as your boy toy if you sell me one or many tickets at reasonable prices.

also, anyone know if they sold out last night? the attendance from the box score was 44,402. they had more at the fausto yankees game, but i'm not sure if they increased the size of the press area in the mezzanine or something (which by the way was empty during that game, preventing yet more fans from attending). i just am wondering if they didn't sell out at game time and if i need to be even more angry about their postseason ticketing policies.

Paul Cousineau said...

Didn't seem as crowded last night as the Yankees Game 1. Our seats overlooked the Batter's Eye and there was plenty of room in there for people to mill around.

Not sure why on a beautiful night at the Jake, but the crowd was pretty electric nonetheless.

Cy Slapnicka said...

b/c as i noted yesterday in the comments, the idiot indians didn't release tickets to the public. and when they realized they had extras, it was 4pm eastern, three hours before the game. and to my knowledge, they only released those extras to people signed up for the lottery, such as myself through the use of a password. and even if they released them to the public with that short notice, it doesn't shock me that they didn't sell them all.

i know it wasn't a lot of tickets, but how can you not sell out these playoff games, the demand is there. if you are selling a product with limited supply that is in high demand at a price that consumers are willing to pay and you end up throwing away part of your perishable inventory b/c you withheld it from consumers, you are truely a f@#king idiot.

and i was relying on these same idiots for world series tickets? and i'm to rely on these morons to generate enough revenue to sign CC? you don't need fireworks and bobbleheads to sell postseaon ticktes, you morons. you need to release them to the people that want to buy them.

t-bone said...

i thought it seemed packed to at or over capacity, but the white towels could have made that deceiving. the press had an extra half section in the mezzanine compared to last round.

cy, i hear your anger, but you also have to consider that both the visiting team and MLB returned unused tix for the indians to sell, and maybe those are the tickets you spoke of. i heard bob dibiasio twice on WTAM yesterday and he didn't mention the fact that they had tickets available. did that email you got come from the tribe, or from a ticket salesperson within the ticket office?

Cy Slapnicka said...

the email i got looked just like the other lottery emails i got. it was from and included a password to buy tickets. i understand the other team and mlb can return tix, but then release them to the public. and tell every media source in the city.

the crowd was outstanding on tv last night though.

t-bone said...

weird, maybe it was a "third" chance drawing. who knows. i just looked up the emails... i lost out the original LCS drawing on 10/1, but last friday morning (10/12) i got something saying i won and that's when i snagged tonight and thursday's games.

roomie said...

Same here, T-Bone. I got the late email too. I'll be up in the far right-field corner, probably the farthest seats from the field. No biggie, first Tribe playoff game.

I'll have my new "Fear the Pronk" t-shirt I found at Tower City.

roomie said...

It's starting to drizzle here at W.3 and Lakeside. Our friend McCarver actually made a good point last night that if Game 4 is pushed back a day, they could start Beckett on Wednesday on full rest.

his age is reason enough, but I have a good feeling against Wakefield. He owned the 90's Tribe, with all those guys swinging for the fences. This team is much more patient, I think we can tee off on him. The Byrdman will step up huge tonight.

8-2 Tribe.

rodells said...

Shut out again. No Series tiks for me. How disappointing. Some people are getting multiple rounds and tickets.