Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Brooms Stay in the Closet

With the Yankees’ pulse still beating after an 8-4 win in the Bronx to bring the series to a 2-1 advantage for the Indians, the ALDS sweep that would have been so sweet will have to remain in my dreams. While the loss was hard to stomach as the Yankees and their fans gleefully lived to see another day, who out there predicted a sweep for the Tribe?
Let’s all take a step back and remember that the Indians still sit in a great position in the series, up a game, with C.C. still sitting in their back pocket if the team is in need of an Ace in the final hand.

To start the game (with Jake’s sinker still darting and diving), the Indians did exactly what they set out to – get at the aged Roger Clemens and force him out, causing Joe Torre to go to the beleaguered Yankee middle relief corps. The Tribe was patient with Clemens, working counts and manufacturing runs while the Yankees saw their season slipping away. As Clemens unceremoniously exited the game (despite the announcers’ attempt to sugarcoat what was likely his last MLB appearance by pointing out that his last pitch was a K), visions of a repeat of Game 1’s massacre danced before my eyes with the idea that the Tribe would simply put the Yankees out of their misery and blast their way into the ALCS.

Of course, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain had other ideas.
Before saying anything about Hughes and Joba, let’s establish that both are undoubtedly talented young pitchers who have very bright futures in MLB. But, to me, their introduction to the baseball world this year (and all subsequent coverage throughout the season) by ESPN and most national media outlets is akin to that parent that brags just a little too much about the accomplishments of their child. For all I know, the kid may be a genius, a humanitarian, and a saint, but the way that their parent prattles on and on about their good deeds, I cannot help but hate the kid.
Because all I do is hear about how great they are and how proud we should all be of them.
We got it, all right?
Shut up about it already.

Same thing with Hughes and Chamberlain, who if they were in Arizona or Colorado would be a nice little story in that they both arrived in the same year to excel on an playoff staff. But, because they’re from NYC, all I get is Hughes and Chamberlain…Chamberlain and Hughes shoved down my throat.

Anywho, after tonight, I hate that kid that the proud parent brags about more than ever as the two youngsters rescued an aging and pressing Yankees team as they gave up 1 run over 5 2/3 innings, kept the Yankees in the game, and allowed the struggling Yankee offense to find their stroke (and some vast expanses of grass in RF behind Trot Nixon) against the Tribe.

It seemed early in the game that the starting pitching that had put the Tribe in the catbird’s seat was continuing as Westbrook did what he does when he’s going well – giving up seeing-eye singles, inducing DP grounders, and minimizing damage while eating innings on a low pitch count. Frankly, he was doing that until the Cano double and the improbable pop-up to RF by Johnny Damon that cleared the W.B. Mason sign. But when that ball starts to rise on Jake and the fly balls start, it becomes apparent very quickly that the sinker has lost its bite and that it’s only a matter of time before crooked numbers start hitting the scoreboard.

After the Damon HR and the Cano worm-burner that Trot Nixon simply missed (how long did the goodwill for Wedge putting him in the lineup last…45 minutes…an hour?), the Yankees had that bounce back in their step and, despite a nice rally in the 8th by the Tribe, Game 4 was a foregone conclusion.

And so, the Indians and Yankees will square off in the only Game 4 of the Divisional Series segment of the playoffs as Paul Byrd will attempt to escape the fate of Jake Westbrook’s 5th inning and the Indians will hope to re-capture their offensive success of in the series against Yankees pitchers not named Pettitte, Hughes, and Rivera (who smoked his way through the 9th).

At the end of the day, we have what we expected at the outset of the ALDS – not a sweep…a series.


darthbith said...

Does anyone else find TBS's coverage simply awful? Between the audio dropping out for a second every minute or so and their constant pandering to New York, I can hardly watch it! They talk constantly as though the Yankees were asleep through games one and two, when it was (in my clearly biased, but probably correct opinion) great pitching that won both of those games for the Tribe. Ah well, such is life in a mid-market town.

Jason said...

I predicted a sweep because I thought that they would be able to score enough runs off the Yankee game 3 starter to hold them off. Now I'm not so sure about Paul Byrd, but I still like the Tribe's chances against the combination of Wang on short rest and Moose. I don't know if Chamberlain will be available tonight, so if they get to face anyone else in the Yankee 'pen you've got to like our chances.

Let's just hope we see more of Jensen Lewis and the Raffies rather than Tom Mastny (who was warming up in the 8th) and Aaron Fultz.

Baltimoran said...

The indians have to win tonight, for the sole reason that i may go insane if i watch 100 more Frank T.V. commercials

Ron Vallo said...

I'm with you on the Frank thing. They've killed the show before it starts simply by drumming into people's heads how really awful it appears to be.

Fultz and Mastny should never see the field in this series, or any subsequent series.

Am I the only one who thinks pitching CC tonight on three days of rest and Carmona if needed Wednesday? It makes more sense than putting Byrd out there tonight. Byrd's nibbling style and mediocre stuff are made to order for the Yankees. They'll let him nibble away until he finally has to put it over and then they'll hit the daylights out of him. I see him going 2 2/3 innings.

Why not give yourself two decent chances to win one game instead of sending it to an almost-certain game five?

Les Savy Ferd said...

i'd like to take our chances with Charles Carsten, myself. Look at Byrd's very respectable numbers this year. break them down team by team and one very glaring discrepancy emerges. 31.50 ERA v the Yanks. thats 2 innings, 7 earned. and it was at the Jake.

I just don't like the match-up at all. I think Byrd is the perfect 4-man. The Tribe got so much out of him this year and that cannot be forgotten. But there is not one guy in that opposing team's line-up I can see not just pounding Byrd's offerings into the NY night.

however thinking this way does entirely forget that in order to win a game at Yankee stadium the Tribe are going to need more than 4 runs. They just are. I'd be more happy with 10. or 31.50. or 75.

and yet the worst case scenario is we go back to Cleveland with our Ace on the hill. If you can't win a Game 5 CC start at home when everything matters you probably shouldn't want anything to do with the Red Sox or a championship.

Best case scenario: Byrd is 'on', Tribe offense rattles Wang (a leagues better pitcher at home) and Cleveland wins 9-4.

Paul Cousineau said...

How many times did Chip Caray yell (yes, yell), "Here come the YANKEES!" after a single in the early innings of the game?
The folks in the Yankee dugout and in the stands were not the only ones giddy as the Yankee "2-liter finally burst".

The DiaBride had the best comment on “Frank TV”:
DB – Is that show supposed to be funny?
Me – I don’t know. I haven’t heard any reviews or anything.
DB – That’s not what I’m asking, because I can see that it’s not funny. Is the show actually a “comedy”?

I was able to get to the UPS store this morning to ship some Crisco, Bardol, Vagisil, and Vaseline to:
Paul Byrd
Visitors’ Clubhouse
161st Street and River Avenue
Bronx, NY 10451

I’m nervously tracking it to make sure it gets there on time.

rodells said...

Any chance Wedgie rethinks this and throws CC after talking to the big man today?

No, not the bossman.

TBS was doing me fine until last night's Soap Opera. Gwynn hasn't seen anyone with Joba-stuff besides Nolan Ryan? Caray completely showed his pro Yankee cap. I could go on, but I'm sickened.

t-bone said...

TBS - I too was fine with TBS until last night. There was a "and here come the Yankees!!!" at one point in Game 1, but last night was ridonkulous.

Frank TV - At least it'll have Kenny Roda in stitches.

Game 4 Starter - As I did in sometime early September, I have to again put faith into the 2007 Tribe wall calendar, which is 3 feet to my left here in my office. April was Grady, where he posted his best OPS month. May was Casey, his best month by far and the month he started his 26-game hitting streak. We'll pass on June (Peralta mediocre month) and July (Lee demoted to minors), but come August, the calendar karma was back. August was Westbrook, 4-1 and 1.90 ERA that month. September was Pronk, and he came out of hibernation last month. Who is October? Paul Byrd in all his high socked glory. That has to be a sign, right? Right???

Ron Vallo said...

Caray is a brainless empty suit who couldn't carry his dad's mic chord and certainly not his grandfathers'

To me it seems like they over hype whoever happens to be going well at the moment.

Financially, these playoffs have been a disaster for them since they almost wound up with no game 4. in any series. So they're probably rooting just to keep things going.

My biggest problem is just listening to Tony Gwynn. Besides having nothing to say except that both teams are good at working the count (what a revelation), he just sounds ridiculous. It's like listening to Will Smith's nerdy cousin from Fresh Prince doing a ballgame.

Les Savy Ferd said...

by the way, my vote on your vote-o-meter to the right is 4 and stays 4. 4, 4, 4.

Byrd will give up 4 runs in 4. Betancourt and Perez will pitch a total of 4 shut-out innings and Borowski will allow 4 baserunners before sending the Yankees home from the play-offs for the 4th straight year (beginning in 2004).

Pronk will go 4/4 with 4 rbi.

turducken. (I'm sorry, even my subconscious runs Frank TV ads now.)

4. Indians. in. 4.

Cy Slapnicka said...

How great would it be if the Yankees are getting smashed, Torre just puts Joba in and lets him pitch til his arm falls off. Then when he goes out to take the ball from the one armed wreck out there, he turns and flips off George.

And speaking of young pitchers in NY, imagine if Carmona pitched there? They'd probably make him a Saint and Photoshop him in 9/11 pictures standing with Rudy with a megaphone.

I am not too concerned about the G4 starter. If we pitch Byrd and he's shelled, we shoulda pitched CC on short rest. If we pitch CC and he pitches poorly, we shoulda pitched Byrd and not wasted CC on short rest. At the end of the day, Byrd pitched against major league hitters this year and faired well. A few bad games against the Yankees does not make it a foregone conclusion that he'll have another.

Love the comment about Gwynn looking like Carlton. I picture him dressed like Brother Mouzone from the Wire. I think someone should arrange a competitive eating contest between him and Kruk

Jason said...

My mom was visiting from Cleveland this weekend (I live in North Carolina) and we went out to watch the games. Though she has her share of Cleveland anxiety, she is really out of it when it comes to sports.

They showed the guys in the booth and she asked who they were. I told her and then she asked me if I knew anything about them. I explained that Tony Gwynn played for the Padres and that he had over 3000 hits. She said, "He wasn't that big when he played, was he?" I had to tell her that he wasn't a whole lot smaller.

Ron Vallo said...

Byrd hasn't pitched a good game since the end of August,