This running commentary worked out so well last night I’ve decided to give it another run. Kind of like if the Tribe decided to send Jake Westbrook and Aaron Fultz out to the mound again tonight, for kicks and giggles, just to see if things turn out better.
Which is obviously ridiculous. They’re going with Paul Byrd instead.
Volumes have already been written on that subject today alone. Let’s just say it’s not a decision the majority of Tribe fans would have made. Even the clinically optimistic ones.
711pm- Byrd is completing his warm-up throws in the visitor’s bullpen. Aaron Laffey, Aaron Fultz and Jensen Lewis lurk behind him. Apparently they’ll wait until Byrd actually leaves the bullpen and heads toward the dugout before they begin warming up in earnest.
719pm- This is why you watch the pre-game show. For analysis like this:
Ernie Johnson- “Cal Ripken, tell us right now, as it stands and before it starts, who has the advantage in the upcoming NLCS between the Rockies and the Diamondbacks?”
Ripken- “I don’t know. I don’t know much about the Rockies.”
There you have it. Hall of Fame analysis.
731pm- Tony Gwynn reminds me a lot of the “I ain’t gonna fall for the old banana in the tailpipe” black police officer from “Beverly Hills Cop”. The voice just doesn’t fit the man.
734pm- Nice to see Kelly Shoppach replace a hot-hitting Ryan Garko in the Indians lineup. Byrd is even putting pressure on the Indians offense before he throws his first pitch with his “personal catcher”.
737pm- First pitch to Grady Sizemore is a strike. The 3rd pitch is hit about 440 feet into the centerfield bleachers. 1-0 Tribe before I can open my Frost-Brewed Coors Light. 12 more solo HRs and I can quit drinking.
741pm- Everything from Wang is at 95-96 mph but up in the zone. Hafner singles through the left side on one of Wang’s sinkless sinkers.
748pm- Jhonny Peralta fights off a sinker and drops it into centerfield for a 2-out RBI single that scores Hafner. My liver screams out its approval. 2-0 Tribe after ½ inning and it is time for a prayer to Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle as Byrd takes the mound.
753pm- Byrd’s first delivery is an 86 mph fastball for a strike to Johnny Damon. Damon may be the one guy in the game that throws softer than Byrd. Damon grounds out to Peralta for the first out. Laffey and Lewis stop throwing momentarily in the Tribe bullpen.
757pm- Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu single to right field and Alex Rodriguez steps to the dish.
Byrd actually climbs the ladder on three successive fastballs to strikeout Mr. May for out number two.
802pm- Byrd retires Jorge Posada on a sliding catch by Kenny Lofton in LF. Fans and message board users who had the ‘Under 1 IP’ bet on Byrd are bent. 2-0 Tribe after one inning. After last night, forgive my stoicism. But I’m dancing on the inside.
806pm- Craig “Huggy Bear” Sager delivers the first of his informative on-field commentaries. Wonder where he keeps the gaggle of prostitutes that his clothes suggest he travels with.
809pm- While I was thinking about whores, Franklin Gutierrez and Casey Blake singled to start the 2nd inning. Kelly Shoppach, squaring to bunt, is nearly decapitated by one of Wang’s rising sinkers that hits Shoppach on the hand. They’re loaded for Grady and Mike Mussina is warming up in the NY bullpen.
813pm- Joe Torre makes the move to Mussina. I don’t see the fuss about this short rest thing. Wang looked very strong in his 1+ innings. Good velocity on those belt high fastballs. The Tribe needs to cash a couple in right here. Plus, the Yankees aren’t likely to score while the Indians are hitting.
818pm- Sizemore grounds into a double play and a run scores. 3-0 Indians.
821pm- Asdrubal Cabrera, who for most of this series has been tied up like a pretzel against Yankee pitchers, fights off a 2-strike pitch from Mussina for another 2-out RBI single. 4-0 Cleveland. I’m drinking Frost-Brewed Coors Light now to relax, rather than to numb myself.
828pm- Mussina gets Victor Martinez on a ground out to end the top of the 2nd. Get comfortable folks. Could be quite a few runs scored tonight.
833pm- The old-style double windup from Byrd and Hideki Matsui is granted time while Byrd’s in the middle of it. Whatever it takes when you can’t break a window with your fastball. Unfortunately, Matsui draws a leadoff walk.
837pm- Robinson Cano singles Matsui to 2nd base with nobody out. Lewis and Laffey pretend to stand up, yawn and stretch out in the Tribe bullpen as they sneak in a couple discreet windmills with their arms.
844pm- Bruce Froemming denies a check swing appeal on “The Human Canker Sore” Doug Mientiewicz. Not only did Froemming flat-out blow the call, but he also looked like a huge, fat pile of whale crap doing God, Mientkiewicz is an annoying human being and hitter. Not deadly, but just a festering sore you can’t easily get rid of. Bases loaded, one out.
846pm- Johnny Damon pops out for the 2nd out but Jeter bangs a single off the glove of Casey Blake to score a run and keep the bases loaded. 4-1 Indians. Could have been worse if Blake doesn’t get leather on it. Could still get worse. Laffey is officially and openly warming up in the pen. Middle Girl and Little Girl scramble in to ask daddy why he said the bad words after the Jeter hit.
Cookie time for daddy’s angels.
851pm- Byrd gets Abreu on a fly ball to Sizemore.
859pm- Chip Caray, Bob Brenly and Tony Gwynn must have gotten the memo. They are effusive in their praise for the Indians hitting approach this evening. The begging and pleading for Yankee hits and runs is sure to follow.
902pm- Despite a leadoff walk to Peralta, Mussina is settling in and hitting corners. He strikes out Gutierrez and Blake to end the Indians half of the 3rd.
903pm- Oldest Girl asks me if I think the Indians can get by the Red Sox. After I wipe the Frost-Brewed Coors Light that I spit out off of the laptop I demean, scold and lambaste her about ever looking past the series you’re in. She doesn’t fall for the cookie trick so I run and grab the guacamole and chips to soothe her. That’s a playoff-tested veteran move.
906pm- A-Rod is in a special groove that only October and pressure can bring out in him. He just struck out looking on a soft Byrd offering. That goes nicely with his swinging strikeout earlier. Posada follows that up with a double he scorches off the right-center field wall. But Byrd gets a ground ball out and another fly ball to Grady to choke off the Yankees in the bottom of the 3rd. 4-1 Tribe.
914pm- I just saw Jake Westbrook whisper to Eric Wedge that he’s available to hang a slider or two if the situation calls for it. Inspired by Westbrook’s unselfishness, Shoppach hammers a leadoff double into the left centerfield alley.
917pm- Oldest girl is chomping tortilla chips loudly enough to rattle the glasses on my nose. She is warned that a playoff beat-down is around the bend.
919pm- Sizemore walks. 1st and 2nd, no one out, and the situation screams for a bunt from Cabrera. And so do I.
921pm- Mission accomplished by Cabrera. Nicely done. The youngster has rebounded nicely after playoff shock nearly claimed him. The Yanks will walk Hafner and play for the Martinez double play.
922pm- Chip Caray: “Where does Martinez hit the ball Tony?”
Gwynn: “He hits the ball all over the place.”
Hope the Yankee scouts went a bit more in depth.
926pm- Martinez with a HUGE single through the hole between SS and 3b to score two more runs and the Tribe leads 6-1. Frost-Brewed Coors Light for oldest girl and me. Well, for me at least. She prefers Captain & Cokes.
Inning ends. How in the name of Mike Hargrove is this game in just the 4th inning? I could literally chew through a few of these cans lying around as I watch this.
932pm- Cano singles to start the 4th but Melky Cabrera pops out to an unusually alert and spry Peralta for the first out. I wonder if J-Honny went a fishin’ in Roger Clemens’ B-12 bag. Damon loops a soft fly ball to right for out number two. Jeter lines out to Blake and Byrd is making Eric Wedge look like the genius I always took him to be.
938pm- Speaking of Clemens, he was placed on the DL today and the Yankees activated LHP Ron Villone. Clemens strained an ovary or bruised a gill or some such crap. Slink off into the sunset you rat.
942pm- Mussina makes quick work of Lofton, Gutierrez and Blake. I mean really quick work. As in not even half a Frost-Brewed Coors Light quick.
944pm- Oldest Girl shows me her interim school grades. All ‘As’. Think before you criticize the author’s parenting methods of berating and then soothing with Captain & Cokes.
946pm- Stop the game and give A-Rod the ball. His one out single momentarily shocks the Yankee crowd. Apparently it shocked Posada and Matsui as well. Not used to seeing a pitcher work out of the stretch with Rodriguez hitting ahead of them, each makes a soft out on the first pitch of their at bat and Byrd is through 5 innings. 6-1 Tribe.
953pm- The Human Canker Sore nearly robs Grady of a base hit with another annoying diving stop. The crowd reacting to the call startles Joe Torre who immediately wakes up and barks out “Get Wetteland up and tell Brosius to get hug the line.”
956pm- As Cabrera flies out to Melky Cabrera, Chip Caray, waiting for the opportunity all night, blurts out “A little vitamin D from the Melk Man.” What a tool.
They then cut to a shot of Mussina sitting next to Clemens on the bench. ‘Done & Doner’.
Mussina gives way to Villone.
Interesting to see if Byrd comes back out. He’s given far more than I thought he would and you’re close to being able to try and limp it in with Rafael Perez and Rafael Betancourt. I’m going to mull that over with a Frost-Brewed Coors Light.
1002pm- Villone gets Hafner on a fly ball and it’s on to the bottom of the 6th. But not before a parting shot before the commercial of Robert Wuhl. Hard to believe he’s not off somewhere shooting another knee-slapping comedy special.
We’re 2 ½ hours in and 12 outs away. Not that I’m counting.
1006pm- Byrd is out there for the 6th. But not for long. Cano takes a pitch off the dirt and hits it into the Indians bullpen. Rafael Perez can pick it up and bring it to the mound with him because he’s coming in for Byrd. That pitch nearly bounced and Byrd deserved better than that. But Byrd stepped up tonight in a very, very big way regardless of what happens.
1010pm- Perez needs to get an out here. The Yankee crowd believes they have hope and that needs to be snuffed out as quickly as possible. Cabrera complies with a ground out to Blake.
1014pm- Shelly Duncan bats for Mientkiewicz and singles past a diving Cabrera. That’s followed by a single by Damon and now it’s right back to the edge of the seat with Jeter in the box. The Yankee crowd is in full throat. My kingdom for a 6-4-3 DP.
1019pm- I was way off. Jeter went 4-6-3 for the DP in what has to be the biggest pitch of this game thus far with Abreu and O-Rod looming. 6-2 Tribe through six innings. Absolutely nothing wrong with getting about 8 more runs boys.
1021pm- Kyle Farnsworth replaces Ron Villone in the top of the 7th.
1033pm- Farnsworth closes out the Tribe in the top of the 7th, allowing only a Peralta single. Interesting to see Wedge’s next move. Perez to face Abreu for sure. But then do you go to Betancourt or see if Perez can get you through the entire 7th? I believe if Perez gets Abreu he goes forth. If not, Raffy-Right enters.
1042pm- Perez strikes out Abreu. A-Rod to the plate. I smell ‘boos’ ringing down if A-Rod fails to deliver. Maybe I just smell booze in general after so many Frost-Brewed Coors Lights for 3+ hours of this torture.
1044pm- Uh oh. A-Rod lights up Perez for a long home run. The miserable, front-running Yankee fans have reason to scream. This is one scary offense. Now that Mientkewicz is out, there’s not a break from one through nine and every single spot in the order can take you out of the park.
1047pm- Posada grounds out for the 2nd out. Matsui stands in. Did I mention this lineup is extremely dangerous? Perez is laboring. He walks Matsui on 5 pitches. Two outs and Matsui is at first base.
1053pm- Cano grounds out to end the inning. I can remove the pillow from my face and watch the top of the 8th as the Yankees turn to Jose Veras on the hill. Seriously, a run or two would be better than sex right here. Well, let’s just say it would be really great.
1059pm- After Blake strikes out, Shoppach hits his 2nd double to the wall in left center. Cash this in and I put the sharp instruments away for an inning. ‘Shop’ missed a HR by a foot.
The Yanks will walk Sizemore and deal with Cabrera. Then they’ll go get Mariano Rivera to try and snuff out this threat. Terrific. Yet another stoppage of play. I should be able to listen to the end of this thing on my way into work.
1105pm- Enter Sandman one more time. Come on Cab. Give me a bleeder or something smoked into an alley. Nope. Rivera snaps Cabrera’s bat and gets a force of Sizemore at 2b. It’s up to Hafner.
1110pm- Off to Never-Neverland for the Tribe in the 8th. Hafner grounds out and we’re back to white-knuckle time.
1112pm- Apparently Frank Caliendo has a show coming to TBS? They should run some commercials or something to let people know.
1114pm- Rafael Betancourt relieves Perez. Cabrera hits a smash at Peralta. Jhonny has it hit him in the glove, picks it up, smiles at a Sports Illustrated cameraman and throws out Cabrera by a half step. Jason Giambi pinch hits for Shelly Duncan and swings over a nasty Raffy Right slider for the strikeout and out number two.
1118pm- Sit the hell down Johnny Damon. Betancourt does what Betancourt does and the Yankees are down in order in the 9th.
And for the record, there is no way in hell I go to Borowski in the 9th with the way Betancourt is throwing right now.
1121pm- Victor starts the 9th with a solid single to center. Peralta follows with his 3rd hit of the night to put runners at 1st and 2nd base. A run here is critical. One, it gives you a reason to stay with Betancourt. Two, even if they bring in JoBo he’ll have some extra cushion.
1125pm- For some ungodly reason, Lofton is not bunting here. Lofton gets Victor to 3rd but forces Peralta at 2b on the fielder’s choice.
1128pm- Gutierrez down on strikes. 2 outs. Casey at the bat. Blake smokes a ball to the track in deep left but Damon runs it down and it looks like JoBo in the bottom of the 9th with a trip to the ALCS on the line.
1131pm- It’s queasy time. Borowski v. Jeter. The Bayonne Bomber has the ball in his hand. Jeter pops up a 1-1 pitch on the infield for out number one. Two big ones left.
1133pm- Abreu stands in. Borowski’s 2-1 pitch goes way out. Upper deck job. It’s par for the course that after 4+ hours we’re sweating every single pitch.
1136pm- A-Rod v. Borowski and Borowski is quickly ahead 0-2. On a 2-2 pitch Borowski gets A-Rod to lunge at a pitch away and Rodriguez flies harmlessly to right. 2 outs.
1138pm- Jorge Posada represents the Yankees last chance. And he goes where Abreu went but 20 feet foul. Breathe JoBo.
“A long, loud foul”, says Gwynn.
1140pm- Swiiiiing and a Miss!!!. Posada goes down swinging and the Indians are headed to Boston for the ALCS match up this town craves. I’m probably headed to rehab. And if not rehab I’m going to have to head to a package store to pick up some supplies.
Hats off to Paul Byrd. There were thousands and thousands and thousands of doubters and Byrd did exactly what he had to do. He did his team, his town and himself very proud tonight. And the rotation will be set for a visit to the second most arrogant baseball town on earth.