240pm- Only 4 hours and 20-some odd minutes until first pitch. I may be just a bit over excited about this one. In between now and then I have to drive from Madison to Euclid to pick up The Girls at my wife’s mother’s house. Not even she can take the joy out of my day. Though I’m sure she’ll give it a very strong run.
The pitching match-ups for tonight’s Game 1 of the ALCS:
Cleveland- CC Sabathia (19-7, 3.32ERA ALDS 1-0, 5.40)
Boston- Josh Beckett (20-7, 3.27 ALDS 1-0, 0.00)
Let me be perfectly clear about this: I absolutely hate the Boston Red Sox.
Everything about them makes me sick: their fans, media and their players. Their sense of entitlement sticks in my throat as if I’d swallowed a tar-covered softball. They act as if they’re owed October and World Series rings because of who they are, where they play and because they sucked for 86 years before not sucking in 2004. And that doesn’t even begin to get into the toolbox that is Curt Schilling.
No. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to knock this arrogant, egotistical team and town straight into early discussions about their personnel decisions for 2008. And getting just one of these first two games would go along way toward doing that. As in the last series, it sure would be nice to see Sabathia take the pressure off Fausto Carmona with a dominating performance in Game 1.
641pm- Watching Tim Kurkjian and John Kruk count out the Tribe is building my confidence. Watching Kruk doing it while looking like an unmade bed is enhancing my self-esteem.
I actually envy the players in the hour or two leading up to game time. They’re wrapped up in the process of getting ready. Stretching, throwing, BP all at set times. Meanwhile, my stomach feels like it felt when my old high school girlfriend told me she was “late”. And that was before we had even had our first date.
647pm- No surprises in the Tribe lineup. Franklin Gutierrez gets the start in RF over Trot Nixon. Nixon does, however, still have knuckleball/Roger Clemens bat speed so he’ll likely draw a start against Tim Wakefield down the road.
For Boston, $14.4million just doesn’t buy you what it used to. JD Drew sits against the lefty Sabathia and Bobby Kielty and his $2.1million right-handed bat gets the nod. You can buy 40 Dustin Pedroias for the price of one JD Drew. Don’t think the Red Sox wouldn’t do just that if given the opportunity.
7pm- Maybe it’s my TV, but I’m having trouble distinguishing between Kevin Kennedy and Jeanne Zelasko. Almost looks like Kruk and Kennedy in the Fox pre-game.
709pm- Just saw the commercial for the Fox Wednesday night comedy line-up. I’d have to call it the Kansas City Royals of Primetime Television if forced to describe it.
711pm- We’re under way in Fenway. Beckett strikes out Grady Sizemore to commence the ALCS.
714pm- Asdrubal Cabrera follows suit and looks than manly waving at strike 3.
715pm- Travis Hafner, on the other hand, looks quite manly as he unloads on a Beckett fastball and drops it into the right-field seats. One very big run in the first. The Tribe playing with a lead.
717pm- Fox’s Joe Buck informs me that not only is Victor Martinez ambidextrous in regard to what arm he can throw with, but also that he is a terrific athlete. I did not know either of those two things.
Victor takes strike three and the Red Sox are coming to the plate.
722pm- Nice trick. Terry Francona gives his Boston lineup while apparently gargling marbles.
723pm- If CC was a little drowsy when he took the hill, Pedroia just woke him up with a laser up the middle that found Sabathia’s glove for the first out.
728pm- Back-to-back singles from Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz brings Manny Ramirez to the plate. Ramirez singles to center to tie it at 1-1 and now officially owns every bit of Sabathia that the Indians don’t. And no one has a hit a ball softly yet.
734pm- Sabathia induces the DP ground ball from Mike Lowell and we’re right where we started after an inning.
740pm- Tribe goes very quickly in the top of the 2nd. Two ground balls to Lowell and a nice catch by Ramirez on a liner off the bat of Lofton. One more ‘Manny being Manny’ crack and I’ll jam some scissors in my ears and be much happier for it.
744pm- Kielty strikes out swinging after a called strike two that nearly bounced and hit him. CC will be tough to beat if he can continually get that strike called. Hell, Joe Borowski will be tough to beat if that zone is called. Sabathia’s sixth straight strike sits down Jason Varitek.
747pm- CC recovers from a 22 pitch first inning to throw 11 in the 2nd inning, 9 of which were strikes, none of which were touched, much less put in play. Is it too much to ask for just 7 more innings of that?
754pm- Beckett is sharp. Nothing up, everything hard and sharp. Gutierrez feels the wrath and is quickly back on the bench after striking out. Blake hits another ball that Lowell handles cleanly and there are two down. Sizemore looks completely and utterly lost and helpless as he strikes out for the second time as we head to the home half of the 3rd inning.
759pm- Julio Lugo leads off with a double and Pedroia sacrifices him to 3rd base. Think runs might be at a premium tonight? CC could use a strikeout right here and right now with Ortiz waiting.
801pm- Youkilis with a four-pitch walk.
803pm- Ortiz gets a Sabathia fastball in the ribs. They’re loaded for Manny who, while being a buffoon, sure does have a sense of timing about him. Not at all liking this.
807pm- Sabathia wants no part of Ramirez. Even ahead in the count 0-2, Sabathia stays way away and walks in a run. 2-1 Sox.
810pm- CC and the Indians are on the ropes early after Lowell doubles in two runs. 4-1 Red Sox and spotting Beckett anything more is death. An intentional walk to Kielty reloads the bases for Varitek ho can essentially put this game away.
813pm- Even the balls not hit hard are paying dividends for Boston. Varitek chops a ball to Blake who can get only the out at 1B for a 5-1 Red Sox lead. Coco Crisp grounds out to 3rd to end the inning from hell.
821pm- After Cabrera pops out Hafner puts together a terrific at bat against Beckett before striking out. Yes folks, we’re at a point right now where Hafner looked locked in and still struck out. Beckett has that kind of stuff tonight. A Martinez ground out ends the inning.
829pm- Julio Lugo is hitting baseballs like he hits his women. A 410-foot fly-out to center field.
830pm- Oldest Girl reads the pain in my eyes. She grabs the chips and dip from the kitchen and kicks the beagle at my request on the way back in as CC gets out of the 4th inning. The Middle Girl asks me if I think one can use gasoline instead of diesel fuel when making an explosive device and then walks out of the room whispering, “Hmmmm…” I notice its dark outside and tell Young Girl to get away from the pond and to stop poking at that dead frog.
835pm- Ryan Garko gets plunked to lead off the inning but is quickly erased on a Jhonny Peralta DP grounder to short.
838pm- Lofton lines a double down the left field line (as he is seemingly incapable of pulling a ball at this stage of his career). The Tribe needs a big two-out hit. Again.
840pm- Buck and McCarver pimp Frank Caliendo’s TBS show and his upcoming picks on the Fox NFL pre-game show this Sunday. I cannot escape Frank Caliendo so I’ve decided I will kill him. Perhaps with a gasoline-based explosive device and the assistance of a 9 yr-old inconspicuous girl.
843pm- No big two-out hit from Gutierrez. He watches a curveball for strike three, and half way through the Red Sox maintain a 5-1 lead.
848pm- Based on the alternating inning of effectiveness philosophy that CC is employing, the leadoff walk to Ortiz is not a good omen.
849pm- Neither is the Ramirez single that follows. Eric Wedge agrees as Jensen Lewis begins to throw in the Indians bullpen.
851pm- With a 5-pitch walk to Lowell, Lewis might want to pick up the pace in the bullpen. The bases are loaded and nobody is out.
854pm- The good news is Sabathia got the first out of the inning. The bad news it came when Lowell was tagged out between 2nd and 3rd base on a Kielty two-run single to right center field.
Sabathia is lifted after 4 1/3 wildly ineffective innings.
859pm- Varitek greets Lewis with a run-scoring double and an 8-1 Boston lead. Sabathia gives up 8 earned in his 4 1/3 innings. Joe Borowski supporters will tell you that if you just take away two innings Sabathia pitched well.
If this were a fight they’d stop it. If this were a Don King promoted fight they’d stop it and award the Tribe the decision.
906pm- Lewis gets out number three. Some pressure and strain on Beckett would at least be nice to see. That or a torn labrum.
909pm- Blake doubles to lead off the 6th. While Sizemore flails at various Beckett offerings before grounding out to Lowell, Tom Mastny warms in the Tribe pen. Mastny’s nickname is ‘White Flag’, for those of you wondering.
911pm- Cabrera singles into center to score Blake with the Indians’ second run. 8-2 BoSox. The Indians get more no more and trail by 6 in the bottom of the 6th.
912pm- While Tim McCarver has probably forgotten more about baseball than I’ll never know, it’s damn shame that he’s unable to remember a lick of it during a broadcast.
921pm- Apparently unaware of the alternating inning deal, the first two Red Sox single to start their 6th inning. Left-hander Aaron Fultz is coming on. When a game is so far out of reach that it’s a waste of time to use Tom Mastny, you know you’re getting an ass kicking. And if Mastny’s nickname is ‘White Flag’, Fultz’s nickname is simply ‘France’. Because that’s just an unconditional surrender of all hope and intent to win.
927pm- Fultz walks the lefty Ortiz to get to Ramirez with the bases loaded and no outs. Solid approach. Then Fultz craftily works around Ramirez to get to Lowell. Unfortunately there was no place to put him and the Red Sox get another run. Even Wedge is sickened and decides Mastny deserves the chance to be a part of this ALCS. Exit Fultz who recorded the same number of outs you did against the Sox.
934pm- Sacrifice fly by Lowell makes it 10-2. JD Drew gets a swing in a 10-2 game against Tom Mastny. This is why you spend $14million on JD Drew; for key moments like this one.
936pm- JD Boo flies out to center. Two outs. He’s as popular as Ann Coulter in Boston. Mastny strikes out Varitek and we go to the 7th because they make you play all nine innings.
944pm- Mike Timlin replaces Beckett. Garko hits a windblown pop-up between Lugo and Ramirez. Really, there’s no better place to hit a windblown pop-up. It falls between them for a single.
953pm-The windblown single was the highlight of the inning. Nothing across for the Tribe.
Let me interrupt this kick in the stones to remind folks that this game counts as just one loss in the series. And truthfully, it’s easier to take this beat-down than to lose a 2-1, 11-inning game. It does put more pressure on Carmona than you’d like to see a young kid under, but it’s the ALCS. You’re under pressure regardless of the situation. It also doesn’t do much in the way of giving Tribe fans much confidence in Sabathia. But that isn’t important either. Because Sabathia will maintain confidence in himself and his teammates will as well.
Momentum can turn on any single pitch in the playoffs. And when it does it can flip an entire series around. This loss is deflating. But that certainly does mean it’s defining.
1004pm- Huh…what?.. Oh… sorry. I dozed off there for a minute. Did theTribe bring in Rich Yett to pitch the 7th? Nope. Red Sox didn’t score. You know how people say to savor every second of the postseason? Screw those people. I have racquetball to play at 730am tomorrow.
1008pm- Blake isn’t listening. After about a 33 minute at bat he doubles for the second time tonight.
1012pm- Drew retires Sizemore on a catch near the wall in right. He did bump gently into the wall so you can expect him to be unavailable for the next 5-7 days. Tribe scores a run on a Cabrera sacrifice fly.
1017pm- In watching Chris Meyers interview Stephen King, I’m convinced King’s scariest book would be one filled with photos of Stephen king.
1021pm- Joe Borowski is getting an inning of work. He’s obviously treating it just like it’s the 9th inning of a close game because Ortiz hits a leadoff double and Ramirez walks.
1023pm- Joe Buck actually breathes between sentences and allows for brief moments of silence. This immediately rockets him past Chip Caray on my play-by-play list.
1029pm- A great at bat by Drew against Borowski. His one-out weak ground ball to Garko at 1B moved two runners in this 10-3 game. Varitek flies out to Gutierrez to waste Drew’s heroic effort and Borowski tightropes through the 9th.
1034pm- Chris Gomez is still alive. I know this because he just struck out on 3 pitches against Eric Gagne.
1037pm- A Peralta single and a Lofton double against Gagne draw boos from the Fenway crowd. Gagne is doing in 6 weeks what it took Drew months to do; become the bane of Boston. Gutierrez strikes out for the 3rd time tonight. He’s quickly becoming the bane of quality swings.
1042pm- Blake walks to load the bases for Sizemore. Gagne further endears himself to the Boston fans. Francona’s intent to give a carefree inning to Gagne is failing.
1046pm- Gagne comes back from back from a 3-0 count to get Sizemore swinging. This is one is finally, and officially, in the books as a 10-3 loss.
Ortiz and Ramirez were 4-4 with 5 walks combined. Keeping them neutralized will be the key to salvaging a game in Bean town.
Game 2 is tomorrow night at 8pm.