Hell of a game! Tom Mastny!!
Will tell you about trying to see ALDS game 4 in the Miami airport last Monday night the next time I see you. A funny and sad story that almost got me thrown off a plane.”
When an Ohio friend living in Buenos Aires emails you about a pitcher born in Borneo who has a HUGE game in October against a team from Boston, you’re probably talking about a pretty big MLB game.
The Indians, despite getting next to nothing from their two front-line pitching aces, went into Boston this weekend to face the Red Sox in the first two games of the ALCS and came out of Beantown with a split.
Game 1 was a disaster for followers of the Tribe. CC Sabathia got his lunch handed to him and left after 4 1/3rd innings. Sabathia allowed 8 earned runs in a 10-3 Red Sox victory. Depression followed Sabathia from the mound as Indians fans wondered where their 2007 ace was hiding. After a Travis Hafner home run in the first inning, Tribe fans had little to cheer about and started concentrating on Saturday’s Game 2 despite the fact it was only 9pm on Friday night.
But an odd thing happened on the way to a Red Sox American league coronation Saturday evening in Fenway. Fausto Carmona gave up 4 earned runs in 4 innings of work but the Indians, on the strength of a big night from SS Jhonny Peralta, which included a 3-run HR, worked their way into a tie at 6 runs apiece against Curt Schilling and a host of Boston relievers. But heading into extra innings, the advantage swung back Boston’s way.
The Indians had blown through the strength of their bullpen in an effort to hold the Red Sox at 6 runs. Entering the home half of the 10th inning the Indians were forced to go to Tom Mastny, a pitcher near the bottom of their playoff depth chart. Mastny, a 26 year-old right-hander born in Borneo, had the thankless and dangerous task of facing David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell, the Red Sox three best hitters.
Somehow, some way, in 11 pitches, just 5 of which were strikes, Mastny retired the Sox in order in the 10th inning to set the Indians up against struggling Boston reliever Eric Gagne. The Tribe scored 7 times in the top of the 11th. It was an inning that featured a key run scoring and seal breaking single by ex- Red Sox outfielder and much maligned Tribe reserve Trot Nixon, another RBI hit from Peralta and an exclamation mark of a home run by struggling Tribe right-fielder Franklin Gutierrez.
When the dust from the offensive explosion had settled the Indian emerged with a 13-6 lead that Joe Borowski would protect in the bottom half of the inning. With that, the Indians returned to Cleveland tied 1-1 in the best of seven ALCS and momentum in the series had swung to featherheads.
In a season of many heroes, Mastny, Nixon and Peralta were perhaps the most unlikely of all for at least one night in Massachusetts.
They Might Be Onto Something
Sitting in section 119 Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium you could almost see the lights click on.
The Browns beat the overmatched Miami Dolphins 41-31 on a day where some of the prettiest passes Derek Anderson threw all day were balls that nobody on the field had a chance to catch.
Anderson threw three TD passes to Braylon Edwards and ran for another himself to carry a potent Browns offense to another 40+ point day. Anderson threw for 245 yards and those three touchdowns, but more importantly, he made none of those head-scratching decisions and throws into coverage that have come to define his time in Cleveland.
Anderson, when nothing was available down field or to his check-downs, threw three or four passes toward the stands and out of harm’s way. He was sacked just once, threw no interceptions and seemed to finally come to terms with the concept of game management.
DA has come to find Edwards as a security blanket, hitting the emerging star five times for 67 yards and those three TDs. Anderson also found Kellen Winslow five times for 97 yards and got production from both back-up Browns running backs, Jason Wright (20 carries, 59yds, 1 TD) and Jerome Harrison (8 carries, 57yds), who were filling in for starter Jamal Lewis, out with a bad foot.
Just as important as Anderson finding himself and getting the Browns to 3-3 before their bye next week, Romeo Crennel and the coaching staff seem to have made some discoveries as well. They have realized that this Browns defense is simply terrible and is unable to stop any offense. With Anderson emerging as an effective QB they seem bound and determined to try and outscore opponents, as opposed to actually stopping them.
The Browns moved the ball at will from the opening kick to the final whistle in dismantling a bad Miami team. They ran up 386 yards of total offense while allowing some guy named Cleo Lemons and running back Ronnie Brown to accumulate 356 yards and 31 points of their own.
The defense is a miserable mess right now. But if Anderson continues to mature and develop this team has shown it will at least be competitive against other NFL have-nots as well as the rest of the league. That could not be, and wasn’t, said last season.
In the Catbird Seat
Well look at this.
7 weeks into a rebuilding season, and in the first BCS poll, the rebuilding Buckeyes of Ohio State are the best damn team in the land.
Taking care of business. That’s what the Buckeyes did against again Saturday against an inferior opponent from Kent State. With Cal falling to Oregon State and LSU getting upset by Kentucky, the Buckeyes’ 48-3 victory over another MAC team has vaulted them to the top of the polls.
Ohio State used a school-record 90-yard punt return by Brian Hartline and a balanced attack to net 138 yards rushing and 263 through the air to overwhelm the Golden Flashes Saturday in the ‘Shoe. OSU’s defense allowed Kent an uncharacteristic 161 yards rushing but only a late field goal in pushing their record to 7-0 on the season.
The Buckeyes should beware however. No one has held onto the number one spot in the polls for very long and the challenging portion of their schedule starts next week against Michigan State. That game is followed by a visit to Penn State, home games against Illinois and Wisconsin and the regular season finale in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes are not dominant, experienced or plain good enough to look past any of those opponents. And a loss at this stage of the season, with their relatively weak schedule, would likely spell removal from the BCS picture.
Still, Jim Tressel’s team is positioned yet again for a run to the national title game.