700pm- I have good news and bad news readers. The bad news is I am personally responsible for the Indians losing the last two ballgames against Boston. In a ‘pinch' on Thursday I stopped at my local convenience store for a tin of Skoal Mint.
The rat bastards were out of it.
So pressed for time as I was, I asked for Kodiak Mint. They were out of that too. All they had was Skoal Spearmint. I hate that crap. And I hear Skoal Spearmint may actually be bad for you. But I bought a can. That ran out last night. But now for the good news: Minutes ago I went back to the convenience store and, much to my joy and surprise, not only did they have Skoal Mint, but they had the ‘Buy 2 For the Price of One' deal. What a find. This was like finding a $20 bill in the jeans pocket. It was unexpected joy on a day where joy was in short supply.
That's a good omen people. A better omen would be if the Boston clubhouse collapsed and trapped a few players in the rubble, but I take what I can get. (And for all those who were trapped in rubble or know someone who was, that's a joke, okay? Refer to my rule about nasty emails)
Jake Westbrook and Daisuke Matsuzaka in about an hour or so.
Say a prayer, if you're into such things, for ‘Good Jake' to show up. And say another one for Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner.
735pm- No Tim McCarver, no Joe Buck tonight. Not in this home. They've been grating on me like dogs barking. The comedy I'll miss will be made up for by the migraine I miss.
742pm- Your lineups are posted:
Indians- Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko, Jhonny Peralta, Kenny Lofton, Franklin Gutierrez, Casey Blake.
Red Sox- Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, JD Drew, Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury, Julio Lugo.
Eric Wedge advises CC Sabathia and Paul Byrd are the first two out of the pen depending on when they may be needed. Everyone except Fausto Carmona and Aaron Laffey are on the deck for the Indians, if needed.
812pm- No pre-game viewing tonight either. Not STO, not FOX. If I want to watch a pig like Jeanne Zelasko I'll rent ‘Babe' or turn on Discovery channel. Just NBC football pre-game with the sound turned down. I love listening to Bob Costas with the sound down. Best way to hear him.
820pm- Game 7 in minutes folks. Let's see this through.
823pm- Kevin Millar throws out the first pitch and announces the Red Sox lineup. Nice frosted tips you hump.
824pm- Sizemore pops up to Pedroia to start Game 7. Randy Marsh is the home plate umpire for Game 7.
826pm- Matsuzaka gets Cabrera to ground out to Pedroia.
828pm- Hafner looks defensive and unsure again, even on the straight ones. And he flails defensively at strike 3 to end the inning.
As far as getting off to a fast start goes, not tonight in the first inning. Westbrook's turn is next. We'll know which Jake showed up relatively quickly.
832pm- Pedroia leads off the Boston 1st with a 2 strike single to left.
Wedge is looking scruffy with the beard. Not sure it's a statement. I think maybe he's just avoiding sharp objects.
836pm- Youkilis grounds a single to left. Fun already.
838pm- Westbrook ties up Ortiz with an inside fastball for a big strikeout. One out for Manny.
841pm- Ramirez gets a Fenway hop (it was smoked) on a ball hit at Peralta. It caroms off Peralta's glove and into left field for a run scoring single. 1st and 2nd with one out and Mike Lowell is at the plate.
844pm- Bases are loaded for JD Drew as Lowell hits a ball so hard to left that Youkilis can't score from 2nd base. This is an eerily familiar situation.
845pm- Jake gets the double play ground ball to Peralta to snuff the threat. Terrific bare hand turn by Cabrera. The Sox get a run, but leave some money on the table.
850pm- Victor hits a line drive right at Lowell for the first out.
851pm- Garko quickly and weakly grounds out to Lowell. Two outs.
852pm- Peralta makes it all Lowell, all the time with a ground ball the Boston third baseman handles easily.
856pm- Varitek doubles high off the wall to start the Boston 2nd inning.
858pm- Ellsbury hits a handle shot past Peralta and into left field and Varitek advances to third base. Nobody out.
Poise, patience and luck all in the Red Sox favor right now and you're immediately in the ‘damage control' mode again.
900pm- Lugo grounds into the double play as a run scores. That's damn good damage control.
901pm- Lofton squeezes the third out of the inning off the bat of Pedroia. 2-0 Sox after two complete.
At some point the Indians are going to likely have to score some runs if they hope to pull this game out. And the dam could break at any time for the Sox, as they've been close in both innings to opening up a big lead.
This team right now looks a lot like the early August team that struggled so mightily to score runs.
907pm- Lofton flies to right. One out for Gutierrez.
910pm- Dice-K gets Gutierrez on a pop out to Pedroia.
911pm- Blake is the first Indian base runner tonight after he singles to center. Blake then takes 2nd base on a ball to Sizemore that Varitek blocks but can't gather quickly enough to keep Blake at 1st base.
916pm- Grady can't deliver. He strikes out on a pitch well out of the strike zone and the Indians first scoring chance is extinguished. Dice-K looks like more like Josh Beckett with each pitch. Here comes the 2-5 gauntlet for the Red Sox.
920pm- Right back into the crucible. Youkilis doubles down the 3B line to start the inning. The ‘Good Jake' is AWOL. Westbrook has already given up seven hits. Jensen Lewis begins to throw for the Indians.
923pm- Ortiz bounces out to Garko and Youkilis advance to third. Ramirez again. And he's getting walked intentionally to get to Lowell.
925pm- Lowell delivers Youkilis with a sacrifice fly. Just very good baseball from the Sox. Two outs.
928pm- Drew flies out to Lofton just in front of the wall for the third out.
This Tribe team needs to get something going real fast. Minimizing damage is all fine and good, but you're now into the middle innings and the Sox have scored in each at bat. Time to answer or the noose tightens.
931pm- Obviously inspired by my long distance pleading, Cabrera pops up the first pitch he sees to Lugo.
933pm- Hafner hits one high off the wall in left and is standing at 2B with one out. Martinez stands in against Dice-K.
935pm- No breaks tonight. Martinez scorches a ball off the glove of Dice-K but Matsuzaka recovers and throws him out. 4 days ago that ball was rolling away from Tim Wakefied and setting up a big inning.
941pm- Garko misses a HR by 12 feet and settles for a run scoring double to get the Indians on the board. 5 yards to the right and its easily out of the park. Peralta stands in.
942pm- Peralta misses a hanger from Dice-K on a 1-1 pitch and then misses another hanger on 1-2. Peralta then grounds out to Lugo to end the inning and Dice-K may have thrown his last hanger.
949pm- Varitek gets another leadoff hit for the Red Sox to start the 4th inning.
951pm- Varitek is erased when Garko drops a liner off the bat of Ellsbury. Ryan recovers to get the force at 2B. Ellsbury is definitely a big threat to run and with a 3-1 lead, why not?
953pm- Ellsbury runs and Lugo singles to center to make it 1st and 3rd with one out. The Indians need a double play ball. Desperately.
957pm- The Indians may have just gotten the biggest desperation double play in franchise history as Pedroia hits a bullet back up the middle, off the glove of Westbrook, directly to Cabrera who tags Lugo and throws the first to complete the inning ender.
1002pm- Lofton is thrown ‘out' trying for 2nd base on a ball off the wall. He was clearly safe. And naturally Gutierrez singles on the next pitch. Terrible call by Brian Gorman who is doing his best to butcher calls at every base this series.
1005pm- Blake dumps a single into right to turn the lineup over to the top. Runners on 1st and 3rd, one out. That blown call is looming LARGE.
1008pm- Sizemore is looking Hafner-lost at the dish right now. But Grady battles through a painful at bat and lifts a sacrifice fly to center. 3-2 Red Sox.
1013pm- Cabrera is battling for his life here. He's spoiling pitches and getting back in the count. He took a very close pitch to even the count at 2-2. Dice-K gets him swinging with a nasty off speed pitch. The Indians need to hold serve with Youkilis leading off the Sox 5th.
Is it just me or is this a Florida Instructional League game where you can just send the same guy up to lead off any inning?
1019pm- Youkilis strikes out to start the 5th inning for Boston. Good, diving action on the Westbrook sinker.
1022pm- Ortiz grounds out to Peralta for out number two. Get Ramirez and the momentum clearly swings to the featherheads.
1024pm- Strike three called on Ramirez. Who's it going to be for Boston in the 6th inning?
For the first time since this game started I don't feel like the Indian are running uphill in cement shoes. Hideki Okajima will come in to replace Matsuzaka.
1028pm- Hafner flies to left off the tough Red Sox reliever. One out.
1032pm- Victor battles but flies out to right for out number two.
A two-out bomb from Garko would make things interesting.
1034pm- Garko goes with the soft, 14 hopper to SS instead and the Indians 6th inning goes quickly and too quietly.
1037pm- Lowell leads off against Westbrook in the 6th inning. He goes down looking for the first out. Jake is getting sharper as he tires. Not a surprise given he's a sinker ball pitcher who was probably amped up beyond belief to start this game.
1039pm- Jake gets Drew to rollover (not really all that difficult) on a pitch away and ground it to Cabrera for the second out. Varitek stands in.
1041pm- Westbrook strikes out Varitek. Outstanding work by the Indian right-hander in enemy territory and after getting knocked around early. Take a bow sir. Beautiful job. Now go and get the guy a run or 8.
1046pm- Peralta pops out to Drew and Lofton is next.
1047pm- Julio Lugo shows offense isn't his only weakness. He drops a pop up off the bat of Lofton and Kenny is standing at 2nd base with one out. Gutierrez faces Okajima.
1050pm- Gutierrez singles over the left field bag and Lofton is unbelievably held up at 3B by third base coach Joel Skinner. I cannot believe I just saw that happen. That was a third base coach scared to make a mistake.
1052pm- Good God. Bake hits the first pitch for an inning ending, momentum stealing double play. Its one thing to have an umpire make a mistake and cost you a run, but Joel Skinner simply whiffed on a no-brainer and cost the Indians a tie game.
I can't underscore the importance of that run Skinner just cost this team. 173 games played and it may come down to a boneheaded error by a base coach. Inexcusable mistake as the ball is right there in front of him and Lofton would have scored easily, probably without a throw.
1055pm- Rafael Betancourt replaces Jake Westbrook.
1058pm- Ellsbury hits a ball to Blake that he boots for a two base error. And just like that momentum is sitting in the Red Sox dugout as far away from Joel Skinner as it can get.
1059pm- Lugo sacrifices Ellsbury to third base.
1100pm- There you have it people. Dustin Pedroia solves the Betancourt puzzle. He hits a no doubt home run over the wall in left field for a 5-2 Boston lead.
1101pm- Youkilis grounds out to short. Two outs.
What a momentum sucking moment the Gutierrez single and Skinner stop sign was.
1103pm- Ortiz flies out to Lofton.
To say the damage has been done doesn't even come close to what happened in the last 15 minutes.
1107pm- Grady drops down a bunt single to start the Indians 8th inning. 6 outs left to burn. Need to do a lot of damage between them.
1109pm- Cabrera singles to center to chase Okajima. Papelbon to face Hafner and Victor. How about Cabrera y'all? Terrific season kid. One of the biggest reasons I'm excited about where this team is headed and not just where it is or where its been.
1112pm- Papelbon pitches to Hafner. Just a base hit Travis. Don't yoke yourself up here.
1114pm- Hafner goes down on 3 straight fastballs. Never touched one of them. Seriously, with the Travis is running right now, I'm just glad he didn't hit a ball into a double play. That's bad.
1116pm- Instead, Martinez hits the double play ball. But both Pedroia and Lugo mishandle the ball and the Sox get just one out. Garko gets a swing.
1118pm- Garko hammers a pitch off Papelbon. But it's to the deepest part of the park and Ellsbury runs it down just short of the wall in right center. 5-2 Sox as they come to bat in the 8th inning.
1122pm- Ramirez pops out to Cabrera on the first pitch.
1125pm- Mike Lowell hammers a Betancourt fastball to the gap in left center field for a one-out double. Drew to the plate to face Raffy Right.
1129pm- Drew singles to deliver another run for the Red Sox. 6-2. Why not.
Tim to check the message boards. Yes, pretty much as expected. The people who biched and moaned about the media and the Yankees advising that New York choked more so than the Indians actually outplayed them have all decided the Indians choked and the Red Sox blow.
Classic stuff. You should check out the boards people.
1136pm- Varitek doubles down the line on a pop-up that sees Peralta and Blake run into each other.
1137pm- Ellsbury gets the intentional walk too load the bases. Another run is simply death, if rigor mortis hasn't set in yet.
1140pm- Lugo goes down swinging.
1141pm- Pedroia owns Betancourt on this night. He doubles in all three base runners and it's 9-2 Red Sox. Jensen Lewis will replace Betancourt.
To get to this point in the year you have to huge years from a few key players. Rafael Betancourt had that year right up to tonight. Tonight doesn't tarnish what he's done. He's just on empty after a tremendous season. Outstanding season from Raffy Right as well.
1145pm- Youkilis unloads off Lewis for a two run homer and we've gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.
1148pm- Ortiz strikes out to end the Red Sox 8th inning.
1151pm- Peralta singes off Papelbon.
1153pm- Lofton lines out to Ellsbury who has moved to left in favor of Crisp in center field.
1155pm- Gutierrez lines out to center.
1156pm- Blake crushes a ball to enter that Crisp runs down to end the season.
We were treated to a great run by a team that's simply a year or so away. I'm not going to discredit and slander the Sox just due to my undying hatred of them. They simply outplayed the Indians in about every facet of the game. Their frontline starters out pitched the Indians Big Two and their money hitters were better than ours for the most part. Put that together and you get what you got.
The Red Sox win the series 4 games to 3 games. Thanks for reading. It's been a slice.