Monday, October 15, 2007
Good evening, folks.
First, a big thanks to AA for allowing a football blogger to drop his two cents on tonight's ALCS contest. We should be in line for a solid game, but if by chance it is a blowout one way or another, we can at least bank on Fox inundating us with their coverage of the "bugs" that plagued Jacobs Field during the ALDS.
We're expecting a little outage at 7p ET tonight, so if I'm not back for a few minutes, sit tight as Blogger says it will only last 10 minutes. Feel free to start commenting. If that's not your thing, you can send emails to firstandteninches[at]gmail[dot]com.
Hang on tight. Our buddies Joe and Tim should be right around the corner.
Apparently James Taylor wasn't available to read a lineup card tonight as Fox opted to have Jonathan Papelbon read the Red Sox batting order for those watching at home. 69 degrees is your temperature, and while we may have some rain tomorrow those in attendance can leave the ponchos in the fanny pack. Yep, we still have those in Cleveland.
Jake Westbrook was the only Tribe pitcher in the ALDS to get beat up by the Yankees, but makes quick work of Dustin Pedroia as he goes down on strikes. The Greek God of Walks Kevin Youkilis, get this, walks. Runner on first for "Instant Momentum" David Ortiz. He promptly grounds into a double play - albeit on a sick stop from Asdrubal Cabrera - to end the half inning. And you'll never believe it, but "Asdrubal" doesn't pass the Firefox spell check. Add. To. Dictionary.
Unfortunately, Tribe first baseman Ryan Garko wasn't as great as Pappelbon in terms of reading the lineup card, but it's nothing that practice can't make perfect. He mentions that Grady Sizemore is the best looking guy in Cleveland. Sizemore grounds out to short. Brady Quinn laughs at both instances. Eric Wedge doesn't know what to expect from Dice-K. Neither does Asdrubal Cabrera, who strikes out swinging.
Joe Buck lets us know that The Jake is one of the stadiums this year that gets to help the MLB judge the umpires' strike zones. Brian Gorman has an ERA of 5.11. Joe Borowski is jealous. Matsuzaka gets Hafner looking, and we're scoreless through one.
Did you know that Manny Ramirez used to play for Cleveland? He works the count full, allowing for a few fun facts regarding the veteran, and gets the walk. Mike Lowell goes right back up the middle and gives J.D. Drew a chance to let down Red Sox fans yet again. Well, looks like Garko had other ideas and boots the ball. Bases loaded, no outs.
Varitek pops up to shallow left, Kenny Lofton with the catch and the Dikembe Mutombo finger at Manny Ramirez who can't tag up. Coco Crisp also used to play for Cleveland, but was traded for two players who anyone outside of either Cleveland or Boston would even know. He proceeds to capitalize on the loaded bags by grounding into yet another double play. Westbrook and Garko are promptly thrilled. On to some Dane Cook...
Victor Martinez is up and down faster than I can even attempt to conjure up something witty, allowing time for a brief Dice-K still picture montage. Apparently, he's such a legend back home that no pitchers have thrown from the mound he used to practice on. You'd think that mound was in Pittsburgh based on that assessment. Garko lines into center giving the "quiet" Jhonny Peralta a chance to make some noise. He strikes out looking. The Fox Trak says so.
Joe and Tim nearly go to blows over the number of pitches that Matsuzaka throws. Oh nevermind, they're ok. But now so is every person in Jacobs Field as the 40-year old Kenny Lofton just went yard for the seventh time in his post season career. He's also #7 and batting seventh. Just sayin'. Ryan Garko called Lofton the mayor, so that provokes several political jokes from our crew. Trot Nixon, who used to play for Boston if you did not know, grounds out to short to end the inning.
Two up, two down as Lugo and Pedroia both ground out to the right side of the infield. Youkilis flies to right and that's all she wrote for that half an inning. It took Kenny Lofton longer to get out to left than the amount of time that he was standing out there.
At least I'll get to ponder the "Japanese-born" trivia over the commercial. Oh boy. Look at that. It's a Kenny Lofton commercial!
If I take anything away from this series, it will be that Casey Blake has the best beard in the big leagues. Which is good because he definitely hasn't had the best bat. He pops out to right. It looks like someone gave Royce Clayton a microphone for the game and is in on jokes with Chris Myers. While the crew chats back and forth, Sizemore lines out to center.
Our first fun fact of the night: Asdrubal Cabrera has a relative named Hannibal. While I attempt to figure out why that was relevant to the game, he lines into center for a base hit. I do think that the story behind the pearl necklace would have made more sense, but what do I know? Hafner gets a bit angry on a called strike early in the at-bat, but draws a walk.
Do they really need two sideline reporters in Myers and Rosenthal? And would they be called foul line reporters instead?
Very valid point. From now on, they're foul line reporters. At least Myers isn't wearing a pastel suit jacket with a paisly tie.
(Answer to previous Trivia Question: Masato Yoshi and Hideo Nomo were the other two Japanese-born pitchers to pitch in the post season. You know you were wondering)
Victor Martinez works Dice-K to a full count but swings at a ball that's about to hit him in the ankles, ending the inning. Ortiz and Ramirez after the commercial break. Web MD, ladies and gentlemen.
David Ortiz is an excellent low-ball hitter. So, Jake Westbrook pitches him a nice low one for him to drive off of the left field wall. Lofton plays it like the ball came off of a Plinko board, but Ortiz only beats out infield singles so is stuck at second with a lead-off double. Fox Trak says that Manny lucked out with a third strike, but fear not as the ever-nimble Ortiz can't dodge the ground ball and is out on contact. How's the groin there, David?
Now it's Man Ram on base instead. Lowell hits one about 500 feet, but foul down the left side of the field. He then grounds out to Casey Blake for the second out.
All of the immature youth out there will take kindly to the fact that Westbrook was 6-9 on the season. Present company excluded, of course.
Grounder to Garko who looks like Ozzie Smith...a heavy, white Ozzie Smith...making the play for the third out. And Jay-Z takes us to the commercial break. Hit me!
Trust me, if I wasn't blogging tonight, I would definitely be typing different "issues" into the WebMD browser. And no, I haven't driven a Ford lately.
Ryan Garko appropriately leads off the half inning, but pops to short for the first out in the fourth. Tim McCarver tells us some fireside stories regarding the mythical Gyroball. Something about doorknobs and screws. Inverted. Good stuff.
A filthy bender gets Peralta on strikes, so the crew takes a chance to talk to Sox pitching coach John Farrell about Dice-K's fastball. Two down.
Kenny Lofton can't repeat the power displayed during his last at-bat and grounds to Pedroia to end the inning.
Captain Varitek leads off the fifth for Boston. See, I know he's the Captain because he has a big red "C" on his jersey. He's obviously not leading by example through four as he grounds out to start the inning.
Uh oh. Grady Sizemore is coming out. Brady Quinn has gone from laughing to a look of intrigue.
Crisp and Lugo also ground out and Westbrook gets through another quick inning. Promo time, folks.
A quick commemorative camera shot of the retired number 455 (for the fans!), and we're starting the bottom half of the inning. Trot Nixon gets things going...nope, no he doesn't. He strikes out swinging for Dice-K's sixth Dice-K of the night. See what I did there?
Matsuzaka rubs his neck, but there's no signs of bugs yet in Cleveland. Casey Blake gets the invite to the ALCS and drives a single to left. Annnnnd a Grady Sizemore information blitz. Australia. That 70s Show. Grady's Ladies. That's pretty much all you need to know.
Ball in the dirt and the Best Beard in the Bigs heads to second. Whoa, did anyone else see that guy in the white suit and red shirt? He looked like a really thin Kenny Loggins. If not, we have John Adams on the drums, ladies and gentlemen. Clarence Clemons on the sax. Sizemore draws a walk. Two on, one out and Mike Timlin's up in the bullpen.
The Pearl Necklace comes to bat. Joe Buck lets us know that foul balls increase the pitch count, and Hannibal's cousin gets an RBI single up the middle. White towels a waivin'.
Travis Hafner looks displeased that a pitch thrown 16 inches off of the plate was called a strike. He responds by beating out a fielder's choice. Cabrera's out at second, but Sizemore comes in to score. A pretty sick play by Pedroia nonetheless.
Two strikes to Martinez, but it doesn't matter as he takes one the opposite way for a base hit. Good night, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Two on, two....
A little pitching change, and image change to break up the action.
Full count to Ryan Garko and Joe Buck makes fun of the speed of both Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. Like they got nailed by ground balls. Timlin strikes out Garko, inning over. Damage done...for now.
Dustin Pedroia leads off the inning for the Sox. Westbrook has more strikes than balls thrown thus far, which typically results in good things. Eric Gagne is perplexed and Pedroia grounds out, making for the 13th groundout thus far for Jake. Youkilis is obviously above groundouts and singles.
One on for Ortiz and Trot Nixon is more intrigued by his glove than the game. Raw-lings? I sense Franklin Gutierrez getting ready in the near future. Ortiz draws a walk, making two on for Manny.
The third base coach signals to not hit it directly at Ortiz's junk. Ramirez obliges by grounding to short for the third double-play of the night. More towels. More Miller High Life.
Now up for the Iiiiindians, Jhonny Peralta. Joe Buck recognizes the floating strike zone that has suddenly appeared in tonight's contest. Tim McCarver concurs with his buddy Fox Trak. No word from the TBS lead-off graphic. Peralta grounds out to third.
Lofton goes down on strikes and we get to see a quick glance of a very odd crease in Mike Timlin's face. Please tell me I'm not the only one that noticed.
Trot Nixon steps in using a bat that looks like it could be a TPX -5 judging by how red it is. No ping in the swing though as he grounds to first to end the inning. (Damn blogger maintenance strikes again!)
Well, look at that. Trot Nixon's night is done. Gutierrez is in.
Jake Westbrook, however, is still in the game. Mike Lowell pops out to start the inning. A moral victory in that it was not another ground out.
J.D. Drew follows up, singling to center. One on for Captain Varitek.
I'm excited that the Indians are winning. My fiance is excited that the game is going a lot faster than Saturday's. I somewhat agree until Varitek goes yard to deep center field, bringing in Drew with said swing. That's why he's the Captain. We're now both unhappy.
Still one down for Crisp. Coco works a full count and we may be seeing our last inning of Westbrook, assuming he even makes it through. Glad I mentioned his continued presence only a few lines ago. Crisp strikes out swinging. Karma continues to play with my mind.
Two outs, two strikes to Julio Lugo, but the speedy shortstop beats out the throw by Peralta and Westbrook's night is finished. And now a word from our sponsors...
Annnd, we're back. Likely Rookie of the Year Pedroia is up against fellow rookie Jensen "Don't call me Justin, Tim McCarver" Lewis. Lewis gets Pedroia swinging and promptly tells him where to stick his trophy. OK, I may have just made that last part up.
You knew it was coming eventually: The "Midge" montage featuring Joba, Jeter and Joe. Chris Myers shows us the cut-out bug that was in the Cleveland Plain Dealer this morning, and I'm officially embarrassed. There was also some killer coupons, if it's any consolation.
Hideki Okajima takes the mound, and Tim McCarver does not mistake him for Dice-K this time around. You live, you learn. Okajima gets Casey Blake to ground out to short. One down.
Steve chimes in with, "Did you ever wonder why those Indians fans who paint their faces like Chief Wahoo are single? It’s because they paint their faces like Chief Wahoo."
It could also be due to the fact that a lot of it isn't face paint.
Sizemore drives a 1-2 pitch about as far as you can without it leaving the park one way or another, but fellow center fielder Coco Crisp is there to make the catch.
Asdrubal Cabrera comes to bat, but is retired quickly on a pop to center. Joe Buck lets us know that there are some big bats on the way. And I slowly start to realize that it's actually a save situation right now. I think I might be sick.
It's Rafael Betancourt taking the mound and Joe Buck tells us that Kevin Youkilis sees more pitches than any other player. I could've sworn that Chip Carey said the exact same thing about Bobby Abreu in the last series. Anyone care to verify?
Tim McCarver says that Youk has the "uncanny ability" to foul pitches off to stay alive - which he does - until he strikes out swinging. One down.
David Ortiz wastes no time to lace a ball, just directly in the area of Franklin Gutierrez. Talk about a great time to get Nixon out of there.
A quick shot of the Wall of Fame in center field. Rick Vaughn, Roger Dorn and Rube Baker plaques aligned. Manny Ramirez steps in and is quickly down 0-2. We'll be reminded that it doesn't matter when Man Ram has two strikes. Betancourt misses his target, but Ramirez pops up to second to end the half inning. It's stretch time in Cleveland.
For those that were wondering, we do not have a guy to sing America the Beautiful during the stretch. We typically have an area choir student that just sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." We get witty and say "Indians" instead of home team. That's how we roll here.
Okajima's back for another tour of duty. Sir Hafner (pictured above, twice) leads off the frame. We get reminded that Joe Borowski is warming up and I immediately get queasy. Hafner grounds out to first, but four pitches later finds Vic Martinez on first with a walk. And that's all we'll see of Okajima and the neck-to-third base talk for tonight.
Manny Delcarmen takes the hill and quickly brings upon discussion about how awful Eric Gagne has been. Ryan Garko takes the plate for likely the last time in a few days. This is because Paul Byrd is pitching tomorrow and Kelly Shoppach will be behind the plate. Garko makes the most of his plate appearance by striking out swinging.
Peralta steps in with an oh-fer-three tag on the night, including two of Matsuzaka's six strikeouts. He's quickly 0-2. Make that 0-3 as Peralta completes the hat trick. It's Joe Borowski time. I don't think I can handle it.
After a quick stat about how bad Borowski has been against first batters, he gets Lowell to pop up to Garko at first. Garko catches the ball like it's a water balloon dropped from 50 stories up, but a successful catch nonetheless.
"Lets. Go. Joe."
J.D. Drew steps in and is absolutely crushing balls foul. Seriously, each one has been a bee-bee down the first base line. He barely misses Josh Beckett with one of them (which would have been oh so unfortunate). He takes the next pitch and drives it right to Sizemore in center. Two down.
"Lets. Go. Joe."
Captain Varitek will look to repeat his two-run home run from the seventh. Someone should let him know that repeating that feat would be impossible with no one on base. Yet.
I just realized that I hear Joe Buck discuss Borowski pitching in a Mexican league a few years ago. Way to boost the confidence of fans, Joe. Both of you.
Full count to the Captain. Crowd on the feet. Pop up to Blake at third. Caught. Tribe wins, takes the series 2-1. A perfect inning for Borowski. I can now exhale. Shapiro smiles from ear to ear, amazingly arching under his nose.
Thanks for hanging out tonight. I urge you to head over to The Thermocaster's coverage of the NLCS. When that's over, please head to First and 10 Inches for your football fix. The more you guys come over, the less I have to email Brian for cheap plugs of whoredom.
It's been fun. Goodnight, all.