Friday, October 19, 2007

ALCS Game 5: Boston 7, Cleveland 1

The Pronk: still missing since Game 1.Well, we finally got our Game 1 pitcher's duel at last ... and while the game itself was different, the end result was pretty much the same, if marginally less humiliating. D'ohhh.

Rather than doing so in enemy territory (as had been the case in 1995 and 1997), the Cleveland Indians wanted to take the American League title in front of a packed house at Jacobs' Field on another unseasonably warm and breezy October evening. Already up 3 games to 1 over the Boston Red Sox, it may have been a bit much to expect a fourth consecutive win against this club, particularly with Josh Beckett on the mound once again. Much as he did in a shortened performance in the series opener, the boyish Texan completely dominated the proceedings: effortlessly sawing down Tribe batters all night long. Really, there really isn't much more to say than that: in Internet parlance, we got ourselves +o+4lly pwn3d.

(Gosh, that intro sounded an awful lot like this one, eh?)

C.C. pitches a tad closer to form.If there was any good news to be had on this night, it was that C.C. Sabathia pitched far better than he did in Game 1 (while still never quite attaining his regular-season form). Until the 7th inning (which is when Boston started to pull away), the beseiged Cleveland ace had only allowed 2 runs to score, using luck and his defense to smash down multiple Red Sox threats. Problem is, when you're facing Beckett, handing him any kind of lead is never a good idea, and a humbled Cleveland offense scored only once in the entire evening when a badly scuffling Travis Hafner knocked in Grady Sizemore while batting into a double play. Barring that lone instance, the night belonged entirely to Beantown.

Victor attempts to chill out Raffy-LTo the horror of the sold-out crowd, things got worse in the 8th inning. A possibly shell-shocked Rafael Perez, making his first appearance since his Game 2 debacle, couldn't find the strike zone and managed to boost his ALCS ERA even higher into the stratosphere than it already was (holy crap, 45.00!?!?), creating a mess that Game 2 hero Tom Mastny did his best to clean up. By the time that frame had mercifully ended, the contest was well beyond lost. With slightly rusty BoSox closer Jonathan Papelbon showing up in the ninth to finish off the proceedings (and get in an inning of needed work), this game could only have been beautiful to a Red Sox fan.

The bench is not impressed.And so, another travel day follows, with the series moving back to cramped Fenway Park for a Game 2 rematch of Fausto Carmona and Curt Schilling. For the Indians, they can tell everyone that Game 6 isn't a "must-win" situation as much as they like, but for them to allow Boston to force a Game 7 free-for-all is something no one rooting for the Indians wants to see happen. Assuming Carmona can revert to at least a semblance of his season caliber, this series is still well within Cleveland's reach at this moment in time, but the idea of another loss begetting a sudden death toss-up on Sunday night instills more than a glimmer of anxiety in my chest.

Bah, we'll worry about that when and if the time comes. For today, all either side and their millions of fans can do is wait.

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