The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

ALCS Game 7: The Tag or Joel Skinner?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 21 October 2007

The Tag: Lofton attempts to stretch a Fenway single into a double but is called out sliding into second. Replay shows he safe. Indians only score one run in the inning instead of two. Two runs would have tied the game.

Joel Skinner: Indians trail by one run with Lofton on second. Gutierrez singles down the left field line, the ball caroming of the wall in front of Manny Ramirez. Lofton rounds third but is held up. Ramirez is still twenty feet from the ball. One run would have tied the game.

Take your pick, Indians fans, on which designation will enter the lexicon alongside The Drive, The Fumble, and Jose Mesa.

Both were critical plays that resulted in the Indians losing at least one run. Had either gone differently the entire fabric of the game would have changed. Had both gone differently the Indians would have entered the seventh inning leading by at least one run. As it is the Indians suffered a small implosion and the rest, as they say, is history.

My vote: Joel Skinner. Hard to fault the ump for missing an admittedly tricky call. Skinner just screwed up in the biggest way imaginable. No excuse.

[Editor’s note: We’re making the executive decision that the game turned on Skinner holding Lofton at third in the top of the seventh. That’s what killed the game. If you think Manny would have thrown him out your insane. After the game he was asked what he would have done had Lofton turned for home. His answer? “I would have thrown it to the cutoff man and let him deal with it.” Yes folks, that was the ballgame right there. If you’re Skinner you have to send Lofton. Jonathan Papelbon was set to pitch the next two innings. The chances of making up that run against Papelbon were much smaller than the chances that Manny would throw out Lofton at home. Even if he had thrown him out Gutierrez would be at second. Joel Skinner, you messed up. Now go take your place alongside Jose Mesa and Ernest Byner.]

That said…96 wins, tied for the best in baseball, even with four fewer home games than every other team in the league. Sabathia is the likely Cy Young winner and Carmona will finish in the top five. Garko showed he can man first base for years to come. Betancourt transformed into the best set-up guy in baseball. Lewis and Perez emerge as scary arms in the bullpen even though they both began the season in the minors. The rally pies and Kenny Lofton turning back the clock. This was a great season, which is why it hurts so much right now.

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40 Responses to “ALCS Game 7: The Tag or Joel Skinner?”

  1. killingme said

    what the F**K is it with us??? Why can’t we ever, ever, ever, EVER just WIN????

  2. I feel you pain.

  3. Robin said

    ONCE…….Just ONCE is would be nice! You hold your breath for 9 innings……..what a heartbreaker! They are young and hopefully will provide us with a lot of postseason excitement. GO BROWNS!

  4. Jeff Witmer said

    I think it will go down next to the The Drive and The Fumble as The Stop. Years later kids will ask their parents who was stopped, thinking the Browns defense stopped a drive at the goal line or some such thing. Parents will explain that a coach stopped the Indians from tying game 7 by stopping one of the fastest runners in the game at third base.

  5. swarty said

    Skiner may have pulled a Grady Little (remember Game 7 in 03 at Yankee Stadium) and maybe Pittsburgh might think a little harder before hiring him after that rally killing blunder. Sad but true.

    But then Blake goes and swings at the first pitch!!! ARRRGH!!

  6. Jeff Witmer said

    Addendum to my earlier comment: Parents will also say to their kids that there is a life lesson here: When you lose your nerve, you lose. Or in the vernacular of sports: No guts, no glory.

  7. Jason said

    We lost b/c our pitching staff was exhausted and our best hitters went cold; the exact opposite of how the Yankees series went down.

    The outcome of this game (and series) had little or nothing to do w/Skinners’ call and/or Lofton’s double.

    Then again, if someone is ill-informed enough to think Byner or Mesa is the reason we lost those games, they’re probably the first ones to crucify Skinner in the total freaking team collapse we witnessed last night.

  8. Erik said

    Several things I now believe:

    1. C.C. Sabathia is not worth $20 million a year, though some idiot owner with big pockets and little brains will pay him that. It won’t be Larry Dolan.

    2. Fausto Carmona will be a fantastic pitcher with a great career before it’s all said and done. However, when you look back at his career stats in Fenway Park, they won’t be good. It all started when Fausto gave up the walk-off homer to David Ortiz last year.

    3. Eric Wedge presided over the last-week meltdown in ’05 and now this. I see a trend developing. Wedge is good for stability. For inspiration and getting his team to dig down for that “something extra” when the going gets tough, not so much.

    4. Joel Skinner is a very good third base coach. He knew what he was doing holding up Lofton. Regular rules of thumb don’t apply at Fenway Park. Left field is extremely shallow, so just because a ball ricochets into medium left, that’s like shallow left at Jacobs Field. And even though Manny Ramirez seems like a barely-functional member of society without a bat in his hands, the instant you underestimate him is the the instant he heaves a perfect, random strike to home plate and nails Lofton.

  9. mark said

    don’t forget 88 right.

  10. josh said

    Skinner obviously messed up but I wouldn’t put the blame on him for why we aren’t playing next week. The RedSox were a little better. Sure, Schilling and Dice-K aren’t worth the hype, but at the end they got through tough innings better then CC and Carmona. Boston hitters were more disciplined at the plate and worked our pitchers over more then we did them. We needed one or two guys who can do what Youk does at the plate. Hafner has too many 4 pitch at bats.

  11. Chris said

    Interesting… Wedge the next Marty Schotenheimer???

    Could be in the making.

  12. Joel Skinner is not the reason the Indians aren’t in the World Series. At the minimum look to CC, Fausto, Hafner, Gutierrez, Perez, and Sizemore first. Then look at the Red Sox lineup. Then look at the umping, a few bad calls, and a few bad bounces. All that adds up to 4-3 Red Sox.

    That said, Skinner made a Jeff Datz-worthy call in holding Lofton. No matter how shallow RF is in Fenway, Lofton reached third while Manny was still 20 feet away from the ball, ground he had a cover because the ball was moving laterally. Lofton would have been safe. The fact remains that it was going to be much more difficult to score than tying run in innings 8 and 9, on top of which you needed to count on your bullpen to keep the score that close. Lofton scoring would have killed any momentum in the Sox favor. It was a critical play and a critical mistake and it will be what’s remembered from this game in years to come.

  13. Ed said

    Hey folks, Red Sox fan here, I was just reading the posts here and while I am no doubt thrilled to see the Sox going to the World Series, I didn’t take much joy in seeing the Indians go down. Great team, great organization, great season. I wanted to add the following: I think Lofton should take some of the blame for the critical play. He’s a veteran guy with serious speed who knew the situation. Cleveland needed a run, badly. If there was ever a time for a guy to run through a sign, this was it. He could have turned, stopped, looked and still made it. Seems wrong for him to finger the coach.

  14. Ben said

    I’m surprised there isn’t more hate for Casey Blake. The guy swings at the first pitch to force a DP and then proceeds to boot a grounder and stare it at rolling away. Should’ve Skinner sent him? Looking back, ya. I wasn’t mad about Skinner holding Lofton until Blake swung.

  15. josh said

    Blake staring at that grounder was odd. I am sure he didn’t not hustle intentionally but it looked off. Had that been Manny, Joe Buck would still be complaining

  16. Down with the D said

    Cleveland fans, I cannot say that I have ever been happier to see a team lose as I was last night. Having visited your hole of a city this past season for a Tigers-Indians game, I can honestly say I have never been a guest to a less hospitable host. Having experienced and witnessed “guests” in your city getting spat on, beer poured on them, gum thrown at them, and being refused service further supports what most people outside your state have known for years (buckeye fan). You have no class. I hope you enjoy your championship drought for another 50+ years. Nice choke Cleveland. Put that one up there with the rest of your failed runs. The Browns, Cavs and Indians have amounted to nothing in my lifetime, while I have celebrated numerous titles by my home teams, as has almost every other sports city in this country. Face it. You suck, always have, always will. Go Sox or Rox. Doesn’t matter, the Tribe gave me reason enough to celebrate already.

  17. Gotta send Lofton there…it’s game 7 and you gotta be aggressive when the team’s having such a hard time scoring runs. Manny was five feet from that ball when Lofton was rounding third. There would not have been a play at home. But…this series was not lost on that play. Outscored 30-5 in the last 3 games. That’s the only fact that counts. This sucks hardcore either way. What I hate most about this (besides the disappointment of the loss of course) is that this will give fans liscense to wallow in self-pity and fatalism. Who needs it?

  18. Mike from Boston said

    Believe me. We here is Boston KNOW YOUR PAIN. We dealt with it for 86 years. Essentially, all our lives.

    I think the Lofton call was unfortunate. It would have been great for the game to have gone uncontested. There were a few other calls (mostly pitches) that were questionable. These went both ways (though non as egregious as the Lofton episode). I am looking forward to the instant replay as it will make the game better.

    Anyways, great team. We here in Boston say we root for the Sox, and the team that beats the Yankees. You certainly qualified this year.

    Best wishes next season.

    Go sox. Yankees suck.

  19. There’s assholes everywhere, D..go to Boston, NY, Phili, and yes Detroit (assuming that’s where your from) in the opposing colors and some drunk jackass will give you hell. Don’t let that reflect upon an entire city. Detroit was in the spotlight a couple of years ago for the Artest riot, touched off by a moronic Pistons fan throwning a beer. Somebody else threw a freaking chair during the ensuing fight. But that doesn’t mean all of Detroit is a shithole full of idiots. Use your head dude, and way to pile on while we’re down.

  20. kiddicus said

    ok. we lost 11-2 this game. even if Lofton reached 2nd in that inning AND Skinner sent him home, our bullpen sh*t the bed and gave up 11 runs. 11-4 looks better on paper.

  21. If Cleveland ties the game in the top of the seventh the game is completely different from thereon out.

  22. NHred said

    the real problem was the bullpen – red sox hitters got wise and got hot!

  23. J to the B said

    You must be kidding me.. “Sabathia is the likely Cy Young winner”
    NO SHOT. Josh Beckett is the best pitcher in the majors, season and post season. Hands down. No need for an argument or discussion on this. Case closed.

  24. BobH said

    I really hate the way Fox tried to blame Skinner for killing the Indians’ chances (before the game got out of hand). The guy had to make a split-second decision, and with only one out you don’t want to kill a rally. Turned out to be the wrong decision, but it wasn’t a stupid play. But the way they kept zooming the camera in so close you could count his nose hairs really pissed me off.

    Say Skinner sends Lofton and the run scores and the game is tied. So somehow now the next batter won’t hit into a double play? And the Sox won’t come right back and take the lead, then blow it open later?

    Come on. Trying to blame a third-base coach when your team is outscored 30-5 in the three deciding games is damn weak.

  25. 1) The Cy Young is a regular season award. As such it is voted on before the playoffs start.

    2) Sabathia and Beckett had nearly identical stats, except that CC pitched 40 more innings. That’s 40 fewer innings of wear on a bullpen. That’s 40 more innings of outstanding pitching. That’s the difference between the two and that’ll be the difference in the Cy Young voting.

  26. Beppo said

    I know it hurts now for Indians fans, but they had a great year, and they took out the Yankees in the ALDS when no one gave them much of a chance. It was awesome how they did it, too. And now the Yankees are crumbling, and may be losing several key veterans. The Indians had a part to play in that, and that should count for something.

    The Indians played the Red Sox really well, too. Over the course of the season plus the ALCS, it was one game (in the total) that was the difference. It all comes down to how many players are hot at the right time. Boston finally got production from other than the big 3 hitters and the offense took over the last 3 games.

  27. Grink said

    Although I am a Sox fan, I just want all the Cleveland fans to
    know that there is a great deal of respect here in New England
    for the Indians. I didn’t feel we were “safe” from a Cleveland
    rally until the very last out. The Indians are only going to
    get better each year…their time will surely come again.

  28. To those Boston fans offering up their compliments on the Indians, I’d like to give you a warm thanks. It was a great series by two equally-matched teams.

    To those fans who feel compelled to rub in the defeat, you’re classless and pathetic.

  29. Indians Forever said

    Hey Down with the D,it is apparent that you are just a stupid person! A person that has nothing better to do than to degrade a United States City, its people, its teams, You take me for a fan that supports the wining team regardless, you are a person that enjoys kicking someone when they are already down. You come to Cleveland for a Tiger-Indians Game, But yell “Go Sox” Your a fake….

  30. 52yrswait said

    So So Sabathia (0-2)
    Losto Carmona (0-2)
    Hapless Hafner (DH lol, even the Sox benched a non-performer (coco))
    Starting Daffy uh Raffy, even after being brought in Sat night & blowing it,in the 7th

    Bad Coaching
    Choking Pitchers afraid to throw strikes to ortiz & manny
    but there was great fielding, un nevermind. Choke

  31. Down with the D said

    Stryker,
    Yeah, I’m from Detroit, and I have seen my fair share of out of town fans. Never have I seen a visiting fan treated with the disrespect dished out to Detroiters on my trip to Cleveland. I’m sure you will find the occasional asshole here to, but this was not one or two fans, this was a city wide thing. The Beat Detroit shirts were cute, but it was taken way too far. Crminal in some cases. But, basedon my experiences with Ohio State fans in the past, certainly not unexpected. And as for piling on, I am just stating facts. I found this on ESPN.com, written by one of your own…
    Minutes after the Game 6 defeat, at 11:36 p.m. on Saturday night, a man named Craig sent an e-mail where each letter seeped with special pain:
    Oh man. Pathetic. I bought into the hope again.
    The Cavs … Jordan … The Browns … The Drive. The Fumble … The Indians in ’97 against the Marlins in extra innings … This year’s sweep of the Cavs by the Spurs … Ohio State getting blown out against Florida.
    I’m about ready to call it quits on sports, dude.
    I can’t be doing this all the time.
    At least the other losing baseball teams have another sport to fall back on. We got nothing. Boston had the Celtics, the Pats, the Bruins.
    Cleveland’s combined losing records over the years for all sports without a champion … 60 years for the Tribe. … 50 years for the Browns. … 40 years for the Cavs … wow … We are pathetic. I don’t get why we still sell out games.
    We got nothing.
    Game 7 is tomorrow, and honestly, dude, I am not going to watch.

    Craig, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  32. Down with the D said

    Indians Forever, you sound mighty bitter today. Sorry if you take my joy in seeing your team choke away a 3-1 lead as stupidity. Fact is, had the Indians choked that series away to the Angels I would have had the same joy. I didn’t matter who they were playing, I just dislike your teams. Its a rival thing. You know how Red Sox fans hate the Yankees? I feel the same about the Indians and White Sox. Sorry if you can’t handle the torture of another Cleveland collapse. If you are a true Indians fan you should have seen it coming. I did.

  33. Indians Forever said

    Well D, I will say your right that I am very bitter today, however we will see ya in Detroit and Cleveland next season, and when the Tigers Choke, it will produce a great amount of JOY for this Indian Fan.

  34. Down with the D said

    There ya go Indians Forever, show some spirit. Its been too long since the Tigers and Tribe had a real rivalry. I will give the tribe their due on taking the division from my Tigers. Too many key injuries this year for us to contend. As far as the Tigers choking, don’t hold your breath.

  35. Anonymous said

    DONT THINK SOX FANS HAVENT FELT THIS PAIN BEFORE.
    BUT ITS GOOD TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE FOR ONCE.YOU GUYS JUST CHOKED. NOW SIT BACK AND WATCH A REAL TEAM WIN THE WORLD SERIES !!!!!WOOHOOOO!!!!

  36. Herb said

    Hey, guys, it’s only a game. There will be more next year, I promise. I’m a former Brooklyn Dodger fan — still living in Brooklyn — and I know whereof I speak.

    Oh, and yes — remember that these teams we’re talking about are fronts for giant corporations. Just like, say, Microsoft. Why are we walking around with team logos on our caps when we would never dream of wearing a Microsoft beanie?

  37. Craig said

    Oh poor you all Cleveland fans! Alway got grieve yourselves!! Best thing for you all ……pack up your thing and change your career , move out ohio.
    move to Canada!! It is very peaceful country !! You can cheer 10 teams instead one town!! I cheer for Tampa Bay ,of course Red Sox, Philly Etc…… There is full important thing in your life… Be winner!! I hate worry nailbiting, no sleep etc… life is short!! lol
    P.s there are great free health service in Canada!!

  38. sauer kraut said

    Even the Red Sox Nation feels your pain. Just not this year.

    We waited 86 years, endured Dent and Buckner, and were sandbagged by roger dodger and gaitor the traitor. Be patient. It will come.

    But not this year.

    Go sox!

  39. Mike said

    If I moved to Canada and continued rooting for Cleveland teams, I’d need those free health services.

  40. There ya go Indians Forever, show some spirit. Its been too long since the Tigers and Tribe had a real rivalry. I will give the tribe their due on taking the division from my Tigers. Too many key injuries this year for us to contend. As far as the Tigers choking, don’t hold your breath.

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