The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

ALCS thoughts

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 October 2007

Despite allowing 16 runs in two games, despite neither of the Indians’ front line starters going more than five innings, and despite being on the road, the Indians return to Jacobs Field tonight tied with the Red Sox 1-1 in what has suddenly become a best of five series where the Indians have the home field advantage. This wasn’t how the script was supposed to go, but after a season that began in the snow and was propelled by a swarm of bugs, to hope that things go as planned is to dance with folly. This is your 2007 season and these are your 2007 Cleveland Indians.

If Game 2 of the ALCS was the biggest win of the season then Game 3 is the biggest game of the season. If the Indians manage a victory tonight the Red Sox will be in a tough position for Game 4, much like the Yankees last series. The scheduled starter is Tim Wakefield, but Wakefield is recovering from a back injury, an injury sever enough that he was left off the ALDS roster and even a healthy Wakefield should not inspire great confidence in the heart of Sox fans. Though he played quite well for much of the season Wakefield is literally limping into October. The Red Sox do not know what to expect from him. Contrast that to the Indians and Paul Byrd. Say what you will about Byrd’s stuff — it certainly isn’t the beat, that’s for sure — but his greatest advantage for the Wedge and the Indians is that they know what they are getting with Byrd. He’s more than capable of turning in five or six innings of work. He’ll probably allow a few runs during that time, but he’s enough of a pitcher (in the Maddox sense) that Wedge can rely on him to bridge the gap between the first few innings and the buzzsaw of the Lewis and the Raffys.

Terry Francona’s other option is to start Josh Beckett on three days’ rest. Though Beckett has shown the ability to pitch well on short rest, the overwhelming majority of pitchers who pitch on short rest are not terribly successful. If anyone inspires confidence it should be Beckett, but nothing is for certain. Again, this favors the Tribe. Moreover, were Beckett to pitch in Game 4 that would disqualify him from pitching until Game 7. Meanwhile the Indians would pitch Sabathia and Carmona in the intervening two games and in each of those games our pitchers would be favored.

Any way you cut it the Red Sox will be in a huge hole if the Indians win Game 3. The benefit of home field advantage, a rested bullpen, a lineup that came to life in Game 2, and a team that’s riding the momentum of a dominating extra-innings victory all work in the Indians’ favor tonight. Dice K is hittable and has shown signs of fatigue. If the Indians can chase him by the fifth inning — whether through hitting him out of the game or forcing him to his pitch limit — then they’ll be in great shape to earn a crucial victory. Other than Westbrook’s sinker this is what to watch for.

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3 Responses to “ALCS thoughts”

  1. kiddicus said

    I’ll be there.

    For the record, I am 14-1 this year at games. I just jinxed this one.

    Westbrook scares me terribly.

    We will win this game if we can make short work of Dice-K. Boston’s bullpen (excluding Papelbon and that set-up guy) showed that they are NOT capable of facing Indians hitting. Gagne should change that “n” to an “m”. ha!

  2. HuskerTribeFan said

    I hope the home fans are electric. They need to be raucous tonight! I feel the energy swinging our way after that marathon win the other night. I agree that Game 3 is HUGE and a win would set us up nicely. C’mon guys… You can do it.

    “Indians Fever… Catch it!”

  3. I like Westbrook tonight. I have a good feeling about this game. Dice K can be beat.

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