Wednesday, October 17, 2007
ALCS: Indians grab 3-1 lead over BoSox
Cleveland 7 Boston 3 - Josh Beckett probably could have started game 4 on three day's rest, but Boston Manager Terry Francona was adamant that the starter would be knuckler Tim Wakefield, and for four innings he looked like a genius. But in the fifth inning, the wheels came off. Casey Blake (left) homered on a high, floating delivery from Wakefield to lead off the inning and the Indians just kept coming, eventually scoring 7 runs in the frame off Wakefield and reliever Manny Delcarmen. Blake started the scoring and ended it as well, with a bloop single to center that plated Kenny Lofton, who singled and stole second base, making him the all-time postseason leader in steals with 34, passing Rickey Henderson. In between Blake's RBIs, the Indians scored five more runs, highlighted by Jhonny Peralta's three-run shot to right, his second three-run homer of the series. With the Indians ahead, 7-0, the Red Sox finally got to Cleveland starter Paul Byrd in the top of the 6th. Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz hit back-to-back homers off Byrd, sending him to the showers. Manny Ramirez greeted reliever Jensen Lewis with a blast to right center for the third Boston score, but Lewis settled down and only allowed one hit after that. Rafael Betancourt, who has been nothing short of fantastic for the Indians, pitched two perfect innings in the 8th and 9th to seal the victory and leave Boston on the brink of elimination. The middle reliever has worked 5 1/3 innings between games 2, 3, and 4, allowing just 3 hits and no earned runs. Byrd took the win - his second of the postseason - surrendering 6 hits and 2 earned runs over 5 innings while fanning 4. The series takes a respite on Wednesday, resuming for game five on Thursday night at 8:00 pm. Boston will get their ace, Josh Beckett, on the mound, to face Cleveland hurler C.C. Sabathia. Cleveland will try to win their 4th straight over Boston after dropping a 10-3 decision in the series opener. The Indians' last trip to the World Series was in 1997, when they lost to the Florida Marlins and as young Josh Beckett. The last time the Indians won the fall classic was 1948. The Colorado Rockies, who wrapped up the National League pennant on Monday, await.