American League Championship Series - Game 2
Indians 13, Red Sox 6 (11)
Series tied, 1-1
Helluva game last night between the Sox and Indians, full of the theatrics and drama that make baseball's postseason singularly entertaining. Shame Eric Gagne had to show up.
Ah, that's too easy. While Gagne's all-too-familiar failure was a proximate cause for the Sox' loss (and, let's give some credit where it's due, for the Indians win), he'd never have had an opportunity to continue his French ways (speaking of too easy) had not Curt Schilling failed his teammates. The Sox handed Schill a 3-1 lead after 3 innings, and he not only gave it back and then some in the top of the 4th, he failed to get out of the 5th, triggering a chain of events that stretched the Sox' bullpen to the ultimate Gagne/Lopez breaking point.
Manny Delcarmen didn't help things, either, failing to get through the 6th inning after Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell handed him a lead on the strength of back-to-back homers. Schilling's failure begat Delcarmen's early entrance and lack of command begat Hideki Okajima's elevated pitch count, which begat Mike Timlin in the 8th and 2 innings of Jonathan Papelbon before Gagne came bringing calamity.
While the Sox pitching staff didn't cover itself in glory, the offense rested on its laurels after putting up 6 runs in the first 6 innings. Much of that, to be fair again, was due to the outstanding efforts of Jensen Lewis and Rafael Betancourt for the Tribe. Betancourt's 2-out 9th inning duel with Kevin Youkilis was the game's single biggest moment. With the swift Jacoby Ellsbury on second base, and a base hit likely to be a game-winner, Youks battled Betancourt for 11 pitches before ripping a liner to left-center that stayed up just long enough for Grady Sizemore to glove it to end the threat.
The Sox had another chance in the bottom of the 10th after Papelbon retired the Indians in order, as Terry Francona kept pulling strings to give his team every opportunity to pull this one out. The scorching trio of Ortiz, Ramirez, and Lowell faced middling reliever Tom Mastny with a chance send the Fenway crowd home happy. Mastny, like Lewis and Betancourt before him, delivered for the Tribe, retiring the heart of the Sox' order without much drama and setting up the Indians' 11th-inning touchdown.
I'm moderately disappointed, because the Sox really should have won this game - they'll hopefully be kicking themselves all the way to Ohio. On the other hand, though, I didn't really expect them to win 11 straight - only Rockies fans can hope for that. This Indians team is tough, talented, and fairly deep. I expected and expect a tough series. And even in the loss, Lord forgive me, this was a fun game to watch. Until, of course, the Gagne reared its ugly head. Chances are, that won't happen again.