The excitement in the air was palatable. Game five of the American League Conference Series, a series in which too many people assumed the Red Sox would just role through, but they found themselves at Cleveland, down 3-1, in a “Do or Die” situation. A loss means the World Series dream was over, while a win would buy them at least one more game. This game even featured each team’s best pitching ace. Cleveland’s 19 game winner, C.C. Sabathia, pitted against Boston’s Josh Beckett, major league baseball’s only 20 game winner this season.
The first inning started out with the fireworks many baseball fans were hoping to see. Each team scored a run in the first. Kevin Youkilis started with a solo home run that shook Sabathia, who never looked comfortable at any point during this game. The Indians responded with Grady Sizemore scoring a run from third when Hafner hit into a double play. Unfortunately this would turn out to be the only run that the Indians scored all night.
This game remained exciting early. After the whole blow up about Manny’s “It’s no big deal if we lose,” comments, he added further fuel to the fire when he ran home, and it looked like he might have an outside chance if he slid, but he simply ran into the catcher, who tagged him out without a fight. This might have caused the entire Boston area to explode, but Manny gets away with being Manny because of his production. In the 4th inning he hit an RBI single, which turned out to be the go ahead run. This was a controversial call, since it appeared that it was a home run, but the ruling is that if it hits the top, it’s not a home run, it’s a ball in play, but if it passes over, then it’s a home run.
Although this play is sure to remain controversial, and would have been much more so had Boston lost, it appears that this was the right call.
And what would a rivalry play-off game be without smack talk? Beckett said something Kenny Lofton didn’t like as he flew out, and a very pissed off looking Lofton went from the first base line straight to the mound. The benches cleared, but the umpires were in place to defuse the situation, and no punches were thrown, but it was a tense moment and there were a lot of unhappy players on that field.
Sabathia never looked good in this game, and he gave up 10 hits and 4 runs in only 6 innings of pitching. What makes these numbers even worse, is that by the time he was pulled the Red Sox had stranded seven base runners and hit into two double plays, so the damage could have been far worse!
The Red Sox went blue collar in this game. There was no dagger in the heart moment, but they added one run at a time. Six different Red Sox scored a run, and Ortiz was clutch once again. The eighth inning saw the Sox score three runs, and for all intensive purposes, put the game away. The other problem for Cleveland was that Beckett was simply magnificent, and was simply un-hittable most of the night. He had a very low pitch count that allowed him to pitch eight innings, giving up only one run and recording 11 strike outs.
Papelbon, one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball, came into the ninth and finished off the Indians. Cleveland managed a little bit of offense, but in the end they just couldn’t push in another run or get any type of a serious rally going.
The Red Sox have new life, while Cleveland has to be reeling a little from how bad this loss was. They were dominated in nearly every facet of the game. With the series at 3-2, Cleveland still has a distinct advantage, but that was a heck of a game by the Red Sox, and one can’t help but wonder if the Indians feel the nervous fear of having let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers.