Jake Westbrook pitched the Indians into a 2-1 lead in the ALCS tonight. Inducing 13 ground ball outs, and 3 double plays Westbrook put gave the Tribe faithful more than could be expected. The bullpen was excellent as usual. In fact, this game looked more like the 96 wins we saw over the course of the regular season. Jensen Lewis replaced Westbrook in the seventh and shut the door on a Sox rally. Rafael Betancourt was tremendous, striking out Youkilis, and getting Ortiz and Ramirez in the eighth. Borowski even recorded a rare 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
Providing the spark for the Tribe offense was again Kenny Lofton. Kenny hit a 2 run shot in the second, giving Westbrook room a little room to breathe. Cabrera came through with an rbi single, and Hafner added an rbi of his own in the 5th. The Indians managed only 6 hits, but they capitalized on those hits.
I have to say I was thrilled to hear Ramirez booed. The past 2 games have done nothing but remind me of how much it hurt to see him bolt to Boston for the cash. Obviously I would love to see the Indians win it all, but it is nice to see the Indians stick it to teams and players we dislike. Not much is better than going through New York and Boston to get to the big show. Now about 10 pm Saturday I was complaining about having having to play both of them in the same post-season. It’s funny how your perspective changes after a win.
So the Tribe has a 2-1 lead. It has been said many times that the odd numbered games are the most important. This was a key match-up long before C.C. threw the first pitch of the series. For the Indians to win you knew that someone besides the big two was going to have to step up. Tonight was big. Perhaps bigger given the way the Red Sox had hit our aces. It also takes a little pressure off Paul Byrd tomorrow. I expect to see the same short leash on Byrd, but he is quite capable of getting us into the sixth or seventh inning. I’m more concerned about the Indians handling the knuckleballer, or perhaps more importantly, how they’ll bounce back after seeing the knuckler.