Saturday, September 29, 2007

Championship Series, Game 2

Cleveland faced a must-win situation in Game 2-- after dropping the first game, they desperately did not want to travel to Chicago down 0-2. They turned to Orel Hershiser to try and hold the line, while the Cubs handed the ball to Miner Brown.

I suppose this is as good a place as any to note that if it's the Indians and Cubs in the 2007 World Series, I called it here (much as I'd rather see the Yankees, of course...). [note added later- I'm clearly wrong, though unhappily not because the Yankees made it...]

For the ceremonial first pitch, the Indians recognized their first world champions and honored Tris Speaker, manager of the 1920 team (which represented the franchise during Season 1 of the Cloverland Leagues).

Cleveland was able to score relatively quickly off of Brown, striking in the 2nd on singles by Eddie Murray and Paul Sorrento, followed up by an RBI double by the ubiquitous Manny Ramirez. The Cubs escaped the 2nd and 3rd, no outs situation without further damage, but the stage was set. The Indians scored again in the 5th on a double by Alvaro Espinoza and a triple by Kenny Lofton. A walk, a double, and a hit batsman led to another run for Cleveland and Brown's replacement by Carl Lundgren. After another walk and another hit batsman, Cleveland's lead had swollen to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Hershiser was rolling. Orel finished with 8 shutout innings and only allowed 2 hits. Jose Mesa finished with a 9th that was perhaps more dramatic than necessary, but in the end maintained the shutout. Jimmy Sheckard had 2 of Chicago's three hits. Cleveland knotted the series at 1 game a piece as action shifted to Chicago. Game 3 will feature Charles Nagy vs. Jack Pfiester.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Championship Series, Game 1

The Series!

A capacity crowd welcomed their pennant-winning Indians home, hoping they could do what they could not do in 1995: win it all. Larry Doby threw out the ceremonial first pitch for Cleveland, and with that, the game was underway.

Game 1 pitted Dennis Martinez for the Indians vs. Ed Ruelbach for the Chicago Cubs. Ruelbach was the MVP for Chicago in the NLCS, who had a long layoff waiting for the end of the Yankees-Indians series.

Despite the difference in preparation, the two pitchers matched each other through five scoreless innings. Martinez worked in and out of trouble, loading the bases in the 1st before being saved by a Johnny Kling double play grounder. Ruelbach only allowed on base hit in five innings, but had control problems that led him to walk a few and take advantage of two double plays behind him.

In the 6th, Chicago broke through against El Presidente. A single by Steinfeld was followed by an RBI double by Kling, who scored on an infield single by Evers, following a sacrifice by Schulte. Cleveland came right back in the bottom of the inning, as a two out double by Baerga plated Kenny Lofton (ending Ruelbach's shutout streak at 22 2/3 innings), and Albert Belle drove Baerga in immediately after. Eddie Murray had a chance to break the game open after Ruelbach hit Thome (who is expected to miss 2-3 games), but he flied out to center, preserving the tie.

Martinez got in to further trouble in the 8th, putting runners on 1st and 3rd via a Steinfeld walk and a Kling single. Paul Assenmacher was called in from the pen to try and hold the Cubs down, but immediately gave up an RBI single to Wildfire Schulte. Assenmacher shut down Chicago afterward, but the damage was done. Ruelbach shut down the Indians the rest of the way, finishing the game with a strikeout of ALCS MVP Ramirez.

Cleveland hopes to even up the series in Game 2, pitting Orel Hershiser against Mordecai Brown, again in Cleveland.