Kind of a big game tonight for the Yanks; will it all destruct? It's Fausto Carmona for the Indians and Andy Pettitte for the Yankees. And your live blogger once again is the great Matt Sussman, who did an awfully bangup job yesterday. Enjoy his comedic stylings after the jump.
Goodnight, Rivera. Goodnight, moon. Goodnight, mush. Hello, Luis Vizcaino. He walks Kenny Lofton, who reaches for the fourth time tonight. (Oh, and the Red Sox lead 2-0 in the other game, if you care.) Gutierrez fails to lay down the bunt in his first two attempts. Who needs to sacrifice? Gutierrez singles through the left side of the infield.
And up comes Torgo. (By the way, if you don't have a damn clue what I'm talking about, it's a character from "Manos: Hands of Fate." See for yourself, and tell me the guy who just bunted up Gutierrez and Lofton up a base each doesn't look like Torgo.) Sizemore is purposely walked, and with one out, Asdrubal Cabrera wants to be a hero. The infield's in. The outfield's in. Craig Sager's jacket is ... no it's not.
The count's 2-2. Could he be walked in? Why, no. Cabrera pops out. That's the exact opposite of the intended result.
It's up to Hafner now. The count's 2-1 ... 2-2 ... 3-2 ... BASE HIT TO RIGHT CENTER! But, to be fair, that wasn't A-Rod's fault. He couldn't have possibly caught that.
So, now that the game's over, I don't have to continue the live blog anymore, but I do want to share one more ...
Fun, Fallible Fact About: JASON GIAMBI! His hair contains so much oil, four Middle Eastern countries lay claim to it, and some progressive Kuwaiti mullahs actually pray nightly in the direction of his scalp.
Thanks, everyone, for following along and keeping the comments sweet, sultry, and sassy.
Perez is now in his second inning, with Melky Cabrera stepping up to bat. He flies out to Gutierrez. Which reminds me, the insects seem to be less aggravating in the extra innings. Even they were finally informed THERE'S ONLY ONE ... OC-TOHHHH-BRRR! The burly, surly Shelley Duncan is now batting in lieu of Mientkiewicz. He's not too fast, and I know that only because Peralta threw him out on a grounder to him. Damon just can't check his swing, and Perez chips in with two solid innings in extras.
The Angels and Red Sox are playing on TNT. Feel free to turn to that game, Massachusetts, if you hate singing, laughing children. Oh, and the Associated Press has already released a story on the insects that descended on Jacobs Field. Savor the bug humor now, Deadspinions, because when metro newspaper headline writers get in on the fun, the innovation of the schtick is officially finished.
Rivera's still pitching, and Sizemore comes up. All right, I know exactly what Bob Brenly meant when he said that Rivera's cut-fastball has that "boring action," but ... sheesh, Bob. Just ... well, I liked your managerial tactics in the 2001 World Series. That's all I'll say. Sizemore fouls it off, and ... no, he missed it completely! He's running to first, and Posada's throw to Mientkiewicz, and since the first baseman isn't Manute Bol, it goes over his head and Sizemore's on base. Again.
Wild guess here, folks, but he won't score this inning.
Cabrera lays down a sac bunt, and the Indians have a runner on second with just one out. Hafner visualizes his minor league manager chewing into a boar's leg, and he pulls the ball to the right side of the infield, advancing Sizemore to third base. They're just givin' first base to Martinez. Rivera wants Garko, if ya know what I mean. And I mean, he wants to pitch to Ryan Garko instead of Victor Martinez. That's what I meant, clearly. And he ... wow, that ball hit him. He didn't even budge. Rivera doesn't like the fact that he didn't try to get out of the way. Now, if it were me batting? I'd have gotten out of the way if the ball came within a three-foot radius of my body. Guess that was my problem playing baseball growing up.
But Rivera strikes out Peralta, and that's what you call leaving 'em loaded. I'm shocked — SHOCKED — that the Indians left runners on base.
So Fausto Carmona ends with the best damn no-decision we've seen in the postseason. He allowed just six baserunners and struck out five. If anyone outside of Elias kept track of "groundouts to the pitcher," Carmona might have set a postseason record. But enough about him. He's in the past. Rafael Perez is your new pitcher. He forces Matsui to pop out near the pitcher's mound, and Blake catches it. Posada gets a good swing on a pitch, but it dies in the warning track in Gutierrez's glove, and with it, all his hopes and dreams. Cano also pops to short, and something tells me this livebloggery will last a while. Unless ... wait, Kyle Farnsworth is in the Yankees' bullpen, right? Good.
And here comes Mariano Rivera. So, extra innings then. Kenny Lofton flies to center, which is odd because some flies were already in center. I hope Melky wasn't confused. Gutierrez can't touch Rivera's pitches either, and Blake puts another ball into center field for Melky to catch. Yep. More baseball.
As Kenny Lofton calls for the clubhouse eyewash boy, Craig Sager unravels the mystery of the bug invasion. It's warm, and Cleveland is near a big lake. I had no idea!
Damon would have fit in with this swamp-like territory had he still possessed his Bostonian beard. But instead, with his metrosexual look, he harmlessly grounds out. Jeter has no luck either against Carmona, who then turns around and violently shakes off seven ticks from his nape. Abreu grounds to shortstop, but Peralta lollygags a little on the catch-throw and Abreu beats it out for an infield single.
The crowd is starting to get into it. You can hear them chanting during Carmona as he faces Alex Rodriguez: "Bzzzt bzzt bzzt-bzzt! [clap clap clapclapclap] Bzzzt bzzt bzzt-bzzt! [clap clap clapclapclap]" Which means it's time for a ...
Fun, Fallible Fact About: ALEX RODRIGUEZ! Growing up, when his parents moved to a new town, Rodriguez got a paper route during the summer. The neighborhood never quite warmed up to him, especially one day in 1985, when Rodriguez crashed his bike into a breakdancer, a remote control car, a construction worker, a stray tire, the Grim Reaper, a lady with a rolling pin, a doghouse, and a tornado. The neighborhood also gave him shit because, after his route was over, he could never complete the obstacle course.
Abreu steals second on the 1-2 pitch to A-Rod. That guy has flat-out earned his two bases with hustle and grit. Evidently TBS has not yet developed the technology for a second base leadoff graphic. Rodriguez is fouling off pitch after pitch. He's still in there. Jesus. And there's Carmona's sinker, which gets by A-Rod for the third out. But, again, you can't blame him. Yankees fans will predictably blow this two-out-with-RISP strikeout in the ninth way out of proportion.
Chamberlain is still in the game, and the flies are starting to gather in swarms. Hey, you'll have that when the concession stands sell Pig Head On A Stick.
Happenings begin with a walk to Sizemore. UNNECESSARY ZOOM ON CHAMBERLAIN'S NECK! WHOAAAA! The ball ricochets off 15 gnats, then Posada's mitt, then a nightcrawler, and Sizemore takes second. As Cabrera bunteth, Sizemore moves up 90 feet. Chamberlain is now adorning a beard of bees. I guess we know who's been eating Honey Nut Cheerios between innings. Hafner sends a line drive right, I mean RIGHT, at Malphabet at first base. That's two outs.
Martinez needs a base hit to tie this.... just kidding. Chamberlain's second wild pitch of the game allows Sizemore to score. hey, know what other phenom once caught the wild pitch bug in the postseason and never recovered? And Martinez gets dinged in the shin with by a pitch. In all fairness, I too would be distracted if cockteasing ladybugs started whispering sweet nothings into both of my ears.
Chamberlain's pitches keep zinging off gypsy moths and out of the strike zone, and Garko earns himself a walk. The Yankees clearly don't want Chamberlain in there anymore, but they had nobody ready to send to the mound. Luis Vizcaino begins to warm up. The insects are still furiously looking for Homer's pile of sugar.
Chamberlain finally learns how to throw through moving antennae and rings up Peralta. Jesus Citronella Christ, that was a hell of a half-inning.
Carmona outlasts Pettitte, as if that means anything. He's still going strong. Cano grounds back to the pitcher, then Melkhior does almost the same exact thing. Mientkeiwicz calls time at the plate to ... apparently pull a flea out from underneath his helmet. He grounds to second. The Yankees only have two hits tonight, and seven for the series. Puzzling.
Garko falls behind 0-2, then pops out to Mientkiewicz, who just barely had enough room in foul territory for that ball TBS displays the game summary to the tune of the theme from "Major League." Note to self: find that song on iTunes, if possible. Ten-Finger Jhonny blasts a ball to center, and it hits the corner of that left-center field wall. That's a double, but was frighteningly close to tying this thing up. The vintage 1995 edition of Kenny Lofton steps up. He walks on four straight, and Joba Chamberlain, we're told, is murmuring in the bullpen. I guess that's Pettitte's last batter of the night, and here comes Chamberlain. I can only think of one logical action here. That's right it's a ...
Fun, Fallible Fact About: JOBA CHAMBERLAIN! Born in 1985, this year's Joel Zumaya is actually reincarnation of the singing career of the Indonesian one-hit wonder Taco Ockerse.
He faces Gutierrez, and promptly strikes him out. He ends the threat as Blake flies out to right. This Chamberlain kid ... I think you'll hear about him someday.
Seventh Inning Stretch Video Of A Little Kid Getting Hurt
The pitching competition continues. Abreu hits a ball to second, but Asdrubal Cabrera as drubal getting the handle on that one, and Abreu is safe at first. And look who's up. It's that one guy. Alex Somethingorother. He strikes out. He's 0-for-ALCS thus far. The Tribe can't turn two on that ground ball courtesy of Matsui. Draining the knee must've jettisoned the excess weight. Posada smashes a line drive to center, but Sizemore leaps toward the falling ball and catches it. Very pretty catch. In no way is Sizemore uncomfortable being called pretty.
Sizemore no longer has the burden of stranding a runner if he doesn't get a hit, but ... oh hell, there he goes. A triple into the corner. That would have scored Lofton. Cabrera slaps the ball back to the pitcher, and Sizemore can't advance on that. One out, and with the next batter, that brings up another...
Fun, Fallible Fact About: TRAVIS HAFNER! Coming up through the minor leagues, Hafner knew little English. This is not uncommon — many Latin American baseball players did not know English well. But as a North Dakotan, Hafner was different. He knew no verbal language whatsoever. So in his 1998 season with the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats, manager Paul Carey devised a specialized set of signals just for Hafner when he stepped to the plate. If he bit into a boar's leg, it meant "pull the ball to right field." When he bit into a deer heart, it meant, "pull the ball to right-center field," When he bit into an ostrich thigh, it meant "just try to make contact." As you can guess, Savannah did not have a lot of ostriches.
TBS flashes a clutchy stat: The Indians were 5-for-8 last night with RISP, and tonight they're 1-for-8. Er, 1-for-9. Hafner swings and misses on strike three. What's our vector, Victor? Make that 1-for-10, as Sizemore's triple dies in vain in the box score with Martinez's strikeout.
Mientkeiwicz starts us off with a ground ball to Garko, prompting a slow, Caucasian race to first. Garko wins. Damon can only muster a nubbly little grounder back to Carmona. Yes, I said nubbly. I'm making up words and I'm not even drugged. Although I did eat Thai food yesterday.
As Jeter grounds out to Peralta, the inning ends, and — oh, the jocularity! — a squirrel is somewhere on the field and picks up a peanut. Will he escape the clutches of the security guard! Find out in our next episode, "Rocky Relief Appearance!" Or, "Take Me Out Of The Ballgame!"
So, Kenny Lofton's just gonna keep doing this, isn't he? His ground ball goes right by Mientkiewicz' glove into right field for his second hit of the game. He's 5-for-6 in the series. Pettitte continues to try and pick Lofton off, because "the batter can also be fooled." What are they saying? Pettitte is hoping Michaels will swing at a pickoff attempt? Michaels isn't fooled at all and bunts Lofton over.
I love it when fans boo the opposing pitcher for fake, or even attempted, pickoff throws. "How dare you try to hold the runner! The nerve of you denying our runner the chance to have a 15-foot lead!" He's eyeing Lofton behind him at second. Maybe he'll send him a note during study hall. No, Casey Blake, you can't move him over with that fly ball to left.
Brenly remarks that Rodriguez is playing far off third base because "Sizemore is looking for something he can jerk." I see. Well, he doesn't get a chance to score Lofton, or even leave him stranded, because Lofton takes off for third prematurely and gets tagged out.
I've got a snazzy feeling that this game is already better than last night's game, even though the score is 1-0. Looks like I finally know what it feels like to enjoy a soccer game.
Posada — I tell ya, this guy over the last decade has been the Yankees' most underrated ... whoops, TBS already covered this a couple innings ago — draws a walk. "Sometimes the best time to hit and run is with a slow player," Brenly and/or Tony Gwynn remark. Well, that would have broken up the double play that Cano just hit into. And Cabrera grounds to Cabrera. Try to guess which one is which.
Monopoly is back at McDonald's! Which is amazing, because Monopoly returns to McDonald's only as often as Roger Clemens comes out of retirement.
Oxymoronic leadoff hitter Travis Hafner gets on base with a line drive to center. Victor Martinez needs a good nickname. If his was like everyone else, it'd probably be "V-Mart," which just sounds like a great name for a wholesale sex toy shop. So that won't be it. He grounds up the middle, which catches Pettitte's mitt and trickes to Cano. Hafner stops, and rather than running him down, Cano throws to first and gets the "easy out." The camera pans the crowd and catches part of what looked like a Ryan Garko sign, done in the spirit of the Geico gecko. ABC now wants to make a Ryan Garko sit-com, even after his ground ball to short that doesn't advance Hafner in any way.
Peralta can't find Pettitte's 3-2 pitch anywhere. Did he look behind the couch?
Jeter begins the inning with a single to center, but I can't imagine anyone will read too much into it. Abreu zings a ground ball to Garko at first base, who handles it and Jeter advances. Rodriguez is batting now, and can you just imagine the depth of clutchiness in the air if A-Rod were to bat in Jeter right now? It'd be beyond anything. But Rodriguez strikes out on that sinker. To be fair, it wasn't his fault. Oh, Christ, Chip Caray was practically saying what I just said there, only he was serious. "They haven't seen a lot of Carmona." Really? He's the only pitcher in the league who throws a sinkerball?
Matsui hits a chopper to Garko, and can't beat the first baseman to first. Try draining the other knee.
And here comes Jason Michaels. And you know that what means? Why yes, it's time for another...
Fun, Fallible Fact About: JASON MICHAELS! Most Cleveland fans know him as the guy acquired during the Coco Crisp Giveaway. First, he was traded to the Phillies straight up for Arthur Rhodes, then came the blockbuster Crisp trade. But before he was an outfielder for the Indians or Phillies, he was the lead singer for 80s hair band Poison.
Michaels doubles past his rightfieldian counterpart Abreu for a double. Casey "Torgo" Blake grounds out and advances Michaels to third. Master will be moderately impressed. Sizemore has a great RBI chance here, but ... well, that didn't do it. He grounds to Mientkiewicz, who cunningly runs toward Sizemore and tags him out, checking Michaels back to third. If you're not listening closely, Bob Brenly speaking can sound a like lot John Kruk. And Pettitte freezes Asdrubal Cabrera for strike three.
Robinson Cano's grounder nearly clotheslines Cabrera at second, if you can imagine the ball being a line of horizontal dental floss, but he handles it and throws out Cano. And then the wise man known as Melkhior drills a solo home run to right. And because I'm a man who has his finger on the pulse, I'm just finding out now about Doug Mientkiewicz running into a photographer yesterday. He flies out to center. (Mientkiewicz. Not the photographer — he's more of a pull hitter.) Damon rounds out the inning with a cute widdle grounder back to that guy who threw it at him in the first place. Circle of life.
Victor Martinez. Yes, he's going to be a great offensive catcher throughout his career. Fitting that they used the future tense, because Martinez just fouled out about 10 feet away from home plate. Queen Latifah is at the game, but while she likes Cleveland and is a Yankees fan, she's wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. So ... she's rooting for breast cancer? Thanks, Queen Latifah. You made me miss however Ryan Garko made an out. I think he grounded out. Peralta takes ball four, breaking up Pettitte's no-walker. As Kenny Lofton advances to the plate, five posterboards in succession read: "SORRY LEBRON, KENNY IS KING" In the entire history of monarchies, has there ever been a presiding king that went by Kenny? Absolutely not. Doubtful also for emperors, but perhaps pharaoh who just didn't give a shit anymore.
Czar Kenny swings and fouls a pitch ashis bat slipped in the direction of Pettitte on the mound. Yes ... "slipped." And now Jhonny Peralta steals second. When you use Mario Kart arrows, bases are easy to steal for anyone. Lofton singles to center, but
Melky Cabrera's laser-rocket-beam-missile throw beats Peralta to the plate. You might recall Lofton's single with RISP yesterday in the first inning also resulted in Peralta being tagged out. You might not. I don't know you that well, to be honest.
Right away, Alex Rodriguez pops to second. So in retrospect, TBS, did he really deserve his own brief video montage just then? Chip Caray discusses Hideki Matsui's drained knee. That kind of stuff always gives me the creeps. And he draws a walk. (Matsui. Not Caray. Chip Caray swings at everything.) Matsui stands proudly on the graphic of the leadoff distance arrows, which remind me of Super Mario Kart. If Matsui is left stranded on base, might I suggest placing a fake item box between first and second? That'll teach some unsuspecting Cleveland Indian to stretch the inevitable single into a double.
Posada grounds into a double play. In my mind, Carmona's still got the perfect game going on, but outside of my own reality he just has a PSYCH-PSYCHER through two innings.
I've got this feeling that Andy Pettitte might just throw a perfect game tod... oops, jinx. Grady Sizemore singles to center. But wait! Asdrubal Cabrera grounds into a double play, and Pettitte follows that up by striking out Travis Hafner looking. So how come that's technically not a "perfect inning?" Three batters came to the plate and they were all called out at some point in the inning. Ya know, I'm just gonna go with it. Pettitte is perfect through one.
With the sun running away from Cleveland, the outfield is segregated between light and dark. That means the horizon line is actually the River Styx. Johnny Damon flies out harmlessly to left field. Derek Jeter does worse by striking out on Carmona's patented sinkyball. (Patent pending.) Bobby Abreu completes the obedience trifecta with a tee-ball grounder back to Carmona.
So, here's to hoping this game doesn't get decided in the fifth inning. A New York win, a Cleveland win — just PLEASE let the decisive blow be struck in the eighth or ninth inning.
Cleveland's the favorite here, and it seems like everyone's going up 2-0 in series these days. Although the Yankees aren't a team who traditionally loses in the playoffs. In fact, to find their last divisional series loss, you have to go back all the way to last year. And before that, 2005. So, first round exits are few and far between.
Maybe they should have just politely declined the wild card after all.