The Phillies-Rockies series is half (or more) over, and the Yankees still haven't played. If they hadn't lost their spot as MLB's Prime Time Team to the Red Sox, we'd be waiting even longer. But here they are, facing an Indians team that's been underrated all season. It's C.C. Sabathia for the Indians and Chien-Ming Wang for the Yankees. And your live blogger is the great Matt Sussman. Enjoy his comedic stylings after the jump.
Hopefully this game doesn't last much longer... well, forget that dream. Here comes Rafael Betancourt. Although he did ring up Cano on three pitches. Pray to god Melky doesn't foul pitches off in a full count.
Ya know what? This thing's almost over, and I had a blast until the game became a blowout, so let's end on a high note by sharing ... One! More!
Fun, Fallible Fact About: RAFAEL BETANCOURT! It's no secret he takes his sweet time between pitches. But why? Well, after he accepts the sign from the catcher, Betancourt will often engage in a staring contest with the radar gun.
Chip Caray's euphemism for Betancourt: he's "deliberate." Yeah. Deliberately dragging it on. And just as I feared, this at-bat is taking forever. Joba Chamberlain is already eligible for Medicaid. And FINALLY, a foul ball stays in play for Lofton to catch it. One more out.
Jeremy Giambi's lesser known brother Jason pinch hits for Shelley Duncan. And he hits right through the shift. He apologized profusely for "that single." Another excruciatingly long at-bat, this time by Johnny Damon ends with a lineout to center field.
Well, I'll say this. The first half of the game was amazing. Thanks for playing along, comrades.
Hughes is still throwin' bullets out there, and Hafner flies out to deep center. A triple short of the cycle, the announcing team debate how a Victor Martinez ball could carom off the wall in order for the slow-footed catcher to collect the first ever postseason triple. Yep, you'd have to hit it into a Rube Goldberg machine to keep it away from the outfielders long enough. But forget that silly hypothetical: he flies out to left. As the Cubs-Diamondbacks game starts up in a distant universe, Ryan Garko become the jillionth Indian to hit a solo home run to right field. With 12 runs tonight, the baseball universe will certainly equalize the Indians tomorrow with — let's see, Andy Pettitte's pitching, so — only 8 runs. And Peralta almost gives them their 13th run, but he was a few fathoms short.
And Jensen Lewis shows up to the pitching party, and he gets Alex Rodriguez to "pflyout" to second. With the next batter brings us one more...
Fun, Fallible Fact About: JORGE POSADA! You may remember when Posada disabled a FOX "Diamond Cam" embedded in front of home plate in the 2004 ALCS. Posada felt the camera was pervasive and could get in the way of the game. Posada's uncle, former A's outfielder Leo Posada, felt the same way about cameras and regulary took the same proactive actions, which is why his colonoscopy went so poorly.
He flies out to left. Then Lewis strikes out Matsui for the third out, much to the speechlessness of the TBS announcing team. Although I wouldn't rule out that they're napping underneath the desk.
Phil Hughes is the next sacrificial lamb, and when he tells his grandkids about his first postseason major league game, he can tell them how he struck out Casey Blake. His grandchildren will be unimpressed. He then gets Sizemore and Cabrera out, and I can't remember the last time the Yanks pitched a 1-2-3 inning — it's entirely possible there were none until now — but I'm with the two-headed analyst monster I call "Gwynly." Phil Hughes is officially broken into the postseason. That might play a factor in a future game.
And Now For A Brief Seventh Inning Stretch Video Of An Elephant Burping In A Kid's Face:
Even with an eight-run cushion, Perez isn't budging. Damon strikes out, and Jeter finally gets a good swing on a pitch, but Gutierrez slides for the catch. Then Perez freezes Abreu on a curveball. Froemming's arm mechanic was about 20 percent Enrico Pallazzo just then.
Wow. Jeter, Rodriguez, and Posada are a combined 0-for-7, but then again any aggregate average can look bad when you cherry pick out of a lineup. Nobody will say that Damon, Abreu, Cano, and Duncan are a combined 4-for-9. How I pity them.
TBS is really giving it to LeBron James for wearing a Yankees hat. I can't believe a homegrown superstar is rooting for a team far, far away from him! Has he no local pride! [adjusts Diamondbacks hat]
Ross Ohlendorfersteinerlington is still in there, who retires Asdrubal Cabrera on a groundout. Hafner gets ahold of a pitch, and it sails into the gap ... check that, it's over the wall. One point for Cleveland. Martinez doubles to left, and this young pitcher is 95 percent crestfallen.
Chip Caray: "Is that something that's overrated? Postseason experience?" That sure was a nice thing to ask the championship-free Tony Gwynn.
Peralta gronds out to Jeter in one of the most half-assed forceouts I've ever seen go between Jeter and Rodriguez. I know the lead's big, but do you guys still care? Lofton still cares. He brings in yet another run with a double to right-center. What a night for Lofton! And in the next commercial, we're told rumors that he was traded somewhere. Looks like Mark Shapiro is already rebuilding for 2013.
Torre replaces Ohlendorfersteinerlingtonski, which is good, because you and I both were getting sick of me appending that name. Welcome to the mound, Jose Veras. He induces (do the kids still use that word? "induces?") Gutierrez into a popfoulflyout. No more runs this inning.
I'm all for Sonic, but that meat/bacon/cheeseonion thing in a bun? It looks like they invented a new menu item by scraping whatever's left in the fryer. Stick to burgers and tots, Sonic. Better yet, but a goddamn location within two hours of Toledo.
I didn't think Sabathia wouldn't make it to the seventh, but with a six-run lead, it makes perfect sense to let him watch The Office on DVR in the clubhouse. Rafael Perez is now pitching to Cano.
I was trying to find out what Melky is short for, but it turns out that his full first name. This is just like the time in seventh grade when my friend Val told me that his name wasn't short for anything. The shit it's not. It's only three letters. Is it Valerie? You can be honest, I won't make fun of you. Okay, I will, but still. Lord Melkington strikes out, then Shelley Duncan — how the hell does a midseason callup get such a low number like 17? — follows suit, whiffing at a ball off the plate.
So I glance at the clock and realize that there's a new hour-long episode of The Office on right now. I was wondering why you all were so silent. Aw, c'mon back! 45 minutes in, you already have your quote for the "About Last Night" thread tomorrow morning.
Asdrubal Cabrera, I assume, is TiVoing The Office tonight, which he briefly thought of as he drew that walk just then. Hafner's swing kills the bat, as well as his chances of reaching base, as the ball lands in Melky Cabrera's mitt.
Oh, the timingness of it all! As Craig Sager interviews the fan who beats the drum in the top row of Jacobs Field, Martinez smashes a two-run homer to right field. Little kids in the greater Cleveland area are giddy, and Gary Glitter blares through the loudspeaker. These two events are not related.
Garko grounds out. Ho hum.
Turns out the guy who beats the drum is a computer guy for AT&T. He serves as a shining beacon among those in the information technology industry. With a little hard work and a lot of free time on nights and weekends, you too can have 15 seconds of fame!
I think Peralta just doubled or something. I should watch more and write less.
So, an update on my passing remark about the supposed age similarity between Kenny Lofton and Eric Wedge. Lofton is actually eight months older than Wedge. There you have it. Lofton singles back up the middle, a lot like his first-inning RBI hit, only this time Jhon scores rather than gets tagged in a rundown. It's now 7-3, and with that — wow, I can't believe I kept away from Chien-Ming dick jokes until now — Joe Torre appears to be pulling Wang.
So Ross Ohlendorf is your Yankees pitcher. I have zero pre-fabricated Ross Ohlendorf jokes. I can tell by the look in your eyes that you're disappointed in me. And Lofton steals second. Eventually, someone will let Bob Brenly know that the pitcher's name is not Ross Ohlendorfer. I guess when you have an unusual long name to say, one more generic suffix won't hurt. And Ohlendorferstein walks Franklin Gutierrez. And this game is just getting outta hand. Torgo laces a double in the right field corner, scoring Lofton and Gutierrez. Ohlendorfersteinerling looks rattled out there.
Sizemore hits a fly ball between three fielders, but Melky catches up to it and ends the ballistic fifth.
And heeere's Shelley, pinch-hitting for Mientkiewicz. Thank God. I'm fucking sick of typing that last name. Can you feel it? There's this 26.9 percent feeling in the air that the Indians' lead will be halved after this at-bat. Instead, the 73.1 percent feeling of logic kicks in, and Duncan cracks a long single to the opposite field. Damon takes some really, really close pitches, and bumps Duncan up to second on the walk.
Sabathia's pitch count is in the low-to-mid-90s, with a slight chance of thunderstorms rolling in late in the evening. Visibility: 5 miles.
Seeing that C.C.'s frosting mantra was slipping, the pitching coach comes back out for a powwow. Jeter flies out to right, but Duncan can't advance. But who needs to advance the runner? Abreu's double down the left-field line brings the huffin' and puffin' Duncan home. Fearing that 0-1 average in the postseason thus far, the Indians grant A-Rod first base. But why do it on four pitches? Why not just throw a 50-mph fastball that bounces four or five times and hit A-Rod in the shin? It wouldn't hurt, it'd be hard to hit, and it would save us all valuable livebloggin' time.
As he struggles against Jorge Posada with the bases loaded and one out, this is as good a time any to bring you another...
Fun, Fallible Fact About: C.C. SABATHIA! He brings his own rosin bag to away games, which is filled not with rosin, but rather with Pixy Stix powder.
And with a full count, Sabathia strikes Posada out swinging. Big, big, out. Bigger still was that popup that Sabathia made Matsui hit. Yes, he made him do it. WITH HIS MIND.
Kenny Lofton was in Eric Wedge's graduating class, right? He flies out to Cano behind second base. Hey, at what distance does a popout becomes a flyout? Methinks we need a new line of paint through the outfield. Gutierrez draws a walk, and ... WHOOSH ... TBS spills a virtual graphic beneath his feet as he leads off. Evidently it's a 9-foot measuring stick. One of Tom Smykowski's greatest inventions to date!
Blake grounds down the line, but A-Rod catches it and forces out Cabrera at second. Blake is now on the ... you know, that looks like half of a Simon game. I'm still trying to figure out what to call this thing. Any takers, commenters?
Sizemore looks at strike three. Froemming's been calling a very consistent high strike.
I just had a vision of hell. Frank Caliendo and Dane Cook dining at Applebee's, as "Our Country" plays on the jukebox. [woogidy]
Posada's flyout to right makes Gutierrez work a little. A little. Matsui looks silly striking out, but not as silly as Jeter doing that Riverdance an inning prior.
The announcers are gushing over C.C. Sabathia! He's dialed in! He's rolling! He's a Cy Yo... scratch that. Robinson Cano hits a solo home run. Both the fans and announcers must now refrain 15 minutes before saying something overly complimentary about Sabathia. And Mientkiewicz pops out, but hey, they got their run.
Chip Caray says that Asdrubal Cabrera's "natural position is short." They have enhancement pills for that, I've heard. Okay, I deserved that, as Cabrera shut me up mid-dick joke with a home run to right-center. Hafner grounds out and ... well, lookit that, Craig Sager found LeBron James wearing a Yankees hat. Given what he's done so far, I don't think anyone in Cleveland will really question James's allegiances in non-basketball sports. He says he's been a Yankees fan his entire life, which will work out when he's traded to the Knicks for the 2008-09 season.
Martinez flies out, and then Garko — oh, I could pick a number of cutesy slang terms for this — bloops a single into right field. Peralta's fly ball goes farther than Garko's, enough so Abreu can catch up to it and make the catch, yet Garko's the one who gets credited with a base hit. Funny how that works.
Damon's 2-2 count from the previous inning gets reset for the top of the third, but Sabathia strikes him out anyway. I suppose that's a legitimate five-pitch strikeout. Jeter strikes out while losing balance and sort of flailing his body on the third strike, as if to say, "Everybody! Look at me! I just got schooled!" He probably didn't say that, however. Abreu gets his second walk of the night, and Rodriguez ... well, that won't get any runs in. Pop-up to Peralta. The clutchification must wait.
The announcers are sure hoping Wang, like Sabathia, settles down and this game becomes a pitching duel. Maybe I'm the only one who hopes this thing's 8-6 going into the fourth inning.
Franklin Gutierrez pops out to A-Rod. What a clutchographic catch. Casey Blake — be honest, with that beard, he's a spittin' image of Torgo from "Manos: Hands of Fate" — strikes out on four pitches. Sizemore grounds 'twixt Cano and Mientkiewicz. And for the second straight inning, Sizemore is out at second. Only this time he tried to steal against Posada. Greedy git.
Robinson Cano looks at four straight non-frosting pitches and takes first.
Meanwhile, TBS shows a replay of Wedge talking to Bruce Froemming after the Damon home run, with audio goodness. Froemming: "There was no doubt about it." I suppose there's no way to argue that.
Melky Cabrera pops out in foul territory, bringing up Doug Mientkiewicz (born in Toledo!) And that means it's time for a:
Fun, Fallible Fact About: DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ! It's no coincidence that his name is an anagram for "Ionized Wicket Gum." His great-grandfather, Adolphus Mientkiewicz, invented ionized wicket gum as an alternate method for keeping tires attached to Model-Ts.
Mientkiewicz flies out. With Damon batting, Cano tries to steal, but someone in the clubhouse must've set Cano to "Don Zimmer speed," because Martinez threw him out with plenty of time.
Wang's first pitch ... thwack, right on Grady Sizemore's toesies. Asdrubal Cabrera — wasn't he the cat from "The Smurfs?" — grounds into a double play, and all Sizemore has to show for his efforts is a hurty foot. Travis Hafner draws a 2-out walk, which is fortunate, because that's also his running speed. You'd think Victor Martinez is more of a 3-hitter, and Hafner's a 4-hitter, but here we are. Martinez lines to right for a single, and Hafner, well ... "walks" to second. Ryan Garko lines back up the middle, and Hafner — Christ, he'd go faster if someone hauled him with a forklift — scores from second. And here comes Jhonny Peralta.
Bob Brenly, discussing how both pitchers could settle down after this rocky inning: "this may be all the offense we see all night!" Did he just say the game would end 1-1. Yes, because if any former manager knows something about tie games, it's Bob Brenly. And that's when Peralta battles off 3-2 pitches en route to a walk.
Hey, look, Kenny Lofton. Did he bring Wil Cordero? Lofton singles up the middle, scoring two more, before Jhonny Cakes gets caught in a rundown between second and third. Don't worry, Brenly, there's still plenty of time to finish this game tied.
So, I promised myself I would keep the fat jokes to a minimum, but I just can't help it. Before the game, catcher Victor Martinez gave Sabathia some control advice: just pretend that the strike zone is frosting. A 3-1 pitch to Johnny Damon is CRUSHED ... deep ... deep ... foul. Foul!? Joe Torre doesn't think so, so he comes out and makes his case about the physics of time and space. Chip Caray: "the first rhubarb of the series." The first what? Now they discuss it and the umpires call it a home run. Eric Wedge comes out to complain. Logically, I assume this is the second rhubarb of the series.
Now I'm being told the Rockies/Phillies game is over. All you Chandler disciples better have moved your ass over here by now.
Derek Jeter pops out to second, but it was a clutch popout. Bobby Abreu turns a 1-2 count into a walk, and now some guy named Alex is batting. Sabathia's starting to lose his control already. No, shoulder-high isn't frosting. Shoulder-high is broccoli. Rodriguez, at one point in a 1-2 count himself, draws a walk. WHAT CLUTCHERINESS.
With C.C. already chucking 25 pitches, the coach comes out and sternly tells him about the concept of the "zone where strikes go" as Jorge Posada steps up to bat. He falls behind 2-0, then hurls three straight strikes. Mmm. delicious frosting. Matsui grounds out, and that's the inning.
Analysis of today's game: expect an alternating pattern of "Major League" quotes, followed by "The Scout" quotes.
AccuScore forecasts that Shelley Duncan has a 26.9 percent chance of hitting a home run. And here I thought the dead lady from "Lamb Chop's" was more of a contact hitter. The same baseball algorithm predicts that C.C. Sabathia's hat has a 99.8 percent chance to, for the 220th straight game, annoy the ever loving shit out of me.
But I think the series is best summed up by the infamous "featured comment" on ESPN.com's playoff series page:
"The playoffs are all about three things: (1) pitching, (2) pitching, and (3) pitching. Forget about the dominance of Sabathia and Carmona ... and look at the Indians' bullpen. No question which team has a major edge in pitching."
So, it's all about pitching, with the exception of the two best pitchers on the Indians.
Well, it's 6:25, and the Phillies/Rockies isn't over yet, so it sounds like the game's going to start being showed on TNT. In the meantime, I could liveblog this episode of "Law & Order." And I will. Hmmm, they appear to be interrogating a teenage Russian prostitute. This should be rather ... [channel cuts to MLB coverage] ... oh, hi Ernie Smith. Didn't see ya there. Could you knock next time?!
The game announcers Tony Gwynn, Bob Brenly, and Chip Caray. Hey, I know all those people.