Indians lead series 2-1
Jake Westbrook .221
Kenny Lofton .181
Rafael Betancourt .078
Joe Borowski .078
Jhonny Peralta -.053
Victor Martinez -.043
Trot Nixon -.026
This game was nothing like Sunday's marathon: it was a taut well-pitched game. Well, the outcome was the same.
Jake Westbrook brought sanity back to the starting staff, throwing 6.2 innings. If you didn't know any better, he pitched an average Jake Westbrook start, getting a couple of key double plays, keeping the pitch count down, and leaving the bullpen with a short night. Of course, he did this against the Boston Red Sox, the team that solved the Indians' other sinkerballer last night by waiting for a first-pitch strike. Jake was able to throw quality strikes early in the count, dictating the terms of the at-bat.
The big offensive blow came on Kenny Lofton's two-run homer in the second. From my vantage point, I initially couldn't make out whether the ball had cleared the right field fence, or even if JD Drew had made the catch. But it did, and a crowd who cheered the loudest for Lofton during introductions erupted as he rounded the bases. After Kenny and Victor performed an elaborate celebratory handshake (or is "bodyshake" a more appropriate term?), he bounded out of the dugout and doffed his helmet to the fans.
The Indians' bullpen was great, retiring all seven batters they faced. Rafael Betancourt especially deserves a lot of credit, retiring Youkilis, Ortiz, and Ramirez in order in the eighth. Yeah, Joe Borowski got the save, but just awarding Betancourt a hold doesn't seen appropriate.
This was my first time at a Jacobs Field playoff game, and it was different that any regular season contest. The fans didn't need much coaxing from the digital cheerleaders; they were on their feet early and often, whether it was with two strikes on a Boston player, or runners on in the bottom of an inning. When Borowski came on in the ninth, the mood was anticipatory but hesitant. Everyone was on their feet, hoping for an easy inning, but knowing that just one base runner brings the tying run to the plate. And in case you didn't notice, Borowski allows a lot of base runners. But, other than a long battle with Jason Varitek, he retired the Boston hitters rather easily. And with that, a happy stadium-full of Indians fans poured out of Jacobs Field, and blared their horns on their way out of downtown Cleveland.
Next Up: Wakefield* vs. Byrd, 8:21 PM.
*Subject to change