Monday, October 8, 2007

ALDS Game 4 Thoughts

Despite the fact the Indians dropped Game 3 of the ALDS last night they still hold a 2-1 lead over the New York Yankees in their Best of 5 match-up. I don't think anyone was expecting a sweep so the Indians still hold the upper hand in the match-up. There are a couple of keys they need to take advantage of in they want to eliminate the Yankees tonight and advance to their first ALCS since 1998.

Paul Byrd goes for the Tribe tonight against Chien-Ming Wang, who is starting on 3 days rest. Byrd in a fly ball pitcher who relies on on pinpoint control and deception to get hitters out. The Yankees are a predominantly left handed, power hitting club that take a lot of pitches and feast on mistakes. It is not a good match-up on paper. However, Byrd has shown the guts and mental toughness to work in difficult situations. He needs to work the corners of the strike zone as always but can not give into hitters. He may have a low walk ratio but a walk to the Yankees here and there are not bad. Walks are not good but they are better than a hanging change up.

That being said, if Byrd struggles, Uncle Eric will need to take a page out of Joe Torre's book and go to the bullpen early. Look at the wonders a couple innings from Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain did for the Yankees in Game 3. In keep the Indian hitter off balance and kept the score close to allow the Yankees to come back and eventually win. Rafael Perez and Rafael Betancourt have a couple days rest so they could go 2+ innings if needed. Jensen Lewis threw an inning last night but still could throw another 1 of 2 tonight. Aaron Laffey is a viable option if Byrd struggles early. These factors with a day off tomorrow give the Indians options and an advantage if needed.

As far as the offense goes, they need to take the same approach against Wang that they did in Game 1. Make him pitch. Work the count. Don't give into his breaking pitches. Yes, he is a much better pitcher at home, but he is going on 3 days rest. And the configuration of Yankee Stadium that is an advantage to the Yankees predominantly left handed line up can be used to the same advantage for the Indians predominantly left handed line up. But, and its a huge but, some one has to step up. Lofton did in game 1 and Grady and Pronk did in Game 2. Someone had to "be the guy" in Game 4. The Tribe kept fighting in the Game 3 loss and they must continue to do so in Game 4 to send the Yankees home for the fall tonight.

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