After four and a half innings everything seemed very much in doubt. Tim Wakefield's knuckleball was knuckling beautifully, confusing and frustrating Indians hitters left and right. The Indians had notched only two walks and one hit, a solid double off the wall in left field by Jhonny Peralta, and looked as if they were in serious trouble.
The Red Sox had managed four hits and had gotten a runner to second base in two of the five innings. Paul Byrd was Paul Byrd. Giving up some hits while walking no one and working out of trouble. The were a lot of loud outs, but they were outs nonetheless. But you had to think that the Red Sox were in prime position to explode at any moment... until the Indians beat them to it.
A 7 run Bottom of the 5th rocked the Red Sox as every twist and turn fell to the Indians advantage. Casey Blake led of with a monster jack over the wall in left field that seemed to wake up the Tribe. Frankie Gutierrez singled to left on a ball at his eye level and Kelly Shoppach got plunked by a 60 MPH knuckler.
Then everything went the Indians way. Grady Sizemore sent a slow dribbler to second that forced Shoppach at second but advanced Frankie to third while Sizemore took first. The As-Man lifted a ball down the first baseline that Kevin Youklis bobbled 6 times before dropping and you could sense that something was about to happen. Cabrera then sent a liner back at Wakefield that spun out of his glove and deadened in between second base and the pitchers mound. A would be DP that turned into a RBI infield single. Victor Martinez followed with an RBI single through the left side which ended the night for Tim Wakefield.
Peralta rudely greeted Manny Delcarmen with a no doubt 3 run HR to right to make it 6-0 and send The Jake into a frenzy. Kenny Lofton then singled, stole second and scored on Casey Blake's bloop single to center that Coco Crisp barely missed catching on a dive. After it was all over the score read 7-0 Cleveland.
After more than 30 minuted in the dugout Byrd came out rusty and gave up 2 no doubt solo homeruns to Kevin Youklis and David Ortiz before giving way to Jensen Lewis. He may no be pretty but Paul Byrd wins plain and simple. There are no style points for pitchers, just wins. Manny Ramirez greeted Jensen Lewis with a monster HR to deep center that he stood and watch for a good 5 - 10 seconds as if he just won the game. Problem was, it only made the game 7 - 3. All that Jensen Lewis did after that was follow it with 2 scoreless innings of work which Raffy Betancourt followed up with retiring 6 straight to end the game. Final score Cleveland 7, Boston 3.
In what seems to be the theme to the series so far the Indians keep beating the Red Sox to the punch and keep shaking off the Red Sox' retaliation. Scoring 7 runs to establish control of the game and just when the Sox think they are back in it with back to back to back homeruns the bullpen comes in, completely shut them down and give them no hope.
So now the Indians are up 3-1 in the ALCS. One win to go. All the Media is going to say is that the Red Sox were down 3-1 to the Angles in the 1986 ALCS and came back to win the series. And they were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and won the series. But there is one difference, the Red Sox were a better team than their opponents. In the 2007 ALCS that is not the case. Yes, they have Josh Beckett going in Game 5. Yes, if they win Game 5 they have the next 2 games in Boston. Yes, Boston has a $200M payroll. But none of it matters.
The Indians have the Red Sox down. Their confidence is up. They know they can take the best shot the Red Sox have and attack right back. More importantly, they know they are the better team. Whether they win Thursday night or not, they have their foot on the Red Sox' neck and the smell blood in the water. And if the Indians have proved anything in 2007 it's that when the smell blood, they go in for the kill.
It's Tribe Time now.