Breathe. One in the bag, two more to go.
I didn’t want to think about it – they were massively over matched up and down the line-up all the pundits said.
I didn’t want to write about it – I’d probably jinx any chance they might have and I sure as hell didn’t want that happening.
Somewhere, deep down inside, I nurtured a small hope that everyone would be wrong and the so-called impossible would come to pass.
And then something funny happened on the way to the World Series. Those spunky Wahoos from Cleveland beat the fabled New York Yankees juggernaut, on their most hallowed of home turf, 6-4 and taking the series three games to one.
For days leading up to the start of the Cleveland-New York League Divisional Series, I’d heard it all. “This team can’t win, there’s just no way this Cleveland team beats a Yankees team who has the best players money can buy!” went the refrain. “The Yankees have been built to win championships and they’ll do it again!” and so it went, ad infitium, ad nauseum!
And yet, the Indians put straight 15-plus game winners on the mound who kept the vaunted Yankees offense swinging at ghosts, batting a paltry .193 for the series. Meanwhile, the Indians managed to hit, nearly at will, racking up a team average of .302 against a slew of future Hall of Fame pitchers.
Hometown hero Grady Sizemore got the game rolling with a first inning home-run on the third pitch of the game and the Indians didn’t look back from there. Sizemore hit into a double play in the second but it wasn’t so bad considering Franklin Gutierrez came home and Casey Blake moved to third. Later that inning, Asdrubal Cabrera knocked Blake home with a single to center, tacking four runs on the Yanks.
Pitcher Paul Byrd wasn’t exactly “lights-out” but did his part holding the Pin-stripers to two runs before being relieved in the bottom of the sixth by Rafael Perez. Perez turned around and gave up a solo-homer to shoe-in for MVP, Alex Rodriguez. The lead was cut to 6-3.
Nothing to worry about, the Tribe was still fully in control. Rafael Betancourt came into the eighth and mowed ‘em down 1-2-3. Three outs away.
Then the ninth came and who takes the mound but none other then Joe “Cardiac Arrest” Borowski. When’s the last time you saw a guy lead the league in saves (45) with a 5.07 ERA?!
And wouldn’t you know it, the jet-fuel in the Yankees high octane offense is coming to bat. Jeter pops out to second brining Bobby Abreu to the plate who of course turns on one and takes Borowski deep.
Grab the Rolaids, Cuyahoga faithful, it just got nerve racking. The Tribe lead was only 6-4.
Borowski kept it interesting with some deep shots that just curved foul. But Rodriguez flied out to right and Jorge Posada went down on strikes. And just like that, poof! The smoke and mirrors that was collection of high priced guns went up in smoke. The Tribe is headed to Boston for a showdown of the two teams with the best record in baseball!
“Hey Cleveland, you just beat the New York Yankees for the Division League Series, what are you going to do now?”
“We got business in Boston, see you Friday night!”