October 04, 2007
Observations from the first game of the Cleveland-New York series at Jacobs Field, a 12-3 Indians victory:
• Someone must have switched the uniforms, or the bats, or the odd offensive accoutrements, because the Indians hitters looked an awful lot like the Yankees' supposed juggernaut.
This was an old-fashioned beatdown, the Indians jumping on Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang early, hammering high sinkers, keeping the pressure on, grinding, swinging, relentless. They kept going against poor Ross Ohlendorf and poured on another run against Phil Hughes.
Want a veteran left fielder? Forget Johnny Damon. Kenny Lofton drove in four runs, all with two outs. Need a young, slugging second baseman? Robinson who? How about Asdrubal Cabrera, who plastered a Wang sinker into the right-field bleachers. Best hitting catcher around? Jorge Posada is great. Victor Martinez – like Posada a powerful switch-hitter – was better Thursday, with a double and home run.
In all, the Indians finished with 14 hits – eight for extra bases, four home runs and eight runs scored with two outs.
The mighty Yankees? Three runs on five hits. And a sad slink back to the clubhouse before a long night to think about what happened.
• Actually, what happened, in theory, wasn't all that bad. The Yankees worked Indians starter C.C. Sabathia, drawing six walks and forcing him out after the fifth inning and 114 pitches.
New York quickly learned about Dos Rafaels – Perez and Betancourt – who combined for five strikeouts over three shutout innings. With Jensen Lewis bridging the two with a scoreless inning, the Indians' bullpen locked down the Yankees.
• Speaking of relief, why did Joe Torre go to Hughes in the seventh inning instead of the fifth, when the score was 7-3? Ohlendorf's addition to the Yankees roster was somewhat of a surprise. To put him in such a high-leverage situation having pitched just 6 1/3 major-league innings seemed hasty.
Wang left having yielded seven runs, and Ohlendorf followed by allowing his inherited runner to score as well as three more.
Then again, while Hughes looked good – he has incredible command of a 94-mph fastball – he threw one too many. There is no reason to throw an 0-2 fastball on the outside corner, particularly when it has some run to it. The ball crept back over the plate and got smacked opposite field by Ryan Garko for Cleveland's final run.
• A-Rod: 0-for-2, and now 3 for his last 37 in the postseason.
• The perfect synopsis of the difference between the Yankees and Indians: New York's scheduled starters for Games 2-4 are a combined 118 years old. Cleveland's, even including 36-year-old Paul Byrd, are 89.