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Cleveland Rocks: Postseason memories covering the Tribe

By Mike Harrington

CLEVELAND -- I'm at Progressive Field for tonight's American League Wild Card Game between the Indians and Rays (8:07 first pitch on TBS). First postseason game here since the Tribe failed to close out the Terry Francona-led Red Sox in Game 5 of the 2007 ALCS. In the odd circle of life, Francona is now a first-year skipper here -- trying to will his team to a win that would send it to Fenway Park and a series against the Red Sox that opens Friday.

This is the 35th postseason game the Indians have played here since the park opened in 1994. I've been amazingly fortunate to be at every one.  Here's an off-the-top of my head list of the most memorable ones. The links are to my stories 

1995 World Series Game 3 (Indians 7, Braves 6 in 11) -- I was sitting in the right field auxiliary press box and I swear that when the Indians stormed on to the field it was like watching the same scene from the playoff game on "Major League." The movie was only six years earlier and was based on the absurd concept of the Indians winning. This was life imitating reality for the first World Series game in C-Town since 1954. Reality of the job soon set in as the game went extra innings past midnight and a guy who didn't talk to the media (Eddie Murray) got the game-winning hit. Read my story here.

1995 ALDS Game 1 (Indians 6, Red Sox 5 in 13) -- There were two rain delays, Albert Belle flexing his biceps at the Boston dugout after a game-tying home run in the 11th and, finally, a walk-off shot by Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Pena on a 3-0 pitch at 2:08 a.m. Read my story here.


1997 ALDS Game 4-5 (a horse racing-style entry of wins over the Yankees) --
Game Four was the famous Sandy Alomar tying home run off Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning and the pinball single by Omar Vizquel in the ninth to win it. Game Five was a taut thriller that ended on a fly ball to Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Brian Giles in left. You could hear the car horns honking downtown for hours.

Read the Game 4 story here.     Read the Game 5 story here. 

1998 ALCS Game 4: The Indians had the 114-win Yankees in trouble with a 2-1 lead before El Duque shut them down. Orlando Hernandez, just a few months removed from escaping Cuba, pitched a 4-0 victory that evened the series and sent the Yankees on their way to a six-game winning streak that included a World Series sweep of the Padres. Read my story here. 

1999 ALCS Game 2: The Indians blasted the Red Sox, 11-1,  in a sun-splashed late-afternoon affair to take a 2-0 lead and looked headed back to the ALCS. I can vividly recall walking down the stairs to the clubhouse with screaming fans and Springsteen's "Glory Days" pounding over the loudspeakers. It was a glory run that seemed like it would never end. But it really did when I found myself in the park four days later to see Pedro Martinez throw six no-hit innings of relief in a 12-8 Boston victory that cemented a stunning three-game comeback. 

Read my Game 2 story here.  Read my Game 5 story here. 

2007 ALDS Game 2: The midges struck from Lake Erie just as Joba Chamberlain came on to preserve a one-run lead for the Yankees in the eighth. He spit the bit on the lead and the Tribe won the game in the 11th. But all anyone remembers is the bugs. And they were everywhere. Read my buggy story here. 

Yanks in trouble, Phils hit surprising bump

Quick hits on the division series:

---Remember when I said that Game One suspension hurt the Tigers? Never mind. The Tigers survived the Bronx downpours for a huge 5-3 win in Game Two. And ponder this one: If Justin Verlander beats CC Sabathia tonight at 8:30 -- which I think he will do -- the Yankees' season will rest of the shabby, erratic arm of A.J. Burnett. Yeesh. Advantage, Tigers.

---Seemed like we should have just been able to cue up that Phillies-Brewers NLCS. The Diamondbacks and Cardinals have been outclassed. At least that's what I was thinking when the Phillies had a 4-0 lead last night and were heading to a 2-0 series lead of their own. And then Cliff Lee blew the lead and the Cardinals came back to win, 5-4. I still think the Phillies win the series but it's a lot dicier now with the next two in St. Loo.

---No clue about the Rays and Rangers. Texas' 8-6 win Saturday broke the six-game losing streak home teams had in the division series between these clubs the last two years in the ALDS. Let's see what happens in today's key swing game with the series at 1-1.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

The postseason begins: Make your picks

While the Red Sox are going through the process of not renewing Terry Francona's contract today (e.g. he's getting fired), the real focus of the baseball world is the start of the postseason. The American League division series opens on two fronts with the Rays and Rangers meeting in Texas and the Yankees and Tigers meeting in the Bronx. That's Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia and that's must-see TV.

Right from the top, I'll put this out there: I got the Tigers and the Phillies in the World Series and I'm taking the Phillies in six. Sorry, Yankees fans. If Sabathia doesn't win tonight, I think it's possible the Tigers sweep the Bombers in three. And wouldn't that make for an interesting offseason. Remember, all division series games are on TBS.

So here's some quick analysis off the cuff. Hey, I gotta do Sunday's Inside Baseball column on the collapse of the Sox and Braves and I'm still working hockey previews too. Some multi-tasking. I give you some polls at the bottom too. Be sure and vote!

Tigers vs. Yankees -- I know all about the Bombers' offense but you have to like the Tigers' combination of Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer. You have to love closer Jose Valverde. Miguel Cabrera should get plenty of MVP looks. As for the Yankees, can you really count on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia in this spot? Seriously? And does A-Rod show up in this series or bat eighth like he did in when he was humiliated in Game Four in Detroit in 2006. Tigers in four. 

Rays vs. Rangers -- I'm tempted, very/very tempted, to pick the Rays to go to the World Series. Maybe I should. Now that they're actually in the postseason, they have the best starting pitching in the AL. I think they get through this series and avenge last year's division series loss but you wonder how much energy they have left after that crazy September. Rays in five.

Cardinals vs. Phillies -- I don't think a lot of analysis is needed. The Phillies' losing streak near the end of the season was rooted in injuries and boredom after clinching the division title. They're ready. Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt with Worley in the bullpen. Do they need a bullpen? This is one of Tony LaRussa's better managing jobs but this is a case of thanks for playing and please drive home safely. Phillies in three.

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers -- Who had this matchup in March? Thought so.  In Kirk Gibson and Ron Roenicke, you have your two main candidates for NL manager of the year. Think the Yankees wish 20-game winner Ian Kennedy had found his game when he was with them until waiting to getting to Arizona?  The Dbacks are a great story but the Brewers have the motivation of Prince Fielder's last season. They have an MVP in Ryan Braun, a great rotation, a supreme closer in former Canisius College pitcher John Axford. I think Brewers-Phillies could be a fabulous NLCS. Can't wait. Brewers in four.

Now you vote.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

World Series: You make the call

Division Series impressions

Apologies for some of the silence on ye olde IP blog. That Sabres preview section took lots of time and energy but that doesn't mean we haven't been watching the Division Series and preparing for our annual pilgrimage to the World Series.

Here's a few of my thoughts in no real order:

---I stand by my March choice of Phillies over Yankees. They're both prohibitive favorites now after quick sweeps. Their pitching is all set for the LCS as they can run Halladay/Oswalt/Hamels and Sabathia/Pettitte/Hughes, respectively. Now, of course, they move to best-of-seven and you really can't go with just three starters. The Yankees have already announced today that they will in fact use A.J. Burnett in Game Four. Oh boy. They're going to be playing simulated games Tuesday and Wednesday so they don't get overly rusty. But six days off is a loooooooong time at this point.

---Poor Brooks Conrad. Has anyone had that many yips in the field in a playoff game as the Braves second baseman did last night? Even Bill Buckner only butchered one ball, not three! The Braves are sitting him out tonight in Game Four, putting Omar Infante at second and Troy Glaus at third. They had no choice.

---What's up with the Rays and Rangers? No five-game series has ever seen the road team win all five games so that's in the Rays favor for the deciding game Tuesday night in St. Pete. The Yankees have to love this series. Now Cliff Lee or David Price is out of the ALCS until Game Three and certainly can't go three times in seven games.

---The Giants need to win tonight. Forget about beating the Phillies in the NLCS if they have to use Tim Lincecum in Game Five against Atlanta. They'll be in the same spot the Rays and Rangers find themselves in.

---Why did the Reds even bother? If that was the National League's best offense, that doesn't say much for the NL. Between the Halladay no-hitter, the Hamels shutout and Jay Bruce's butcher job in the lights, it was a quick exit after 15 years out of the postseason. Dusty Baker sure goes down hard in October (think 2002 Angels and 2003 Cubs). Even the Twins played the Yankees tough for two games. But they're equally pathetic in October.

Memo to White Sox, Cardinals, Astros and even sad-sacks like the Indians, Royals and Pirates: You're not that far away in these divisions. If the Twins and Reds are the gold standard, you can jump up quick. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Drama in Denver caps division series

Phils Pretty amazing game Monday night in Denver to draw the Division Series round to a close. The Phillies showed why they're the defending champions by rallying for three runs in the top of the ninth -- after giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth -- and held on for a 5-4 win over the Rockies to close the series in four games.

So we had three sweeps and one four-gamer in the first round but each series had at least one fantastic finish and the Phils-Rox had a double dose of drama once they hit frigid Denver. A big story in the opening round was the failure of closers. Jonathan Papelbon, Huston Street, Joe Nathan and Ryan Franklin all flamed out when their teams needed them most. Makes you appreciate Mariano Rivera come October even more.

We'll have plenty more later in the week on the LCS (Phils-Dodgers opens Thursday in LA and I'll be on hand for Yankees-Angels I and II Friday and Saturday in the Bronx). But for now, give a quick look back to the ALDS and NLDS with a vote in our poll below.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

(Photo: Associated Press)

Diamond musings from The Ralph

It's a sunny but chilly day at Ralph Wilson Stadium as I get set for our Bills Live chat at noon. I'm told it's about the same in Fenway Park as the Red Sox and Angels get set for Game Three of the ALDS shortly after noon. You wonder if this is the day the Angels finally end their long playoff hex against Boston. So far, the Sox have done nothing at the plate. And they have to put all their faith today in Clay Buchholz.

The Yankees are 9-0 against the Twins this year.And today they face Carl Pavano. This series should be over tonight. I'll be on hand Friday night in the Bronx and I'm expecting to see Game One of Yankees-Angels.

Umpire Phil Cuzzi tells the Newark-Star Ledger "there is no excuse" for his blown call in the 11th inning Friday. Sure isn't. What else is he doing out there but watching that line? May as well scrap the two OF umps in the postseason and just go to replay.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees were so frustrated by Joba Chamberlain that they nearly sent him to Scranton in August, and that Chad Gaudin will almost certainly start in the ALCS while Joba will stay in the bullpen.

Hello, Cardinals? The playoffs started. You might have wanted to show up. No home runs by Albert Pujols since Sept. 9. An end-of-season slumber that never ended when the postseason started. The Dodgers pulled off just the third sweep ever against St. Louis. The others were in the World Series in 1928 (Yankees) and 2004 (Red Sox).

After yesterday's snowout, the weather is expected to be warmer today in Denver for the Phillies and Rockies. Philly has gone back to J.A. Happ and scratched Pedro Martinez. That means Cliff Lee can go in Game Four.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Late night in NL, great night for Yankees

It was nearly 1:30 a.m. today before the Dodgers finally wrapped up their Game One victory over the Cardinals in the NLDS, a 5-3 victory that set a division series record for a nine-inning game by lasting 3 hours, 54 minutes. The main reason? The teams combined to leave 30 men on base, a record for any nine-inning postseason affair. The Dodgers stranded 16, including the bases loaded three times.

Stunningly, history says the Cardinals are in trouble. Teams losing the opener of an NLDS are just 3-25 in their series (the losers in the ALDS opener are 14-14). The three that came back to win the opening round all went to the World Series -- the '99 Braves, '00 Mets and '03 Marlins.

The biggest story from the opening day of play, of course, was the fact that A-Rod quickly snapped out of his postseason funk with two hits in the Yankees' win over the Twins. Big elephant in the room that's now been shooed away. Great job backing up his bucks by CC Sabathia as well.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

It's postseason time: Who wins it all?

The playoffs begin at today at 2:30 with Game One of the Rockies-Phillies series. Be sure to check our complete preview in today's paper and vote in our polls for the ALDS and NLDS. But as we head toward the first pitch of the postseason, give us a preliminary thought on who is going to win it all.

The Yankees getting No. 27? The Red Sox cementing team of the decade with their third title in six years? The Cardinals, Angels or Phillies tying Boston with their second of the decade? The upstart Rockies? The Dodgers' first crown since 1988, further adding to the legend of Joe Torre?

Make your pick. Even leave a comment or two on where you think Inside Pitch is going to be for the Fall Classic

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Twins-Tigers talk

Tuesday night's Tigers-Twins game was so good that people would be writing books about it years later if it involved the Yankees or Red Sox. Of course, I hope they weren't watching TBS' atrocious coverage, as Chip Caray ruined the family name with an historically brutal night behind the microphone that left him battered by the masses on Twitter and Craig Sager further embarrassed himself with his purple jacket. You're not the story, dude.

The '09 Tigers, who held a seven-game lead in September and a three-game lead with four to play, go down in history with other great chokers like the '07 and '08 Mets, the '04 Yankees, '78 Red Sox and '64 Phillies. Of course, Caray actually called it one of Jim Leyland's "best managing jobs." Say what?

Blue Jays fans are snickering today with the thought the baseball gods finally caught up to the Tigers for stealing that AL East pennant in 1987, when Toronto lost the final seven games -- including the last three in Detroit -- to blow a 3 1/2-game lead in the final week.

Go to this link for a terrific section of coverage from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Beat writer LaValle Neal had a 4:45 a.m. wakeup call to New York after a wet night in the clubhouse. Been there, done that. (Stayed dry in the Bisons' 1997 championship celebration in Iowa. Was at Jacobs Field a week later when the Indians clinched the Central and pitcher Brian Anderson reminded me how I was dry with the Herd. I thus got soaked by the Tribe).

Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg said, "This was one of those rare, special days in sports where the moment seems so important, the game cannot possibly live up to it -- and then the game exceeds it."

ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski takes you inside the Twins' clubhouse.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Pick the ALDS winners

Be sure to catch our MLB playoff preview in Wednesday's paper (a one-day delay thanks to the Twins and Tigers and the NFL). Vote here for the ALDS winners.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Yankees' Posada not catching A.J.

Looks like the Jorge Posada-A.J. Burnett feud the Yankees spent all season denying the existence of is pretty real. All the beat writers are pounding Twitter from the team's workout in the Bronx with the news that Jose Molina will catch Burnett in Game Two of the division series (maybe Posada replaces Matsui as the DH?) And the money quote from Posada is this: "I just hope we win that game. That's all." Hmmm. Can't wait to read the papers.

Molina caught Burnett's final six starts of the season. Burnett was trying to shake off Posada with regularity, especially in a 14-1 loss in Boston in August, and the two veterans simply don't see eye to eye.

Interesting that Joe Girardi would finally admit there's a problem there on the eve of the playoff opener. Are the Yankees really going to sit a veteran like Posada for a Bronx newcomer like Burnett if they make it to the World Series? Seems absurd.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Yankees getting 6 p.m. starts

All reports out of New York are that the Yankees are picking the division series option that opens Wednesday, regardless of the result of Tuesday's Tigers-Twins playoff. And MLB has announced Sunday night that the Yankees will have viewer-friendly 6 p.m. start times on TBS. Here's the rundown of start times for the first four days of the postseason

Wednesday
Rockies at Phillies, 2:37
Twins/Tigers at Yankees, 6:07
Cardinals at Dodgers, 9:37

Thursday
Rockies at Phillies, 2:37
Cardinals at Dodgers, 6:07
Red Sox at Angels, 9:37

Friday
Twins/Tigers at Yankees, 6:07
Red Sox at Angels, 9:37

Saturday
Dodgers at Cardinals, 6:07
Phillies at Rockies, 9:37

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Cubs, Angels come up small

The Cubs couldn't do anything right in their series. The Angels somehow survived Game Three but blew a ninth-inning suicide squeeze and got sent home for the winter by the Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game Four Monday night.

So there we have it. Baseball's two best regular-season teams get richly-deserved exits in the division series. We're left with Dodgers and Phillies in the NLCS and a bitter grudge match between the Red Sox and Rays in the ALCS.

Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez could be on a collision course with his former teammates for a World Series at Fenway. Wouldn't that make for a wild story? Ramirez says he's rooting for his former teammates and here's one more piece of delicious irony: The Red Sox are still paying his salary!

The NLCS starts Thursday, the ALCS on Friday so we've still got time to ponder my picks. So looking back at the division series, are you more surprised by the fall of the Cubs or the Angels?

---Mike Harrington

The LA story

Wednesday was a bad day for the teams with the game's best records. The Cubs and Angels both looked tight in dropping Game One of the division series at home. And if they don't win Game Two (Thursday night for the Cubs, Friday for the Angels), it could be a quick exit after terrific seasons.

I really thought the Angels were head and shoulders above everybody else in the AL but they just didn't show up Wednesday. John Lackey threw one fat pitch to Jason Bay that became a two-run homer and Vladimir Guerrero foolishly tried to go first-to-third on a blooper behind first base and was nailed by Kevin Youkilis (Hey Vlad, get the refrigerator off your back!).

I know I raised some eyebrows picking the Dodgers over the Cubs but things seemed to go fine for that choice in Game One. Derek Lowe outpitched Ryan Dempster and the doom and gloom that's inevitable after 100 years of failure filled Wrigley after James Loney's grand slam. Then Manny Ramirez golfed another one into the bleachers and the Dodgers breezed home.

Meanwhile, esteemed Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy torched Ramirez in this piece Thursday morning. Wow. Just imagine if the Dodgers and Sox end up meeting  in the World Series. What a scene that would be at Fenway.

---Mike Harrington

Musical Tribe salute

BOSTON -- News compatriot Budd Bailey just passed this one on to me. Get ready to laugh if you're an Indians fan or a Yankees hater. A lot. (Apologies to Don McLean).

More later as we head to Fenway for Game One of the ALCS.

---Mike Harrington

Torre: Should he stay or should he go?

Torre_ii_3 NEW YORK -- It looks like it's all over for Joe Torre, even though his players support him almost unanimously and Yankees fans clearly showed late in Game Four that they feel the same way.

After the 6-4 loss to the Indians, Torre seemed resigned to his fate and even talked about the Yankees as "they".

I'm betting there's no turning back now and George Steinbrenner is firing Torre after a third-straight first round exit.

But what would you do? Try again with Torre or go in the direction of Joe Girardi/Don Mattingly/someone else?

---Mike Harrington

(Photo: Torre struggles to keep his composure during his postgame press conference/Associated Press)

Live from New York: It's Game Four

NEW YORK -- This is the place to check for updates on Game Four between the Yankees and Indians. Keep it here in between looks at the Bills-Cowboys game.

It's over: Joe Borowski closed out a 6-4 win for the Indians and we'll talk to you from Boston on Friday night.

End-8th: Three outs to go for the Tribe. It's 6-3 heading to the top of the ninth. The place is deathly silent and there are empty seats all over the place. After nearly four hours, many of the faithful are calling it a season.

Torre Top-8th: If this is the end, the fans are sending their message with chants of "Jo-oe Tor-re, Jo-oe Tor-re" as the embattled manager (left) goes to the mound to make pitching changes. It's similar to how they saluted Paul O'Neill at the end of Game Five of the 2001 World Series. But will their opinion matter?

Bot-7th: A-Rod just went deep off Rafael Perez A solo shot to make it 6-3. Is that the one that kick-starts a comeback or will it be just a meaningless stat-stuffer?

Bot-6th: It's desperation time for the Yankees. The scoreboard says "We've been here before" and video highlights are playing from the Game Seven comeback against the Red Sox in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. "Let's Do It Again" the board roars. Three pitches later, Robinson Cano goes deep and it's 6-2. Hmmm. That's it for Paul Byrd and Perez is coming in. The scoreboard is working overtime. Rudy Giuliani and Tino Martinez just drew big cheers with Tino leading the fans in applause.

Bot-5th: A-Rod was getting booed after two straight strikeouts against Byrd before pulling a slow single in the hole between third and short. Speaking of Byrd, the Tribe probably needs just one more inning out of him before it turns things over to the pen. That should shut up the national types who have crucified Eric Wedge for using him even though the guy won 15 games. As for the media big shots, all they've shown is they've done nothing all year but watch Yankees and Red Sox games.

Mid-4th: This better be the night for the Tribe. Victor Martinez's two-run single off Mike Mussina has Cleveland in control, 6-1. If the Yankees pull off this comeback, well ....

End-2nd: Lots going on as the Indians lead, 4-1, through two innings that have taken 74 minutes to play. Yeeeesh. In the top of the inning, Franklin Gutierrez and Casey Blake singled -- prompting Mike Mussina to start warming in the pen. Kelly Shoppach squared to bunt and got drilled on the hand to load the bases. Wait. The replay clearly showed the ball hitting the barrel of the bat but the call stands. Another huge break for the Tribe to load the bases.

Wang There's a meeting on the mound (right) and here comes Joe Torre to take Wang out after just one-plus innings. That's a huge boost for the Tribe and a major disappointment to the Yankees. Mussina takes over with the bases loaded and no out and Grady Sizemore up again. What a jam. Mussina gets a double-play ball from Sizemore (Gutierrez scores) but gives up a two-out RBI single to Asdrubal Cabrera to make it 4-0. Here's an amazing stat: Cabrera's hit gives the Indians 15 two-out runs in this series. Fifteen out of 22. Wow.

The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but Johnny Damon popped out. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single that ate up Casey Blake at third but Bobby Abreu's lazy fly to center left the bags loaded.

End-1st: It was a scorcher today in New York and an incredible 87 degrees at the first pitch. In October! And the Indians just got off to a hot start as Sizemore pounded Chien-Ming Wang's third pitch deep into the bleachers in right-center to quickly put the Tribe up, 1-0. With two out and the crowd roaring on a full count, Jhonny Peralta looped a single to right-center to score Travis Hafner and make it 2-0. GREAT start for the Tribe. Paul Byrd gave up singles to Jeter and Abreu in the bottom of the first but fanned K-Rod on an 86-mph fastball and got Jorge Posada on a sinking liner the Kenny Lofton corraled with a slide in left field.

---Mike Harrington

(Photos: Associated Press)

Tribe-Yanks pregame

NEW YORK -- I made it to Yankee Stadium for Game Four of the division series and that has been no small accomplishment. Waiting for the No. 4 subway, there was no train for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. I was just about to give up the ghost anyway when an announcement was made that there was an "investigation" at another stop and the No. 4 wasn't coming anytime soon. No problem, right? Just hop a cab. Except I found the only American cabbie in Manhattan who didn't know a). what Yankee Stadium was and b). how the heck to get to it.

Are you serious, dude? Ridiculous.

Anyway, things are a little tamer around here today after the pregame Joe Torre frenzy prior to Game Three. The biggest issue is why Eric Wedge insists on starting 15-game winner Paul Byrd instead of bringing C.C. Sabathia back on three days rest. I'm with Wedge on this one even if the national media is pouncing on him.

Sabathia will start Game Five if needed on Wednesday with Fausto Carmona ready to back him up. But it would be HUGE for the Tribe to win tonight, be able to go Sabathia-Carmona in Games One and Two in Boston -- and potentially get five starts out of them in seven games in the ALCS.

"The guy won 15 games for us and we wouldn't be here without him," Wedge said of Byrd. "The history of three days rest is nothing spectacular. And C.C. threw 114 pitches in five innings [in Game One] as as as he's thrown all year. He's pushing 250 innings for the season. We're not going to put anybody in harm's way, much less our ace one of the best pitchers in baseball. We're just not going to do it. From a common sense standpoint, people should understand that."

The Yankees have officially taken Roger Clemens off their roster and replaced him with Ron Villone. That means Clemens will miss the rest of this series -- and the ALCS if the Yankees advance. Doug Mientkiewicz is back at first base with sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang back on the mound. The Indians have put in Byrd's personal catcher, Kelly Shoppach, and moved Victor Martinez to first base. That leaves Ryan Garko (4 for 11) on the bench.

Here's tonight's starting lineups:

Cleveland                          New York

Grady Sizemore, cf           Johnny Damon, lf

Asdrubal Cabrera, 2b      Derek Jeter, ss

Travis Hafner, dh             Bobby Abreu, rf

Victor Martinez, 1b           Alex Rodriguez, 3b

Jhonny Peralta, ss           Jorge Posada, c

Kenny Lofton, lf                Hideki Matsui, dh

Franklin Gutierrez, rf       Robinson Cano, 2b

Casey Blake, 3b               Melky Cabrera, cf

Kelly Shoppach, c            Doug Mientkiewicz, 1b

---------------------------------------------------

Paul Byrd, p                    Chien-Ming Wang, p

---Mike Harrington

CC or no CC for Tribe

NEW YORK --  Plenty of media types here are ready to skewer Eric Wedge for going with Paul Byrd in Game Four Monday night in Yankee Stadium. The thinking is that C.C. Sabathia could come back on three days rest for the Indians, like Chien-Ming Wang is doing for the Yankees, and Fausto Carmona would then be ready for Game Five.

Wedge has been adamant since before the series started that Sabathia, who has pitched on short rest just once in his career, would not do it in this series and that the Tribe needs four starters to win. Furthermore, with Byrd on the hill, Wedge loses some offense because he uses Kelly Shoppach at catcher, moves Victor Martinez to first and sits Ryan Garko.

Is Wedge working from a position of strength because he still leads the series or is he making a big mistake?

---Mike Harrington

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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