October 12, 2007 - 6:38 PM
BOSTON -- Greetings from wind-swept Fenway Park, where the rain has given way to a brilliant sunset and a howling, cold breeze that seems to be alternately coming in from the Green Monster or blowing from left field to right field.
Thumbs up to the Fenway Franks here in the press box (left). Thumbs down to the New England-style bread rolls. I want a hot dog roll, not a piece of bread sliced in half! But they smell great. Everything about Fenway does. The concessions are great and the food and souvenir stands on Yawkey Way outside the park -- which is closed to traffic prior to the game -- make for a terrific festival atmosphere. Even ex-Sox pitcher Luis Tiant has a stand to sell Cuban sandwiches.
But food aside, we have a doozy of a game coming -- the opener of the ALCS between the Indians and Red Sox as C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett take the mound. Keep it here for new updates.
It's over: Boston wins it, 10-3, even though Eric Gagne made it interesting by loading the bases in the ninth.
Mid-8th: The Red Sox lead it, 10-3, so the crowd was particularly boisterous as it performed its nightly rendition of "Sweet Caroline." Yep, the Neil Diamond classic became an institution at this point of the game here during the 2004 season and every other place that does it copied the idea from Fenway. Here's a video I found and it's pretty neat to hear the way the crowd gets into it. (Hey, I didn't shoot it so don't carp at me about the shakiness).
End-5th: This outing has been a total headscratcher for Sabathia (below). He has gone 1-2-3 in the even-numbered innings and has been brutal in the odd ones. Ramirez and Ortiz have been on base in all six of their at-bats (three singles, two walks and a hit batsman). So much for controlling the heart of the Boston order. Bobby Kielty's two-run single makes it 7-1 and Sabathia is gone in favor of Jensen Lewis. The way Beckett is pitching, this baby is over. See ya tomorrow.
Jason Varitek's double scores Kielty to make it 8-1 and gives Sabathia a final line of 4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 85 pitches, 44 strikes. Yeeesh. The ace's postseason ERA in two starts is 10.61. Ugly
End-3rd: What's going on with Sabathia in the postseason? Just 36 walks in the regular season but six in Game One against the Yankees and three in the third inning tonight as the Red Sox scored four runs to grab a 5-1 lead. Manny Ramirez's bases-loaded walk, Mike Lowell's two-run, ground-rule double and Jason Varitek's groundout scored the runs and now the Tribe is in serious trouble. Beckett, meanwhile, has retired nine of the 10 batters he's faced, five on strikeouts. Sabathia's changeup has been useless thus far while Beckett's curve has been devastating.
End-1st: So much for our 1-0 game as it's 1-1 after one. If Beckett keeps throwing these 76-mph hooks, the Tribe batters should simply sit down. He struck out the side, with Asdrubal Cabrera and Victor Martinez looking silly taking third strikes. But Travis Hafner had no such problem -- taking a 96-mph fastball over the wall in right for the first run of the series. Yes, there's a 21-mph wind blowing that way but it was a towering shot to make it 1-0 Tribe. The Indians scored 15 of their 24 runs against the Yankees with two outs. They're 1 for 1 in this series. Boston got three straight singles off Sabathia in the bottom of the inning, with the third one by Manny Ramirez driving in the run, but Mike Lowell's double-play ball killed the rally.
(Photos: Associated Press)