ALCS Game 4: Just a Moment Away

Check that Tribe fans. The Magic has been back. The Cleveland Indians are just one more postseason victory away from climbing back to the World Series for the first time since before I’d even kissed a woman.

Paul Byrd continued his smoke and mirrors attack, and the Indians found a way to get to Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball in winning their third ALCS game in a row. The Tribe withstood a burst of fury from the Red Sox bats; as they became the first team to ever hit back-to-back-to-back homeruns in League Championship Series history.

Terry Francona looks a bit confused. When Mike Lowell popped out for the first out in the 9th inning tonight he looked shocked. After the game Peter Gammons could be seen talking to other media members on the Jacobs Field battle ground; waving his arms and shrugging his shoulders at how this little engine that could Indians team could take down his mighty Red Sox three games in a row.

It hasn’t been easy; this team just wins ugly as it has all season long. It took 11 innings and everything short of throwing the kitchen sink at the ‘sawks to even this series last saturday night. The stars haven’t shined for the Indians in this series: Grady Sizemore has 3 hits (all in game 2). Travis Hafner went hitless with 4 strikeouts tonight. Victor Martinez got his first hit from the right side of the plate all postseason tonight, and it was against Wakefield, a right-handed pitcher. Isn’t it fitting that a journeyman pitcher in Paul Byrd and a streaky #3 starter in Jake Westbrook have accounted for the wins from the Indians starters; and not the two loaded-arsenal Cy Young candidates Sabathia and Carmona. Isn’t it just typical of this team?

It won’t be easy. Josh Beckett in 8 career postseason starts has a 1.87 ERA. Teams in the postseason with Josh Beckett on the roster have won all 4 postseason series they’ve played. If the Indians are going to close this series down at home and pour out champagne at the Jake for their 42,000 champion starved teepee heads, they’ll have to beat the best.

The bottom line is that the Indians have put themselves in a position where Boston must now have a 3 game sweep against them to keep them from getting to the World Series. Boston will need to beat the best two starters the Indians have consecutively. Otherwise the Indians will enter the World Series as heavy favorites against a white hot Colorado Rockies team.

Whatever happens from here on out; the Indians have given their fans this year the ride of a lifetime. This sneaky-good team had it’s low points during the season when it caused some to question whether they could even hold off the Detroit Tigers. Now this group led by a skipper in Eric Wedge, who’s been on the hot seat all season long, finds themselves a win away from playing for it all near Halloween.

Many Indians fans will disagree with me. They’ll say that they want to be greedy and not relax, just end this thing right now in game 5. Something tells me there is no reason to worry or feel urgency anymore. Something tells me that this team will answer sometime very soon and deliver as they have in the face of odds all season long. If not in game 5, it will be game 6. To quote Chicago Cubs fans: “It’s Gonna Happen.”

[Box Score]