ALCS Game 2: Starters lifted early, Gagne and Lopez blow it

On this cold night in New England, neither Fausto Carmona nor Curt Schilling could make it past five innings. Despite featuring his heavy sinker inside to righties and low and away to lefties, Carmona couldn’t get hitters to bite often enough. Schilling was mistake prone and had several mistakes up in the zone, which led to two home runs by Jhonny Peralta and Grady Sizemore. The weather made it really hard for pitchers to get a good feel or get in a groove, and as it got colder, I think it probably bothered the bats as well.

Anyone else think Carmona’s ears are too small and elvish for his head? He must be half Vulcan.

Manager Eric Wedge made an interesting decision in the 5th, wouldn’t you say? He brought in his prize lefty, Rafael Perez to face David Ortiz, then he leaves him in there to face a red-hot Manny Ramirez, who happens to be one of the top hitters in the game against lefties. Okay, maybe that’s defensible, but why leave him in against Mike Lowell? And you definitely have to pull him in the post-season after giving up two back-to-back home runs, lefty or no lefty. That should have cost them the game right there, but the drama wasn’t over. The inning ended with a double play, but was there anyone else out there that thought Drew’s takeout slide into second was really weak? He was practically there before he started sliding.

In the 6th, Manny Delcarmen came out throwing 97 mph heat, but he couldn’t get his curve over for strikes, and the Indians started sitting on the heater. That allowed them to tie the game. Jensen Lewis managed to go 2 1/3, and Rafael Betancourt came out and kept the Sox at bay for 2 1/3.

Lowell had a long at-bat in the 8th, and even though he ended up striking out, he did exactly what the Red Sox preach to their hitters. I don’t know who said it, but the commentators said something like, “he shown no sign that he can get around on that fastball”. This is technique, not lack of ability. Anyone who’s watched Lowell all year knows that 95 mph is not too fast for him. He was sitting on Betancourt’s fastball, waiting for a mistake. Give credit to Betancourt though, he ended up getting Lowell on a very good breaking ball that dropped in.

Kevin Youkilis had a great at bat in the 9th, battling Betancourt with foul after foul. He finally got one to hit and pulled it into the left-center alley, but Sizemore managed to put it away to bring on the 10th. This left the Indians with little choice: we’re pitching Jonathan Papelbon in the 10th, while they’re trotting out Tom Mastny. That should have been the game. Should have.

Eric Gagne comes out for the 11th, and after striking out Casey Blake (their #9 hitter), he allows a hit and a walk. Javier Lopez comes out and gives up an RBI hit to Trot Nixon. Gagne is the goat again, and Lopez is just not effective. He can’t get lefties out, so why is he on the roster? Julian Tavarez would be a better choice. Lester’s outing was disappointing and embarrassing too, but I think it was pretty much over by then anyway.

I continue to be annoyed by announcers who don’t know what they’re talking about. Tim McCarver, that means you. In the 2nd inning, these guys were saying what a great at-bat J.D. Drew had because he went the other way on Carmona’s outside sinker. Uh, pounding it into the ground doesn’t really count as “going the other way”. There was nothing good about that at-bat, and he took a perfectly good 1-2 pitch before swinging. In the 4th inning, they were talking about “the silence at Fenway”. WTF? That could have been because nothing was going on at the time. I don’t think Carmona or the Indians did anything to take the crowd out of this game. Then in the 5th, they say how “someone” was playing the triangle in the Red Sox bullpen. That guy’s name is Jon Lester. Here’s a neat idea – why don’t you try familiarizing yourself with the teams you’re covering before you enter the broadcast booth? Sheesh. And they kept going on and on about Mastny’s “performance”. He did a good job, but it wasn’t that great.

This was a disappointing game to lose; I think we could have pulled it out, but that’s the playoffs, right? Anyway, I am still not worried about this series yet. We get Westbrook and Byrd next.


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