Joba, Yankees can't avoid the plague
CLEVELAND -- The word "bizarre" doesn't do justice to some events on a baseball field. Randy Johnson once struck and killed a dove with a fastball. A black cat walked in front of the Chicago Cubs' dugout in the summer of 1969, portending the team's late collapse against the Mets. And 15 years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates actually enjoyed a winning season.
AL DIVISION SERIES
series pageWhile Chamberlain was looking itchy, the Indians scratched out a run to tie the score. Three innings later, Travis Hafner's bases-loaded single off Luis Vizcaino scored Kenny Lofton to give Cleveland a 2-1 victory, and you could only wonder where this thing might be headed. The Indians are resigned to playing without the support of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, a diehard Yankees fan from head to toe. But they just might have a claim on destiny. "Just when you think you've seen it all, you see something new," New York shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I guess that's the home-field advantage for them -- just let the bugs out in the eighth inning. It worked."AP Photo/Mark DuncanGrady Sizemore slides home with the tying run on the second wild pitch of the eighth inning from Joba Chamberlain, right.
On a normal night, the story line would have revolved around the stellar performances of the two starting pitchers. Andy Pettitte lived up to his reputation as the Yankees' big-game guy, keeping the Indians off the board despite allowing a leadoff hit in five of his seven innings.
And Cleveland's Fausto Carmona, who emerged as a star this season with a 19-8 record, was as good as advertised. He pounded the zone with sinking fastballs in the mid-90s, induced lots of uncomfortable swings and easily outdid staff ace C.C. Sabathia, who labored through five innings in the series opener Thursday."I've had guys come down to first base all year, great hitters in our division who just want no part of him," said Indians first baseman Ryan Garko. "I'm talking about guys who've made All-Star teams and won MVP awards, and they're like, 'This guy is just nasty.' You don't hear that a lot about pitchers. I hear it about him all the time."
The Twilight Zone Other strange but true instances that have occurred in Cleveland: June 4, 1974: Ten Cent Beer Night was an ill-fated promotion held during a game against the Texas Rangers at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Fans could drink as many 8-ounce cups of Stroh's beer as they wanted for just 10 cents apiece, thus increasing ticket sales. But the stunt turned ugly when the fans turned into a rowdy and raucous crowd devoid of all inhibition. Ultimately, the game was forfeited to Texas on the orders of plate umpire Nestor Chylak because of the crowd's uncontrollable rowdiness and because the game could not be resumed in a timely manner. May 27, 1986: A game between the Red Sox and the Indians was called because of fog after six innings. It led to the infamous Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd quote: "That's what they get for building a park on the ocean." The game was on the shores of Lake Erie. April 6-9, 2007: The entire home series with the Seattle Mariners is snowed out. Source: ESPN Research
They were in front of my face, but I wasn't the only one who had to deal with it. ... You can look at it a million ways, but when you come down to it, we were in the loss column. And it's because I didn't do my job.
--Joba ChamberlainBefore scoring the tying run without benefit of a hit, the Indians had to wonder whether they were the cursed team. They went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and caught a bad break when shortstop Jhonny Peralta hit a 420-foot shot off the center-field wall that just missed being a home run in the seventh. Now the teams head to the Bronx for Games 3 and 4, with Cleveland in need of one more win to end New York's season. If it doesn't happen there, the Indians have the luxury of knowing Sabathia will be waiting to pitch Game 5 at the Jake. Don't look now, but Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-6 in two games, the Yankees are hitting .121 as a team and New York sure seems to be on the wrong side of the series karma. At this point, it's hard to tell what the Yankees need more -- a psychologist or an entomologist. Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.AP Photo/Tony DeThe Indians swarm Travis Hafner after his walk-off hit in the 11th, but the game will be most remembered for the swarm that came a few innings earlier.
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