After checking to see that the problem was indeed with STO and not my cable (other channels were broadcasting successfully), I turned on the radio in time to hear Casey Blake smash one out of the Oversized Litter Box to give the Tribe the lead. Shortly after this occurred, STO realized, "Hey, we might have a technical problem! Better let people know!" and then a technical difficulty screen appeared on my TV. The picture came back as the Tigers were starting the bottom of the 11th.
What we could see of last night's game was exciting. I was out at a movie with my wife and missed the first 6 innings or so, but I saw on replays a great play by Kelly "Quadzilla" Shoppach to block the plate on Gary Sheffield to save a critical run in the fifth. The Ben Francisco "Treat" continued his run of stellar play with a pinch-hit home run to tie the game and send it into bonus baseball. Franklin Gutierrez caught a ball up against the fence in right field despite his best efforts to give himself poor position to make the play in the 10th. Tom Mastny pitched himself into bases loaded peril in the 1oth and then cleaned up his own mess.
Among the weirdness and mind games going on:
- The home plate umpire was truly incapable of providing a consistent strike zone, leading to much sniping from both sides.
- The umpires exercised an obscure rule that never gets enforced, probably at the instigation of Jim Leyland, that the pitcher has 12 second to deliver the ball or the umpire has the authority to award a ball to the batter. While I think it is unquestionable that Betancourt is one of the slowest and most deliberate pitchers in the league, the suddenness of enforcing this rule with runners on base in the 8th inning of a tie game in a critical game with pennant implications is pretty penny ante stuff. There has to be some way to retaliate against the Tigers for this pissy garbage. After the game, Wedge was actually angry. This is a big deal and it's not over yet. Maybe Wedge can have them impound Magglio Ordonez' bat and have it x-rayed for cork - there's something mighty suspicious about his .369 batting average.
- Catchers interference was called against Ivan Rodriguez during a plate appearance by Pronk in the 3rd inning, after which Pudge spent the rest of the game bitching to the home plate umpire that Pronk was out of the box on every subsequent plate appearance. The hit he was awarded on that catcher's interference call was Pronk's only hit of the evening.
About the previous night's game against the D-Rays, well, let's just say that right now the D-Rays are D-Moralized, as they played defense about as well as your average tee-ball league team and threw away the game. The Indians won 10-2 behind solid pitching by Carmona, who got picked up when he hit the wall by Rafael Perez. Perez pitched out of a bases loaded/no outs jam in the 7th to give the Tribe time to keep the Tribe ahead 3-2 and give the Tribe the chance to blow it open in the 8th with 7 runs as Tampa Bay's defense collapsed and the Indians' bats woke up, capped by a Sizemore grand slam.
Ben Francisco - 3/3, with a home run.
Pronk - 1/4 with a run scored.
The stands were packed with friends and family of D-Rays starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, a northeast Ohio native who went to Kent, and who pitched well against his hometown team, giving up 3 earned runs in 6 innings, and keeping his team in the game.
At any rate, the Indians are 3 games up on Detroit and as a team they seem to have their mojo working completely, and are now, officially, in the Tigers' heads. The Tigers are now 0-4 in their own stadium against the Indians. The Indians know how to Beat Michigan.