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Indians Indians Archive Stacking The Deck
Written by Paul Cousineau

Paul Cousineau
Naturally I'm biased, but I love Paulie C's columns. The guy just drips of fandom, and he's one of those writers ... I almost always agree with him. In his latest, Paul talks about the advantage the Indians gained last night by going up 2-1, and how well our starting pitching is set up for the back end of this series. We need just two more wins. And have our two horses set to pitch games 5 and 6. First pitch, 8:20 PM. I can't wait. Let's break their hearts in Beantown tonight Tribe!

With the Tribe now up 2-1 in the series against Boston, it appears as if the starting pitching couldn’t line up for the Erie Warriors any better. Thanks to the offense bailing out Carmona and Perez in Game 2 and Jake Westbrook willing his way through 6 2/3 in Game 3, the Indians stand only two games away from the World Series with their two best pitchers scheduled to start (at least) two of the four remaining games.

Despite the Red Sox sitting on Bob Gibson…er, Josh Beckett for the possibility of going two games, does anyone really think that the Indians are at a disadvantage on the mound?

Now, C.C. and Fausto got crushed in the first two games – no question.

There’s no way to sugarcoat their outings.

But the Indians have two 19-game winners who have made adjustments all season long and have both played the role of the stopper (not allowing the Indians to go on a prolonged losing streak) throughout the year waiting their turns to inch the Red Sox closer to some October tee times. Now, with Byrd surprising everyone in Game 4 of the ALDS and Jake shutting down a Boston offense that bashed its way through the playoffs to this point last night, The Crooked Cap and Faustastic can go out and just pitch – not having to worry about carrying the weight of the team on their shoulders.

However, it’s up to Sabathia and Carmona to make the adjustments to nullify the patience of the Boston hitters that resulted in an ungodly cumulative 2.52 WHIP for the two in their starts. By making the necessary adjustments (not nibbling, throwing first pitch strikes), they have a better chance of limiting the effectiveness of the middle of the Red Sox lineup that plagued them in Boston. Westbrook was able to do that last night and it proved to be the difference, allowing only Varitek to plate runs in the 7th.

Consider where the Red Sox are getting the run production from in their lineup:

Pedroia – 0 RBI

Youkilis – 0 RBI

Ortiz – 0 RBI

Ramirez – 6 RBI

Lowell – 6 RBI

Kielty/Drew – 2 RBI (both by Kielty)

Varitek – 4 RBI

Crisp – 0 RBI

Lugo – 0 RBI

I’m no statistician, but I believe that’s referred to as a bell curve and (while obviously that’s the design of a lineup) keeping those hitters, mainly Ramirez and Lowell, in check is what the two horses of the Indians rotation need to do. It was thought before the series that minimizing the damage of that middle of the order was important for the Indians pitchers to be effective, but it has certainly come to fruition.

The other players have stepped up, it’s time for C.C. and Fausto to do the same as the series goes on. To this point, the Indians have accumulated some chips bluffing their way into some pots and grinding through the game.

Up two games in the series, the Tribe is sitting on Pocket Aces, tempting the Red Sox to go “all in” with Beckett tonight, hoping that the Joker in the deck (Paul Byrd) is able to push the Red Sox closer to the brink of elimination.

First things first, though, with Game 4 starting at 8:20 and figuring to finish after midnight (at least), so the ride into sleep deprivation and buying stock in Rolaids and Pepto continues.

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