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Written by Paul Cousineau

Paul Cousineau
Now THAT's the Indian Way says Paulie Cous!  Strong starting pitching, a lockdown bullpen, and a balanced offense.  The Indians are Kelly Pavlik right now.  After being down in the second round, they now have the Red Sox backed into the corner and are peppering them with haymakers ... with a good chance to end this thing Thursday night with our ace on the hill at home.  Paul talks about all of this, and has some major love for The Byrd Man in his latest effort for us ... Now THAT’S the Indian Way – strong starting pitching, a lockdown bullpen, and a balanced offense in Game 5 to put the Red Sox on the ropes as the Indians team that we’ve watched all season long simply played the way they know how to and pushed Boston to the edge of the cliff.

As Byrd and Wakefield battled, neither offense could put a solid rally together and each pitcher seemed to be growing stronger as the innings passed. But, after being baffled by Wakefield for most of the game (6 K in the first 4 innings), they caught a break when Asdrubal’s liner glanced off of the knuckleballer’s glove and the Tribe smelled blood in the water. They jumped on Wakefield and didn’t release their choke hold on him or Manny Delcarmen until the Red Sox essentially tapped out, down 7-0.

And how about a hand for the Byrdman, who simply goes out in the playoffs and eats innings against two of the best offenses in baseball, giving his team a chance to win with double wind-ups, Crisco (whoops, did I say that?), pitches in the low-to-mid-80’s, veteran guile, and guts?

Is there a more underappreciated Indian?

After Byrd couldn’t rebound from the extended layoff, and despite the FOX announcers’ best attempts to add some intrigue to the rest of the night, Jensen Lewis (once he got past Manny) and Rafael Betancourt slammed the door on Boston. No, that doesn’t do justice to how they treated the Red Sox hitters…those two slammed the door, locked it, threw the deadbolt, set up the chain lock, and threw a dresser in front of the door that the Red Sox couldn’t even find the handle for.

While the Indians’ pitchers were calmly going about shutting down the potent Boston offense, the Tribe hitters did what they’ve done all series long – they ALL showed up and played a part in the success of the team. No one player or play stands out as the killshot, though Honny P’s 3-run job got my wife (with a recently thrown-out-back) off her feet as that “line just kept on moving” in the spectacular 5th inning.

To fully appreciate what a complete offensive effort the Indians have put forth in the first four games of the series, consider the breadth and depth of the production thus far:

Peralta – 7 RBI
Gutierrez – 4 RBI
Cabrera – 4 RBI
Lofton – 2 RBI
Hafner – 2 RBI
Martinez – 2 RBI
Blake – 2 RBI
Nixon – 1 RBI
Sizemore – 1 RBI
Garko – 1 RBI

Not one Indians’ regular has been shut out of driving in runs in the ALCS and the balance of the attack and the relentless and patient nature of the lineup is what has driven three of the four Boston starters out of the game.

On a night when the Red Sox could have taken control and momentum right back from the Tribe, stealing one on the road with their 4th starter on the mound and Beckett going tomorrow, they played tight and swung early and often and the offerings of the Tribe arms. The Indians, on the other hand, fully aware that momentum in the series could swing with a Boston win in Game 5, never seemed to waver. The team put off a cool confidence that belied their inexperience, never letting the Red Sox see them sweat.

The Indians are calmly going about their business, playing their brand of baseball, and acting like they’re the team that have all been there before. In doing so, they’ve set themselves up about as well as anyone could have hoped, with an opportunity to clinch with their aCCe on the mound at home in Game 5.

On the day that World Series tickets arrived to the house in the mail, and with Game 5 tickets under my bed, calm is settling in.
Next up…the storm of a potential World Series berth.

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