Thursday, April 19, 2007

Paying the fiddler

Eric Wedge fiddled around, Joe Borowski burned up, and A-Rod handed the Indians their most devastating regular-season loss of the Jacobs Field era.

Two outs, no one on base, bottom of the ninth on the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium, and Josh Phelps -- about as non-hallowed a Yankee as there's ever been -- up to bat with his team trailing 6-2. The Tribe's closer on the mound. Fans heading toward the exits. The white flag slowly being raised.

Even Phelps' home run didn't send more than a ripple through the emptying Yankee Stadium ocean. The Yankees were still a long ways away from even sniffing victory.

Then Jorge Posada singled. Johnny Damon followed with a walk.

And Eric Wedge fiddled.

Then Derek Jeter singled in a run. Bobby Abreau did the same.

And Eric Wedge fiddled.

Up came Alex Rodriguez representing the winning run. With one walkoff grand slam to his credit already this season, everyone left in Yankee Stadium was now standing.

Except for Eric Wedge, who continued to fiddle.

Borowski threw a wild pitch, then a worse one, a flat fastball right across the heart of the plate. A-Rod swung, sending an A-bomb to center for the victory. With first base open, A-Rod was allowed to swing away and drive a knockout punch out of the park.

Only then did Eric Wedge get up from the spot on the bench to which he'd been Superglued. He had to make his way to the clubhouse. Not once did he go out to talk to his closer. Not once did he send his pitching coach to calm Borowski's nerves. Instead he spent the entire ninth inning acting as if the foul lines were Invisible Fence and he was a collared dog.

He fiddled, and the Tribe's season burned.


1) Yankees 8, Indians 6 (4/19/07) -- Six runs in the bottom of the ninth after the first two were retired.

2) Royals 5, Indians 4 (9/25/05) -- In the bottom of the ninth, Grady Sizemore lost a ball in the sun, and the Royals scored the winning run. The loss sparked the Indians to a final-week record of six losses in seven games, erasing a chance at making the playoffs.

3) Twins 4, Indians 2, 10 innings (8/15/04) -- The surprising Indians had taken the first two of a three-game set for the Twins and needed just one more win to tie for first place. Graybeard Terry Mulholland was all that stood between the Indians and first. And he did, limiting the Tribe to two runs through eight innings. That allowed Corey Koskie to stroke a two-run homer in the 10th inning, giving the Twins the victory and a two-game lead for first. The Indians fell apart, losing nine straight and before two weeks were up, they found themselves eight games out of first.

4) White Sox 3, Indians 2, 13 innings (9/25/05) -- Still with a chance to tie the White Sox for the division title and with the wild card still in hand, the Indians lost to a White Sox lineup featuring Brian Anderson in center, Ross Gload at first, Joe Borchard batting cleanup, Timo Perez in right, Chris Widger behind the plate, Geoff Blum at short, and Willie Harris at second. Two days later Ozzie gave Tribe fans the choke sign.

5) Royals sweep Tribe (5/8/06 - 5/10/06) -- With high hopes heading into the season, the Indians found themselves 17-15 and 5.5 games out of first place. A visit to Kansas City, which held the worst record in the league, looked like the prescription for the Indians pain. Instead, the Royals swept the Tribe to start a six-game losing streak. The Indians never recovered.

6) Rain 1, Indians 0 (4/14/02) -- Mark Shapiro expected the Indians to "contend while rebuilding." Everyone laughed, but the Tribe amazed with an 11-1 start to the season. An exciting victory over the Royals with six runs coming in the final two innings for an 8-7 win was the 11th. Then the Tribe was rained out a Sunday. With Monday an off day, the Tribe's momentum was stopped cold. They lost 15 of their next 17 en route to a 74-88 record.

No comments: