Monday, October 08, 2007

A little Byrdie will tell you

Paul Byrd is not like a box of chocolates. You pretty much know what you're going to get.

And that's got all of Cleveland ready with their collective vomit bags.

Here's what you're going to get with Paul Byrd: an ERA right around league average, lots of hits, few walks, and probably six innings. About as exciting as a loaf of bread.

Problem is if we get what we got from Paul Byrd in his one start against the Yankees on Aug. 11 -- seven runs in two IP -- or what we got from Paul Byrd following his shutout of the White Sox on Sept. 1 -- 22 ER allowed in 30 IP -- then we've got a major problem. If we get September from Paul Byrd, then we've got Game 5 back in Cleveland on Wednesday night, with all of Cleveland remembering every sports disaster we've ever had.

Only four times has a team come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-5 baseball playoff series since the wild-card era began. One of them was these Yankees, against the Oakland A's en route to the 2001 World Series title. Remember the Derek Jeter flip to home plate to nail a non-sliding Jeremy Giambi in the Yanks' 1-0 Game 3 victory? Another of them was the Red Sox, who became the first team to do when they came back against these Indians in the first round in 1999. Remember the 23-7, Game 2 victory for the Red Sox in that series?

The Indians might very well remember it. And that memory might be what led Eric Wedge to stick with Paul Byrd as his starter today instead of going with ace C.C. Sabathia on three days' rest. In that game back in 1999, Bartolo Colon started on three days rest and didn't make it out of the second inning. By the end of three, the Indians were behind 10-2 and were one day away from watching Pedro Martinez stroll out of the bullepn and silence both Jacobs Field and the Indians' bats.

Should C.C. start today it would be only the second time in his career that he went on three days' rest. It's not something he's used to; it's not something the Tribe has practiced all year. Wedge makes his decisions and sticks to them like flypaper.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are turning to Game 1 starter Chien-Ming Wang on three days' rest. Why is the strategy good enough for the goose but not the gander? After all, this is Wang's first start on three days' rest, and he was horrible the first time around in this series.. The Yanks are desperate. Joe Torre's supposedly out the door if New York doesn't make it past this round.

So, Cleveland fans, get ready for your loaf of bread. It's good for you. But the Tribe will need a little bit more than that tonight. Remember, man can't live on bread alone.

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