Thursday, April 30

Go jump in the bay

Announcer: Channel 4 news, with 5-time Emmy award-winner Ron Burgundy, and Tits McGee.
Veronica Corningstone: I'm Veronica Corningstone. Tits McGee is off tonight.
Ron Burgundy: I'm Tits...I'm Ron Burgundy

FCF's own Tits McGee, JHH, is in an undisclosed location, thus the onus to recap the Tribe's disappointing three-game set with the Boston Red Sox falls upon me. This actually works out well, because it fits into a broader theme that I wanted to write about: I hate Boston.

Not to go all Jeff Foxworthy on you, but if TNT shows an entire montage of you committing dirty fouls, and it's only the sixth game of the might be a dirty team. And no, that montage didn't include Ray Allen punching Anderson Varejao in the sack a few weeks ago. These guys are despicable. I can't even stand looking at them, especially Rajon Rondo, who is quickly becoming blatant Bruce Bowen dirty instead of sneaky John Stockton dirty. What does it take for this guy to get punished? He clobbers Brad Miller in the head from behind at the end of Game 5 in what he himself admitted was in no way an attempt to get the ball, then throws Kirk Hinrich to the ground by his arm in Game 6, and escapes with only a personal in the first game and a flagrant-1 in the second. Please. Bill Simmons, ESPN's astute columnist who unfortunately strays into Boston-apologist mode, offered some lame unwritten rule about calling fouls differently in the final 15 seconds of the game to somehow justify an obviously bad call. Chicago fans are booing Rondo every time he gets the ball, and I don't blame them. Turn your headband right-side-up, you dummy. Speaking of headbands, can't they get Brian Scalabrine a green one, or do we need yet another reminder that he's super-white?

As uncomfortable as I remain rooting for the Bulls, I'd love to see them send these thugs in green to an early off-season. If not, our club here in Cleveland will be more than happy to.

I'll get to baseball in a second, but I couldn't help but notice that both the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, my favorite NHL club, have reached the East semis. If Boston advances at Pittsburgh's expense, I might just snap. Boston sucks.

Which brings me back to baseball, and the Indians' exploits against yet another Massachusetts-based sporting organization that I loathe. The Tribe had a solid chance to win every game, but ended up falling in the first game and rubber match, dropping yet another series.

Game 1 was an intense pitcher's duel between Cliff Lee and Boston kunckleballer Tim Wakefield. Lee was of the 2008 vintage tonight, keeping the Red Socks off the scoreboard for 8 innings, allowing just 5 hits and no walks. He was super-sharp. Unfortunately, Wakefield's knuckler was brutal on the Indians' bats, as they mustered only a first-inning single from Victor Martinez in 7 innings. Walks and wild pitches gave them a few scoring oportunities, but nothing materialized, so the game headed to the 9th scoreless. The Red Socks got two baserunners on against Kerry Wood via a walk and cheap hit, and Jason Bay essentially ended the game with a titanic three-run blast. The Indians showed some life, getting an RBI single from Mark DeRosa and putting the tying run on, but Boston's unspeakably offensive idiot of a ninth-inning pitcher eventually closed the door on a 3-1 Boston win.

Game 2 took a decidedly different tone, as the score sat at 7-7 after just three innings. Indians starter Anthony Reyes had absolutely nothing, giving up all 7 runs earned in just two innings of work. Brad Penny was victimized by bad defense in his 2 2/3 innings of work (only 4 of the 7 runs he allowed were earned), as well as a home run off of the left-field foul pole by Ben Francisco.

Both bullpens were stout, each allowing a lone 7th-inning run over innings 3-8. Boston collected theirs via a Julio Lugo RBI single, the Tribe on a Mark DeRosa solo shot. Then, in the 9th, the Indians finally caught some breaks. Boston's half ended on a line drive to second base that easily could have found outfield grass, and the Indians' 9th appeared destined for scorelessness until, with two outs, Boston pitcher Jose Lopez dropped an easy flip from 1st baseman Kevin Youkilis, allowing DeRosa to scamper home with the winning run, as Cleveland triumphed 9-8.

DeRosa was the hitting star in this game; soon after being dropped to the eight spot in the lineup, he showed why he used to be second, collecting four hits, scoring four times, and notching seven total bases. Asdrubal Cabrera and Francisco also had two hits, pacing the Indians' 13-hit attack.

Game 3 was right back to frustration, as they blew an early 5-0 lead and lost 6-5 in 10 innings. Have I mentioned, at any point in this or any other article, how much I despise Boston's sports teams? How about Papelbon? OK, good. The Tribe built their lead on home runs by DeRosa and Kelly Shoppach, the latter of the two-run variety (and both contributing to the FCF fantasy bottom line). Victor Martinez, of all people, contributed the Indians' first triple of the season (the last MLB club to hit one); Asdrubal Cabrera boosted his average to .329 with another pair of hits, and Francisco kept heating up with a hit, three walks, and a stolen base. Fausto Carmona pitched very well, allowing just 2 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Sadly, a DeRosa error in the 8th that led to two unearned Red Sock runs proved to be the Tribe's undoing. Man, every little thing we do wrong this year seems to kill us. The Indians had good chances to tie the game in the 8th (bases loaded) and 10th (Francisco on 2nd via walk and steal); a slumping Grady Sizemore was retired to end both threats, and my dislike of Papelbon somehow went up another notch.

So, good and bad from the series. The good is, obviously, the solid pitching performances from our top two starters and proof that we can compete with the league's best clubs. The bad is, equally obviously, that two losses in three games still sucks. Oh, and bonus good: the FCF team clawed their way up from 10th to 7th place in the Cleveland Sports Blog League.

The weekend sees our Tribe pack their bags for a trip to Detroit, Toronto, and...don't make me type this...Boston. The latter two are quick two-game sets. Here are the pitching matchups as the last-place (8-14) Tribe tries to gain some ground on the 11-10 Tigers:

Friday: Carl Pavano, R (0-3, 9.50) vs Armando Galarraga, R (3-0, 1.85)
Saturday: Aaron Laffey, L (2-0, 2.41) vs Zach Miner, R (2-1, 6.00)
Sunday: Cliff Lee, L (1-3, 3.94) vs Justin Verlander, R (1-2, 6.75)

Go Tribe!

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