Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jobu Voodoo

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re gonna need more pies.

Casey Blake capped off an electrifying comeback with a signature walk-off homer into the left field bleachers Monday night. Blake crushed a 1-2 pitch from Zach Miner to the one place Magglio Ordonez couldn’t rob him of another hit: out of the park. I think it’s safe to say that the 11 inning, three and a half hour epic sits near the top of the list for greatest games of 2007.

With the win, Cleveland lowered its Magic Number to 7 games and extended its Central Division lead to 5.5 games. They also snapped Detroit’s five game winning streak, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and discovered the reason hot dog buns come in packs of eight (but hot dogs only come in packs of 6). Hey, I told you it was a great game.

Blake was not alone in his heroics, as several members of the team really stepped up their game tonight.

Asdrubal Cabrera set it off by hustling a double off the mini-monster into a triple. AstroCab kicked in the afterburners and careened into third, just ahead of the ball. He had to do a crazy Matrix-style roll away from the tag to get his hand in safely on the slide. Cabrera would come home on a passed ball to draw first blood, collecting 2 H, 1 BB, and 2 R on the night.

Victor Martinez had a quiet night, but contributed a crucial RBI in the 8th, plating Sizemore.

Yet, as awesome as Blake’s homerun was, it wasn’t even the best performance of the night. This was:

2 2 2 3 3 2

That’s impressive.

Simply put, Jhonny Peralta unleashed hell on the unsuspecting Tigers. Cleveland would have had a tough time keeping up with Detroit tonight if it weren’t for Peralta’s career game. Jhonny launched his second homerun of the game off Detroit’s bullpen ace, Zumaya, in the 8th inning. The tater came with a man on and tied the game at 5 all, forcing extra innings.

It’s difficult to describe the crowd’s reaction once the ball came off Peralta’s bat, but I think sonic boom would be appropriate. I don’t think STO’s microphones could even pick up on the decibel levels because the sound just all blended together into a raucous haze after that. Chants of Lets Go, Tribe could be heard throughout the rest of the game as the modest crowd of 28, 825 cheered their team to the finish line.

Hopefully fans don’t forget about Jhonny when they reminisce about the game.

The Tribe has owned Zumaya since he returned from the DL this season, with 6 H, 3 BB, and 6 ER in his 3 appearances against Cleveland. It’s a small sample size, but still fun to read.

I really have to give some dap to Paul Byrd tonight. He may have given up 4 earned runs, but he did go 7.1 innings and left the game with the Tribe in striking distance (down by 3). Paul had stated the importance of this start coming in and pitched with a visible intensity, calling out great plays by the defense and beating the crap out of his glove when things got rocky.

Most of his pitches seemed to have an extra bite to them tonight, resulting in a variety of outs (10-11 groundball-flyball outs) from off-balance batters. A few of the hits he gave up were just over or around the infielders gloves, but he did give up a few hard hits on flat, elevated pitches. He also had to work around errors by Peralta and Michaels that gave Detroit an extra out and a couple undeserved bases in the fourth.

Despite giving up 10 hits to Detroit, the Cobra needed just 101 pitches to go 7.1 innings. Byrd didn’t fool everybody, but he gave the Tribe a shot to win, which is all you can really ask from your fourth starter.

The offense may get all the glory in the box score, but the Tribe’s defense and pitching were outstanding from the fifth inning on. Byrd, Fultz, Borowski and Betancourt combined on 7 shutout innings after a dicey fourth to give the offense a shot at redemption. The quartet allowed just three Tigers to reach base over the last 7 innings of the game.

Byrd showed off his Cobra reflexes by snagging a potential RBI hit as soon as it came off the bat of Rodriguez. The infield combined on two double plays and picked off two baserunners. Shopvac showed off his cannon of an arm all night, converting a poor bunt into a double play ball by nailing the runner advancing to third.

The Tribe dropped an Iron Curtain behind Joe Bo tonight, making up for the defensive miscues that had nearly cost them the game earlier. Cabrera took an elbow to the face from a basestealer after receiving a perfect throw from Shoppach. Peralta followed with a heads-up play to nail the rookie Maybin trying to go 2nd to 3rd on a grounder.

Cleveland may have struggled a bit early on, but produced one of their finest games of the season before it was all over. Tonight was a great showcase of the Tribe’s skills and games like this impact more than just the loss column for an opposing team.

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