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Posted: Wednesday October 17, 2007 3:08PM; Updated: Wednesday October 17, 2007 4:39PM
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Strutting Manny

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Don't be surprised if the American League Championship Series gets a little chippy before somebody -- yeah, probably the Indians -- wins this thing.

Blame Manny being Manny.

The incomparable Manny Ramirez has been up to his enraging self this postseason, and don't think it hasn't been noticed. Back on Oct. 5, the Red Sox slugger slammed a three-run walkoff home run off the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez to win Game 2 of that AL Division Series. He raised his arms at a rowdy Fenway Park that night and stayed in the box, soaking up the cheers, for a good five or six seconds. Only then did he start a slow trot down the line.

In Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday, with his team down 7-2 in the sixth inning, he cranked a long solo home run to center at Jacobs Field off Indians reliever Jensen Lewis. It was a 451-foot beauty, capping an enthralling nine-pitch at-bat. He again stood watching his work, then walked, slowly, for at least a half dozen steps before trotting around the bases, raising one arm to the sky as he made the turn around first.

That kind of showboating is bad form anytime. It's especially bad when it's done on the road and your team is down by a lot of runs in a critical game. After Tuesday's show, a lot of observers expected a little retaliation, in the form of at least a brushback pitch, to head Ramirez's way. It never came.

"If he wants to get excited about one run, in that situation, so be it," Lewis said. "It's just now, I know the full meaning of Manny being Manny."

It was a good call, on Cleveland's part, not to start some kind of beanball battle with the Red Sox over Manny's antics. Call it the "sleeping dogs" strategy.

If the Indians ever get a chance to let Ramirez know that they disapprove, though, you have to believe they're going to take it.

Bottom Lines

The Indians' bullpen has been a huge reason -- maybe the No. 1 reason -- that they are where they are right now. In eight postseason games the 'pen has a 2.10 ERA. Righty Rafael Betancourt has given up two hits in 7 1/3 innings in five postseason appearances. He's struck out seven. And he has yet to give up a run ... Paul Byrd in the postseason has given up 14 hits in 10 innings. Between the two of them, aces C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona have allowed 18 hits in 22 1/3 innings. Byrd is 2-0 in his two starts. Sabathia is 1-1, and Carmona doesn't have a decision ... Ten of the 13 teams in the ALCS to take a 3-1 lead -- that's where the Indians are -- have gone on to the World Series ... Pitching changes aren't the only culprit in stretching out games. It took the Indians 35 minutes to score seven runs in their half of the fifth inning on Monday night ... Ramirez has hit safely in 14 straight LCS games. He's hitting .319 for his career with a .985 OPS in six appearances (17 games) ... Victor Martinez and Asdrubal Cabrera, two switch-hitting starters for the Indians, both decided to bat right-handed against right-handed knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on Monday night. Both went 1 for 3 with both hits coming in the decisive fifth inning.

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