Tribe playing Bosox in playoffs for third time in five years
Posted: Tuesday October 05, 1999 12:02 AM
In his last start at Cleveland, Pedro Martinez struck out 14 in seven innings but got a no-decision. Otto Greule Jr./Allsport
CLEVELAND (AP) -- They brawled earlier this season, and recently,
one accused the other of cheating.
The Indians and Red Sox don't particularly like each other, and
this week they'll renew their sometimes testy rivalry in the
For the third time in five years, Boston and Cleveland are
playing in the best-of-5 AL division series. The first-round
playoffs start Wednesday night at Jacobs Field.
The Red Sox will start Pedro Martinez (23-4), baseball's most
dominant player this year, in Game 1 against the Indians, who are
expected to counter with their ace, Bartolo Colon (18-5). Game 2 is
The series seems too close to call. As Cleveland coasted into
October, Boston was driving hard to secure the wild-card berth and
make a run at AL East champ New York.
Perhaps an impartial outsider would be best to make a
"I like Boston as a sleeper," said Toronto's David Wells, who
beat the Indians on Sunday. "They got Pedro. Pedro's the man this
year. It's just something I feel. That's my pick. Boston. They've
had all those years without winning it. Maybe this is their year."
Maybe it's Cleveland's year, too. Even the prospect of facing
Pedro Martinez twice in five games doesn't seem to concern the
Indians, who have had to overcome injuries all year.
"If we could win three straight that would be great, but that's
going to be real hard," Indians catcher Sandy Alomar said. "Game
One is always important. If you can knock out their pitcher right
away, that's good. Every game counts, though. We need to win three.
Whatever three, I don't care."
Winning the first one has been Cleveland's biggest problem the
past few Octobers.
The Indians have lost eight straight playoff openers, last
winning a Game 1 in 1995 when they beat the Red Sox in 13 innings.
Last year, Martinez and the Red Sox got off to a great start,
winning the opener 11-3 before the Indians won three straight to
advance to the ALCS.
Martinez went 2-0 against the Indians during the '99 regular
season, twice beating Colon in tight games. In his last start at
Cleveland, Martinez struck out 14 in seven innings but got a
"We have to beat Pedro, man," said Indians shortstop Omar
Vizquel. "We have to show we can beat him. We beat him before and
we have to do that again. The No. 1 game is always important to
win. It doesn't mean anything if we go the full five games or seven
games. It is just the first step. You want the first step, but it
is more important to take the last step."
The Game 1 pitching matchup is but one of a number of
interesting subplots in this series.
When the teams played at Fenway Park in April, a series of
brushback pitches, the first by Cleveland's Jaret Wright, led to
two bench-clearing incidents.
Then, during Boston's most recent visit to Cleveland last month,
Red Sox manager Jimy Williams requested that a center-field camera
at Jacobs Field be covered up.
Williams and several of Boston's players accused the Indians of
using the camera to steal signs. The Indians found the charge
amusing but the AL took it seriously enough to ask Cleveland to
keep the camera covered and to remove a video monitor behind their
Alomar, for one, says what has happened between the teams before
October is already ancient history.
"All that stuff with Jaret and them earlier this season is
over," Alomar said. "It was over back then. Now it is time to
play postseason baseball. The bottom line is we have to eliminate
mistakes and win games."
The Red Sox got a scare last week when shortstop Nomar
Garciaparra, the AL's leading hitter and an Indians killer this
season, returned to Boston to have his injured right wrist
Garciaparra, hit by a pitch Sept. 25, sat out the Red Sox final
two regular-season games, but said he was set for Wednesday's
"Oh yeah," he said. "I'll be ready."
Garciaparra led the AL with a .357 average, but he was even
tougher on the Indians, batting .451 with five homers and 17 RBIs
in 12 games to help the Red Sox win the season series 8-4.
But Garciaparra knows regular-season records mean nothing now,
and especially against a team with as much postseason experience as
"We've been in the postseason, and we know what they can do,"
he said. "They definitely have a lot of veterans, and they've been
in the postseason before. They know how to win. We played them last
year and they knocked us out. Hopefully, we can turn it around this
year. We know we've got a good series on our hands."
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