Tribe in trouble?
Indians vow to shake off 23-7 pummeling by Game 5
Posted: Tuesday October 12, 1999 12:04 AM
Oh, Manny: Cleveland knows this Tribe can't hunt if RBI leader Manny Ramirez doesn't start producing. AP
BOSTON (AP) -- Shocked players picked at their postgame meals as highlights of Sunday's NFL action played on a giant TV screen in the Cleveland Indians' clubhouse.
The Indians were too upset to appreciate the irony: They had just given up more than three touchdowns.
"I don't know what happened," Indians reliever Steve Karsay said. "If you would have told me this would have happened during the season, I would have said, 'No way.' Not with the guys we've got."
It happened, all right. Red Sox 23, Indians 7.
Just 48 hours earlier, Cleveland was looking like it might sweep the AL division series. Now, the Indians are just hoping to survive.
A lost weekend at Fenway Park, capped by Sunday night's disaster at Fenway Park, has set up a decisive fifth game in the AL division series at Jacobs Field.
It's a scenario Cleveland fans couldn't have imagined after the Indians won the first two games over the Red Sox.
Not when Boston ace Pedro Martinez had a bad back.
Not when Nomar Garciaparra's injured wrist kept him out of Game 3.
Not when the New York Yankees were waiting.
But a funny thing happened to Cleveland on the way to the AL championship series. The Indians failed to put away a reeling opponent, and now they're the ones staggering home.
"All those runs they scored tonight don't mean a thing tomorrow," catcher Sandy Alomar said. "It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. But we start over 0-0 and forget about it. Tonight is over already."
The Indians weren't just beaten. They were knocked flat by the kind of offensive assault they're famous for. And even when the Red Sox went up by 13 runs after four innings, they didn't let up.
It was as if they were trying to score enough runs to win both Games 4 and 5 at once.
For a while, the five-time defending AL Central champions looked more like the old Indians. The ones who regularly lost 100 games a year as baseball's sorriest franchise.
Boston's fans rubbed it in, too. In the final innings, they chanted, "Man-ny's hitless" at Indians slugger Manny Ramirez, who drove in 165 runs this year but is 0-for-15 in the series with seven strikeouts.
"Hopefully, they used up all their runs tonight," Karsay said. "Everyone in this clubhouse knows we have a Game 5 still. We've got Charlie Nagy, a big-game pitcher, out there with the ball."
Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove's decision to start ace Bartolo Colon in Game 4 on three days' rest backfired miserably. Colon, so dominant in Game 1 -- eight innings, 11 strikeouts -- never pitched on such short notice in his career.
It showed. He only got three outs.
Colon was wild from the outset. He walked Jose Offerman leading off the first before giving up a two-run homer to John Valentin, who drove in seven runs. Colon retired the next three batters in order, but was battered in the second as the Red Sox held in-game batting practice.
Colon gave up five straight hits, the final one being Jose Offerman's two-run homer that made it 7-2 and forced Hargrove to start using pitchers he had hoped to save for a possible Game 5.
Colon walked to the dugout shell-shocked, as were all the Indians, who after blowing out Boston 11-1 in Game 2 needed just one win to advance to their third straight ALCS and fourth in five years.
"Bartolo didn't have his overpowering fastball," Alomar said. "And he didn't have his breaking ball."
Hargrove said he didn't think the short rest hurt Colon at all.
"Bartolo's a good competitor," Hargrove said. "He's a strong young man. I just think it was one of those nights for him."
The Indians are now counting on Nagy to get them into the next round. Nagy won Game 2, pitching seven strong innings to improve his career mark to 10-1 against Boston, including 3-0 in the postseason.
"It's do or die," Nagy said. "I mean, we win, we go on. We lose, we go home."
Hargrove didn't have much choice in starting Colon. He lost Game 3 starter Dave Burba to injury in the fourth inning on Saturday and had to use Jaret Wright in long relief.
Because Hargrove elected to leave part-time starters Dwight Gooden, Mark Langston and Chris Haney off his roster for this round, Cleveland was left with a bullpen full of relievers.
It will be one of several decisions Hargrove is sure to be second-guessed over, and one he'll be thinking about on the long plane ride home.
"Everything that we threw up there they hit," Hargrove said. "When it came down, it wasn't where we were standing."
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