OK, it won't be a sweep.
An epic postseason game turned really ugly in the wee hours this morning, as the old friend Trot Nixon broke a 6-6 tie in the eleventh inning as the Cleveland Indians scored seven runs in the inning and knotted the ALCS at one with a 13-6 win.
It was a night when the starting pitchers didn't last until the fifth, and it would be a battle of the bullpens. Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell both hit homers for the Sox in back-to-back fashion, and Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta both connected for Cleveland.
At first the Red Sox pen did a fine job. Manny Delcarmen gave up a run in the sixth that tied it, but Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin and Jonathan Papelbon shut Cleveland down through the tenth inning. Then, Terry Francona had a tough decision to make. At the time I thought it was the right one.
At Professor Thom's, the overflow crowd generally moaned at the sight of Eric Gagne coming in for the 11th. He started off strong by fanning Casey Blake. But Sizemore singled and he walked Asdrubal Cabrera on four pitches. This left Francona no choice but to go to Javier Lopez to face pinch-hitter Trot Nixon. As everyone knows, Trot has a tough time with lefties (his lifetime average versus southpaws is .218), but jumped on the first pitch and singled in Sizemore.
And it got truly ugly from there. Lopez wound up giving up three runs and Jon Lester gave up a mammoth three-run shot to Franklin Gutierrez to complete the carnage, and send the series back to Cleveland.
And at the bar, as it got ugly in Boston, it nearly got ugly at Thom's too. Two obnoxious Yankee fans (or anti-Red Sox fans) nearly started two fights, as the Red Sox throng was pretty pissed off at the turn of events. They got a "We're Still Playing" chant from us. (I'll never get these idiotic fans. They have their choice of 5,000 bars in Manhattan to watch games like this and not have to worry about Sox fans, and yet some can't resist coming in and making trouble with Red Sox fans, many of whom have had more than a few adult beverages. Fortunately, no punches were thrown in either incident, just some pushing and shoving, and the staff acted quickly to diffuse the trouble.)
I'd also like anyone to give me one good reason why Eric Gagne should be on the World Series roster should the Sox advance. He couldn't resist doing his tightrope act in Game 1, as the Sox led by 7 in the ninth on Friday and he struggled, and last night he began the inferno that led to a full scale five-alarm fire that wound up evening the series. It was clear last night Tito has no faith in him and only went to him in desperation. I only hope we don't see him with a ball in his hand in any kind of close situation in this postseason again.