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Indians welcome 'Rally Squirrel'
08/25/2004 11:26 PM ET
CLEVELAND -- Call the squirrel a lucky charm. Call it a streak-buster. Call it what you might like, but the Indians are calling the darn squirrel that disrupted the Indians-Yankees game Wednesday night at The Jake a welcome distraction.

But manager Eric Wedge might be more than willing to give the squirrel free reign Thursday of the landscape at The Jake if it would bring his Indians, a team that had been riding a nine-game losing streak, some more good luck.

"That's what Omar (Vizquel) was saying," Wedge said, smiling. "I don't think I've ever seen a squirrel hang out for an entire ballgame, have you?"

No, was the consensus. But who in the Indians clubhouse was looking for a consensus when wins had been so scarce for the Tribe the past week? What the Indians were looking for was some help -- from anything or from anywhere.

"The Angels have the 'Rally Monkey'; we have the 'Rally Squirrel,' " said Coco Crisp, whose RBI bunt single knocked in the go-ahead run in the Tribe's 4-3 victory. "We had to try something new."

Indeed the Indians did. They tried small ball; they tried using good pitching; they tried playing great defense. They did bits and pieces of each of these things during a losing streak that seemed to have a life of its own.

The streak had cost the Tribe seven games in the AL Central standings, and it was forcing the Indians fans to start thinking about 2005 since 2004 had turned into the nightmare on East Ninth Street.

But the "Rally Squirrel" might have come to the team's rescue, even if its arrival might have been happenstance and nothing more. Whatever it was, don't think the Indians didn't appreciate its help.

"We had a guy in the stands coaching it," the energetic Crisp said. "He was telling him to run after (Derek) Jeter, run after A-Rod. He did a pretty good job."

While the Yankees were rallying in the seventh, the squirrel made its way behind the plate, bringing Jeter's at-bat to a halt. The scoreboard flashed a photo of the squirrel, only a tiny Indians jersey had been super-imposed on the animal's chest.

"He didn't get in the way too much," Jeter said with a smile, "except for when I was hitting."

"I'm sure he was scared," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I noticed he kept running away from [Gary] Sheffield."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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