© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/14/07 3:30 AM ET
Tribe's 11th-inning nightcap sets mark
Seven runs the most scored in extra frame of a playoff game
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
BOSTON -- They had to battle and sweat their way through over five tension-filled, heart-pounding hours of suspense, but the Cleveland Indians' Saturday night ended triumphantly with an all-time Major League record and a huge playoff victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Technically, it ended not at night but in the wee hours of Sunday morning, but the Indians brought it to a successful conclusion with seven runs in the 11th inning that gave them a 13-6 victory at Fenway Park and pulled them even in the American League Championship Series at one game apiece.
"That was great," said first baseman Ryan Garko, who had an RBI single in the 11th. "This is what postseason baseball is all about. Every pitch has so much tension, but it was definitely worth it."
A one-out pinch-hit single by Trot Nixon drove home the go-ahead run and appeared to be the biggest hit of the night for the Indians. Perhaps it was, but actually it seemed more of the catalyst that relaxed the Cleveland offense and opened up the deluge.
Before the inning was over, the Indians had set a Major League playoff record for most runs in an extra inning.
"It's always great to win, but especially a game like that," Indians catcher Victor Martinez said. "We had a tough [Game 1] and people were saying blah, blah, blah about our team. But I don't worry about what people say about our team, we just keep grinding and finding a way to win."
Grady Sizemore, who was 0-for-5 in Game 1, started the 11th-inning rally in Game 2 with a one-out single off Red Sox reliever Eric Gagne. That was Sizemore's third hit of the night, to go along with a first-inning double and a fifth-inning home run.
"Last night was tough," Sizemore said. "That was a tough game for me and I wanted to bounce back and put that one behind me, get the team going."
He did, and Gagne then walked Asdrubal Cabrera. That brought up Josh Barfield, who had pinch-run for Travis Hafner in the ninth inning. But Indians manager Eric Wedge sent up Nixon, a left-handed hitter, to pinch-hit.
Nixon, of course, is in his first season with the Indians after spending his entire career with the Red Sox. He was a crowd favorite here and got a standing ovation when he returned with the Indians in May. No such reception awaited him Saturday night.
Instead, Red Sox manager Terry Francona brought in left-handed reliever Javier Lopez. Nixon doesn't generally face many left-handed pitchers, but Wedge stayed with him in that situation.
"Lopez is not a very comfortable at-bat for left-handers, but I felt good," Nixon said. "I was excited to finally get in there at 1:30 in the morning. It was gratifying to me ... for some reason I just felt a calmness there in the batter's box. I think if you can keep your emotions in check in those situations, you've probably got a little bit better chance."
Nixon, who has had to settle for a reserve role behind Franklin Gutierrez the past two months, took ball one, then dropped a single into center field to chase home Sizemore with the go-ahead run.
"I didn't hit it hard, but I hit it where I needed to and I was able to get Grady in there," Nixon said.
"He's the consummate professional," Lopez said. "I know he's going to give me a great at-bat and he's going to battle. He's the one guy you know is going to come into this ballpark and not be intimidated by the surroundings."
The base hit changed everything. The Indians relaxed and the Red Sox crumbled.
"Both teams, I think, had the feeling that the next run was going to win the game," Garko said. "With that hit, though, it kind of took the wind out of the stadium."
Cabrera went to third on the play and, with Martinez at the plate, scored on a wild pitch. Jason Michaels pinch-ran for Nixon and, after Martinez was walked intentionally, scored on a single by Garko.
Jon Lester then replaced Lopez, but the Indians kept coming. A double by Jhonny Peralta brought home another run, and Gutierrez finished it off with a three-run homer to give the Indians a 13-6 lead.
"Our offense feeds off each other," Sizemore said. "We needed to get one run, but to get two and then add onto it ... like I said, we were just feeding off each other and enjoying it."