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10/17/07 1:55 AM ET
Byrd gives Tribe starters another clinic
With no walks, two runs over five-plus, vet 2-0 in postseason
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- On Tuesday night, Paul Byrd did exactly what he said he would so. He went right after the Boston Red Sox every step of the way. The Indians can only hope that C.C. Sabathia was watching. "I'm just going to go after them and trust my stuff," Sabathia said afterward. "Go out and pound the zone." Turns out he was paying attention, just as Byrd was watching Jake Westbrook on Monday. It may not be a foolproof formula, but it seems to be working right now as Byrd pitched five scoreless innings that set up a seven-run outburst from his team's offense in the bottom of the fifth and carried the Indians to a 7-3 victory over the Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. Byrd has been the Indians' No. 4 starter this postseason but he has been the one others could look to for an example, as he is now 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two starts against the Yankees and the Red Sox. "This is the second time he has stepped up and did exactly what we needed him to do," third baseman Casey Blake said. "He's probably -- at least in my eyes -- he's the MVP of our team right now just because when we needed a big ballgame out of somebody, he stepped up. And Jake last night, too. But Byrdie is kind of the unsung hero." Byrd served notice right away that he might have something special going when he threw a 91-mph fastball by David Ortiz for strike three to end the first inning. That was the first of four Byrd strikeouts in five innings, but the most important lesson that he taught anybody who was watching is that he did not walk one batter. "My goal going in was to move the ball in and out; inside part of the plate, outside part of the plate," Byrd said. "I think sometimes [the Red Sox] can scare people [to] shy away from throwing the ball in, thinking they're going to hit another home run. So that was my goal going in, was to move the ball in and out. "I didn't really expect to strike anybody out. I was hoping to jam some people. I had a good fastball. I hit 90 miles an hour, which happens a few times a year. I high-fived a couple of guys in the dugout and said, 'Hey, pick me up here, I just hit 90.'" The Indians didn't pick up Byrd right away. They had their own troubles against Tim Wakefield, who allowed just one hit through four innings. But Byrd matched him pitch for pitch and did him one better with a scoreless fifth inning.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.