April 17, 2014

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Tribe notes: Wedge downplays Game 1 flop

BOSTON — The Indians are hoping their Game 1 performance was an aberration. If it wasn’t, this could be a brief ALCS.
Cleveland stumbled out of the gates and lost 10-3 in the opening game Friday night, coming up short in all facets of the game. It’s not the kind of effort to bring to a playoff showdown with the power-packed Boston Red Sox.
“It’s not like we played bad,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “We just didn’t do anything. We didn’t hit. We didn’t pitch.”
Cleveland’s offense was subdued by an effective outing from Boston ace Josh Beckett, who allowed just two runs over seven innings, while striking out seven. Beckett was especially hard on the Indians’ catalyst, leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore. Sizemore went hitless in three trips against Beckett, striking out twice — three times in the game.
“He was a little bit off,” Wedge said of Sizemore. “I think it’s fair to say we were a little bit off as a ballclub.”
That included C.C. Sabathia, who offered up his second straight subpar postseason performance, lasting just 41/3 innings, while allowing eight runs on seven hits and five walks.
Of course, if Boston’s David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez continue on their current postseason pace, it might not matter what Cleveland does.
The duo, which became the first pair in postseason history to reach base in all 10 of their Game 1 plate appearances, entered Saturday reaching base a combined 29 times in 36 at-bats through four playoff games. Ortiz hit .778 (7-for-9) with two homers and three RBIs through four games, while Ramirez was at .500 (5-for-10) with two homers and seven RBIs.
Cleveland pitchers did not challenge either in the Game 1 loss.  
“What they’re doing right now is pretty incredible,” Wedge said of the Boston duo, which walked five times in Game 1. “There are points in time when we have to be careful, but I think (Friday) night we were a little too much so.”

No big deal

There was one Indian that didn’t think Beckett was all that special, Kenny Lofton, who went 2-for-4 in Game 1, with a double in two trips to the plate off the right-hander. In his first at-bat off Boston’s ace he was robbed of extra bases by former teammate Manny Ramirez.
When asked if Beckett was as dominating as he looked, Lofton said: “To me, no. I got a hard double off the wall. If I struck out three times, then I could say yeah, but that didn’t happen to me, so what do you want me to say? It’s hard for me to talk about other people.”
The other people, Lofton’s teammates, combined to go 4-for-17 with seven strikeouts against Beckett.

No-fault zone

Wedge let right fielder Franklin Gutierrez off the hook for failing to make a play on a ball hit by Mike Lowell that appeared to be catchable but dropped for a two-run double in the third inning. It looked like Gutierrez pulled up on the ball.
“It was a tough ball, kind of in between,” Wedge said. “Right field here is tough. There’s a lot of territory.”

Body by Jake

Jake Westbrook will start Game 3 on Monday night against Daisuke Matsuzaka. The start comes on the heels of a poor performance — six earned runs in five innings — in Cleveland’s only division series loss to New York in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.
“Jake does a pretty good job of making adjustments,” Wedge said. “I think he’ll be fine.”

The numbers game

In 37 previous AL Championship Series, the team winning Game 1 went on to win the series 22 times (60 percent). In five of the last seven, the team that lost the opener went on to win the series.
Since the advent of the best-of-seven series in 1985, 17 teams have led the ALCS 2-0, with all but three advancing to the World Series.
In each of the Indians’ three ALCS appearances, Cleveland dropped the first game but went on to win the second — all on the road.

Roundin’ third

At .421 (8-for-19), shortstop Jhonny Peralta entered Saturday as Cleveland’s leading postseason hitter among players that have played at least four games.
The Indians return to Jacobs Field today but will not work out. Boston will take the field.
The Red Sox entered Saturday having outscored their opponents 29-7 in four postseason games.
Massachusetts senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry was in attendance Saturday.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.