BOSTON — Uh-oh.
That was undoubtedly the sentiment of Indians players and Clevelanders back home as J.D Drew’s drive off Fausto Carmona in the first inning Saturday sailed over the center-field wall at Fenway Park for a grand slam.
It was the fourth of many runs for Boston, which made it quick but far from painless for the Indians in a 12-2 beating in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
Cleveland, which appeared to be on the verge of putting Boston away when it won three of the first four games of the series, will now fight to keep its season alive in Game 7 tonight.
“It seemed like we were down 8-1 right off the bat,” said Indians third baseman Casey Blake, whose team trailed 10-1 after three innings. “Erasing that kind of deficit, it’s tough.
“What happened the last couple games has to roll off our backs. We just have to go out, relax and play tonight. There’s no sense sitting here and dwelling on what happened in the past. We’ve got to have a warrior mentality.”
Another un-warrior like outing from one of their top two starters spelled defeat again for Cleveland, which had the opportunity to clinch the series with C.C. Sabathia on the mound for Game 5 in Cleveland, and again with phenom Fausto Carmona this time around.
Failing to clinch a postseason series is nothing new for the Indians, who fell to 1-8 with the chance to end a playoff series — 0-4 against the Red Sox, dating back to the 1999 ALDS when Boston won three straight after dropping the opening two games.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox continued to thrive with their backs to the wall, winning for the sixth straight time in an elimination game — nine of 11. Boston, which rallied from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS before going on to win its first world championship since 1918, is now 23-11 all-time in elimination games.
It was over early for the Indians.
With chants of “Fau-sto, Fau-sto” echoing from the Fenway Park rafters, Carmona felt the heat from the start, throwing 36 pitches and allowing four runs on Drew’s slam in his first inning of work.
Never in sync, the same style he brought to the mound in his first ALCS start, Carmona was gone before recording an out in Boston’s six-run third inning, allowing seven runs on six hits and four walks through two-plus.
Rafael Perez relieved Carmona in the third, allowing the last three runs in the inning, as Boston took control.
“I’m really disappointed,” Carmona said. “I didn’t have luck on my side.”
“We saw some of the same of what we saw before (from Carmona) in this series,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “It just wasn’t in the cards for us.”
The Red Sox got a decidedly different outing from their starting pitcher, storied playoff producer Curt Schilling.
A sign at Fenway Park read “Where there’s a Schill there’s a way,” and it rang true, with the veteran right-hander taking advantage of the whopping lead to cruise through seven innings, while allowing two runs on six hits and striking out five.
Schilling, whom the Indians roughed up in his Game 2 start against Carmona, improved to 10-2 with a 2.25 ERA in the playoffs. Schilling has not lost in five postseason starts with his team facing elimination.
“He really, really pitched like the guy we needed,” said Boston manager Terry Francona. “I don’t know if he had his best fastball tonight, but he located it very well and really used his off-speed stuff effectively.”
The night began ominously for Schilling when Grady Sizemore’s drive to right on the third pitch of the game sailed just to the right of the foul pole. But after allowing a solo homer to Victor Martinez to lead off the second inning, Schilling didn’t surrender another run and just four hits until Cleveland got its last run in the seventh.
He left to a rousing ovation from an appreciative Fenway Park crowd, tipping his hat twice to them before disappearing into the dugout.
“We scored 10 runs. This was about the offense tonight,” Schilling said.
Though Carmona labored through the first inning, he appeared to be en route to getting out of the unsavory spot without a run crossing the plate.
A pair of grounders from Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis found spots for infield singles, with David Ortiz walking to load the bases. Carmona struck out Manny Ramirez and got Mike Lowell to pop to shallow right with the bases still full.
Drew took a borderline pitch from Carmona to make it 3-1 before connecting and sending a liner just over the 17-foot wall in center.
Wedge, who was shown in the dugout voicing his displeasure with home plate umpire Dana DeMuth during the inning, had a heated exchange with the ump between innings.
“Obviously we had some issues early on,” Wedge said.
Martinez took it a bit further.
“The umpire really had a tough game,” Martinez said. “I told him he missed a lot of pitches that could’ve changed the game. The bottom line is we didn’t do the job.”
Surprisingly enough, Boston did not get its production from David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, with the duo combining to go 1-for-6 with one RBI. It was the foursome of Pedroia, Youkilis, Mike Lowell and Drew, which combined to go 10-17 with seven RBIs and seven runs. Drew drove in five in a 3-for-5 performance.
Cleveland’s Travis Hafner continued to scuffle, going hitless in four trips to the plate, while striking out twice. He is 0-for-15 in the last four games with nine strikeouts.
It may sound surprising, but it’s the Indians’ backs that are against the wall, with the deciding game in a hostile environment with the season on the line.
“This is a baseball game,” Martinez said. “Anything can happen. If not, we’d just pack up our suitcases and go home.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.