All eyes on the Bronx for Game 4
Yanks aim to even series, while Tribe tries to advance
NEW YORK -- And now it's a series.The Yankees and Indians will play Game 4 of their American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on Monday at 7:37 p.m. ET, and the baseball world will be watching. With the other three Division Series completed in the minimum three games, it's the only playoff baseball left on tap until later in the week. And what a game it should be. A win for the Yankees will send the series back to Cleveland's Jacobs Field for a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday. An Indians victory will send them to Boston for the opening of the AL Championship Series on Friday night against the Red Sox. "Any club that's in the postseason certainly is capable of winning three games in a row," said Yankees manager Joe Torre after his team came back from a 3-0 deficit in Game 3 on Sunday to win, 8-4, and pull within 2-1 in the best-of-five series. "But we have to make sure that we still stay focused on what we need to do [Monday]. We get a chance to come back [Monday] and win a ballgame and build more momentum. We understand if we win [Monday], we have to go back over to Cleveland. And we don't have a good memory of what happened over there. So we have to make sure that we don't get too far ahead of ourselves." The penultimate game of the series will pit Chien-Ming Wang, the Yanks' ravaged Game 1 starter on three days' rest, against Paul Byrd, Cleveland's No. 4 starter, but a 15-game regular-season winner. With Wang starting, the Yanks lost the first game, 12-3, and were beaten, 2-1, in 11 innings in Game 2 when a swarm of gnats descended on the Jake from Lake Erie in the eighth inning and caused rookie Joba Chamberlain to lose his composure. The Yanks also were held to three hits in the game by starter Fausto Carmona and reliever Rafael Perez. On Sunday, the day began with Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner threatening to dismiss Torre if the Yankees didn't win the series. The Indians then built a 3-0 lead against Roger Clemens, who, looking every bit his 45 years of age, had to leave the game in the third inning because of a strained left hamstring. When things appeared dire for the Yankees, Johnny Damon came through, driving in four runs with a single and a fifth-inning, three-run homer off Tribe starter Jack Westbrook that gave the Yanks the lead for good.
"Today was huge because it gives us another day of life," said Damon, who has now homered twice in the series. "I know we're going to be coming with our best game [Monday]. So we hope to get back to Cleveland. We hope to keep playing for Joe. And there are a lot of things that we need to be proud of."Torre moved up Wang and now has veteran 14-game postseason winner Andy Pettitte in reserve to start on Wednesday night. Cleveland manager Eric Wedge could have gone with 19-game winner C.C. Sabathia in Game 4 and Carmona, his second 19-game winner in Game 5, if necessary. But instead he opted to stick with Byrd and Sabathia for the possible finale.
"I'm kind of like a little gun," Byrd said about making the big start. "No, I'm just kidding. We had two Cy Young [Award] candidates and then Jake and myself. I think Wedgie went with some matchups. I'm excited to get the start [Monday]. I'm looking forward to it. There's a great atmosphere in Yankee Stadium. It's a great place to pitch. And I'll be excited to take the mound."
Short rest in Game 4 of DS since Wild Card
The Yanks are only one of four teams to come back from an 0-2 deficit since the Division Series was unveiled for the first time in 1995. They did it in 2001, when they lost the first two games of the ALDS at home to the A's, but came back to win two games in Oakland and the finale in New York. Game 3, a 1-0 Yanks win, turned in the seventh inning on the famous back-handed flip play when Yanks shortstop Derek Jeter nailed Jeremy Giambi standing up at home plate.And Wedge knows that the old Stadium in the South Bronx will again be rocking on Monday. "There's always a lot of excitement here," he said. "A little bit more, obviously, in the playoffs. I mean, it's that time of the year. I think our guys did a good job of handling it, but I don't think we played particularly well today. We opened up some doors and gave them some opportunities." The opportunity is there now for all of the baseball-loving world. The Yanks must win to survive. The Indians must win to move on. It's the postseason, and on Monday night, it will be one-stop shopping.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.