Outburst puts Tribe one win from Series
Seven-run fifth inning helps Byrd earn Game 4 win over Boston
CLEVELAND -- This Indians' story, remember, does not begin here in the present tense, in the pomp and circumstance of October baseball and the national spotlight that comes with it.It has short-season A ball roots at Mahoning Valley, where Victor Martinez and C.C. Sabathia were teammates in 1999. It harkens back to the days when Jhonny Peralta, Fausto Carmona and Rafael Betancourt weren't postseason studs, but rather non-drafted free agents. It is borne out of the lessons learned in the trauma of a 94-loss season in 2003 and the tease of a 93-win season in 2005 that fell short of a playoff berth. It is the tale of a group of young players who not only share a locker room but also a common thread of Minor and Major League experiences that got them where they are today. And where they are today, specifically, is a lone win away from the organization's first World Series appearance in a decade. A 7-3 victory over the Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at a sold-out Jacobs Field on Tuesday night has the Indians holding a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven slate and on the doorstep of the dreamland. "It means a lot to every single person here in this room," Martinez said. "We came up from a long way, and to be in this spot right now is amazing. You look three or four years ago, and pretty much the same guys in this room were rookies." Well, they weren't all rookies, and they weren't all here. Paul Byrd, for example, is one of the Tribe's veteran hired hands, brought aboard in the midst of the journey to add some experience to the youthful unit. It was experience that revealed itself once again in five-plus innings of work in which Byrd successfully tamed a dangerous Red Sox lineup. The Indians' bats also looked pretty tame early on in this one, until they awoke with a seven-run fifth inning off an unsuspecting Tim Wakefield and Manny Delcarmen. A club getting assertive outings from its Nos. 3 and 4 pitchers, as the Indians have the past two nights from Jake Westbrook and Byrd, and getting big hits up and down the lineup -- as the Tribe did on this night from Martinez, Peralta, Casey Blake and Asdrubal Cabrera, among others -- can authoritatively be described as a club that's clicking. And talk about good timing. Only 10 of the 65 teams in postseason history who have taken a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven set have gone on to lose that series, so the past and the present are on the Tribe's side. "It's not just one player," Martinez said of the Indians' postseason charge. "Every night, it's a different player. That's what makes this team really exciting. We expect anything from anybody." A team never quite knows what to expect when a knuckleballer like Wakefield takes the mound. And for four innings, the only thing that came to be expected were the zeros Wakefield and Byrd were quickly stringing up on the scoreboard.
Long odds for Red Sox
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.