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CLEVELAND -- Eric Wedge learned all he needed to know about Joe Borowski on April 19 of this year.
That's right. April 19.
It's generally remembered in Indians' lore as the day Borowski entered the bottom of the ninth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium with a 6-2 lead in the ninth inning, got two quick outs and then, in dizzying fashion, surrendered six runs, the last three of which came on one powerful swing of the bat from Alex Rodriguez.
But Wedge remembers that game for another reason. He remembers how Borowski shrugged off the loss, answered the necessary questions from the media and prepared for that night's trip to Tampa Bay without having any emotional breakdowns.
Borowski went out the next night and preserved a one-run, ninth-inning lead against the Devil Rays.
"You could feel it in the locker room, before we even got on the bus," Wedge said Tuesday, as the Indians began workouts for the American League Division Series against the Yanks. "That's just a great attribute to have, when you're a closer. It shows you what kind of strength he has as a human being, with regard to his mental toughness."
Borowski's going to have to stay mentally tough if he gets another shot at the Yankees this week. They are not exactly an opponent he's had much success against. Their current lineup has a combined average of .379 (11-for-29) against him with four homers, 14 RBIs, a .486 on-base percentage and an .828 slugging percentage.
Given what happened on April 19, Borowski, who didn't face New York in the August series at Jacobs Field, might be viewed as having something to prove against the Yankees.
But he doesn't feel as though that's the case.
"It's the playoffs now," Borowski said. "You throw all that stuff out the window. You go in there and win three games. It doesn't matter how pretty, how nice or how ugly. Just get it done. Whatever happened in the past doesn't matter."
Borowski's recent past, of course, includes an AL-leading 45 saves. He could have collapsed after that early-season blowup in the Bronx. But he's persevered through five losses and eight blown saves.
"He's had a tremendous year," Wedge said. "He's a guy we count on and the guy we want to get the baseball to."
Yes, even against the Yanks.
No news yet:
The Indians are holding off on announcing their postseason roster. It's not due to the Commissioner's Office until 10 a.m. ET Thursday.
"I think we want to wait until Thursday," Wedge said. "I haven't confirmed that with [general manager] Mark [Shapiro] yet, but I think that's what we'll do."
Left-hander Aaron Laffey spoiled part of the surprise by telling reporters after Sunday's game in Kansas City that he is, indeed, on the roster as the long man out of the bullpen. It can safely be assumed he will join starters C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd and relievers Borowski, Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez, Aaron Fultz, Jensen Lewis and Tom Mastny as the 11 pitchers the Indians will carry in the first round.
Laffey was told before his start Sunday that he'd be limited to about 60 pitches in that game so that his arm would be fresh enough to pitch, if needed, in Thursday's Game 1.
"I told him we'll probably hold you at 60 pitches," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "And he said, 'So, five innings, huh?' I said, 'Hey, go for it.' And he threw 58 in five innings. That's one reason he's on [the roster]. He's efficient. He puts the ball on the ground. Even though he's never pitched out of a bullpen, he's a guy you could potentially bring in if they get something going and you need a double-play ball."
Here's the question ...
The last time the Indians faced the Yanks in the postseason was the ALCS in 1998. In Game 3 of that series, who became the first Tribe pitcher to throw a complete game in the postseason since Bob Lemon did so in Game 1 of the '54 World Series?
The Indians could have given Carmona that Sunday start on three days' rest and a limited pitch count so that he'd be on his regular fifth day for his start Friday in Game 2.
"We thought about it," Willis said. "I think the reason we didn't want to go in that direction is because of his workload [a career-high 215 innings] and the number of pitches he's thrown already this year. He's maintained his velocity and everything with -- knock on wood -- no physical problems. But at the same time, we didn't want to risk injury by bringing him back a day-short rest, even though it would have only been 50 or 60 pitches."
In mid-August, the Indians began limiting the number of pitches Carmona threw in his bullpen sessions between starts. He used to throw between 40 and 45 pitches in those sessions, but in the season's final six weeks, he threw 30-33. Willis said Carmona was bumped back up to the higher range for his session at Tuesday's workout.
Work on it:
The Tribe's first of two workouts before the ALDS was standard pregame fare, including batting practice and infield work.
But the team did also hold a pitchers' fielding practice -- something that hasn't been seen since Spring Training. One need only to look at the dreadful precedent the Tigers set in last year's World Series to see why such workouts can be important.
Umpire Bruce Froemming, a 37-year veteran who is retiring after this season, will head the crew for the ALDS. This is Froemming's 24th postseason series. Laz Diaz, Ron Kulpa, Fieldin Culbreth, Gerry Davis and Jim Wolf will round out Froemming's crew. ... Left fielder Kenny Lofton seemed surprised at the number of media in the clubhouse before Tuesday's workout. "What are we talking about here?" he said with a laugh, evoking the NBA's Allen Iverson. "We're talking about practice
!" ... Teammates Ryan Garko and Travis Hafner made an appearance at a live broadcast of WWE's "Raw" from Quicken Loans Arena on Monday night. Hafner, a noted wrestling fan, was pulled into the ring and interviewed on the air.
And the answer is ...
Bartolo Colon gave up just a run on four hits for a complete-game victory in Game 3.
The Yankees will report to town Wednesday, and both clubs will hold a workout Wednesday afternoon at The Jake. The start time for Thursday's Game 1 is 6:30 p.m. ET, with Sabathia opposing right-hander Chien-Ming Wang. Those with tickets are asked to be in their seats 45 minutes prior to the first pitch for pregame festivities. Gates open two hours before the game.