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10/05/07 1:04 AM ET
Tribe on verge of something big
Game 2 win over Yanks would put Indians in driver's seat
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians are on the precipice of doing some damage in their American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. Win Game 2 on Friday at Jacobs Field and they will be hard pressed to lose three straight to the Bombers even with Games 3 and 4 in New York.
"I don't look at things in those regards," Indians manager Eric Wedge said on Thursday night, his team's first win in the books. "When I work my thought process through, it's more specific. It's about what we need to do tomorrow to prepare. We've got to turn the page and do some work tonight and prepare tomorrow and just make sure that these guys come out and take the same approach to the game they've been doing for quite a while now."
The Indians made a statement on Thursday evening with their 12-3 trouncing of the Yanks at Jacobs Field, but they've been making a statement all season as a relatively young and unknown team. Right now, they join the Diamondbacks and Rockies as the three most unlikely teams to be wreaking havoc in the postseason.
And if those three teams move forward into the second round, their combined payrolls of $161 million are about $40 million less than the Yankees.
The Indians have been doing it all season with a team-aspect approach and Thursday night, their 14 hits and 12 runs were pretty well-distributed throughout the lineup.
On Friday, they send their other 19-game winner, right-hander Fausto Carmona, to the mound against veteran Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte. If you check your record book that's the 35th postseason start for Pettitte against the first for Carmona, who came into the season as a reliever.
The Dodgers used to call it coconut picking -- moving a player from one position to another until establishing the right mix. The Indians, under general manager Mark Shapiro, have used that old philosophy to get the most out of a roster that cost $61.6 million this season as opposed to New York's $200 million.
The Rockies, by the way, are at $54.4 million and the Diamondbacks are at $52 million.
"There's a magnitude to these accomplishments and there's a lot to be proud of," Shapiro said before the game. "In the end, if you look too close at your payroll, you allow it to be an excuse for your organization, your front office. You don't get a division title or a playoff berth with a little asterisk next to it saying you have a small payroll. We've got to go out there when the game starts like every other team and compete."
They've done it this year with mostly homegrown talent as well as retrieving Kenny Lofton for the stretch run. The seemingly ageless outfielder had a 3-for-4 Game 1 with a double, four RBIs and his 33rd postseason stolen base, tying Rickey Henderson for the most ever in that department.
"Yeah, it was a little special," said Lofton, 40, who last played a playoff game for the Indians in 2001. "I think the fans still remember me in '95 and all the years that I played in the playoffs here and know the effort that I give all the time. I go out give 110 percent. I think the fans recognize that. The fans are all excited and getting fired up about what's going on. This city needs a championship."
They're on the edge right now. And can get a little closer with a Game 2 victory over the mighty Yanks.