CLEVELAND — History can wait. Well, at least for now.
When the Indians beat Boston 13-6 in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, they avoided an uphill battle few teams have won.
With the victory, Cleveland was able to earn a split at Fenway Park, and that’s big considering what happens to teams that go down 0-2 in an LCS.
Since 1985, 17 teams have lost the first two games. Only the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals in ’85 and the Red Sox in 2004 survived to reach the World Series.
That’s a fact not lost on anyone wearing the Chief Wahoo logo as the Indians prepare for Game 3 tonight.
“You know that it’s not the end of the world if you go down 0-2,” Indians first baseman Ryan Garko said. “You just say, ‘Hey, we need to come home and take care of business.’ But you also know you have to be pretty much perfect when you’re down 0-2.
“I think we’re all kind of able to exhale, take a deep breath and get ready for these games and just go about our normal work, rather than every pitch being a do-or-die spot.”
The Indians, who landed in Cleveland at 6:30 Sunday morning, feel even better about their chances considering they didn’t exactly get great performances from their top two pitchers.
Much was made of C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona facing a stacked Red Sox lineup. Neither fared well as Sabathia gave up eight runs in 41/3 innings and Carmona lasting just four in a four-run nightmare.
Carmona got off the hook, however, as Jensen Lewis, Rafael Betancourt, Tom Mastny and Joe Borowski closed out the final 6 2/3 innings of Saturday’s 11-inning affair without giving up a run.
“It was collectively an effort,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “C.C. and Fausto, they compete. They’re warriors on the mound, but I felt Boston did a great job of making them work, trying to get them on the plate.
“The bullpen really stepped up and gave us a chance to keep on playing. It’s so tough to win extra-inning games on the road. You’ve basically got to get six outs to their three once you get into extra innings.”
Especially in Boston, where the Red Sox had never lost a postseason game that went past nine innings.
That brings the series back to Cleveland, where Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12, 4.40 ERA) and Jake Westbrook (6-9, 4.32) take center stage in a pivotal Game 3.
Neither pitcher looked good in their postseason debut in the American League Division Series.
Matsuzaka took a no-decision in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, going just 4 2/3 innings, while allowing three runs and seven hits.
Westbrook was the pitcher of record in an 8-4 Game 3 loss to the New York Yankees. He lasted five innings, giving up six runs and nine hits.
But tonight brings a new game with two pitchers who feel a little more comfortable in the limelight.
“Having one under my belt, especially in Yankee Stadium, it was a lot of emotion,” Westbrook said. “There were a lot of different feelings that I’m not used to. It’s going to be a lot better pitching here in front of our home fans. I’m excited and ready to go.”
The Red Sox, who lost their first postseason game since Game 3 of the ALDS in 2005 and boast a 6-3 mark against the Indians this year, are feeling confident, too.
“A loss is just a loss,” Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “No matter if it’s by two runs or seven runs. It’s a 1-1 series and we’ve got to win three more games.
“Just because we lost a game doesn’t mean we’re going to push the panic button.”