clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Game One Hundred Sixty-Four: Indians 2, Yankees 1 (11 Innings)

Indians lead series 2-0

Box Score
Win Probability Added @ Fangraphs

Highest WPA:

Fausto Carmona .461
Rafael Perez .286
Grady Sizemore .285
Chironomous plumosus .001

Lowest WPA:

Asdrubal Cabrera -.341
Jhonny Peralta -.183
Casey Blake -.176

In April, unseasonably cold weather canceled a four-game series and forced the Indians to play four fewer games at Jacobs Field than scheduled. In October, unseasonably warm weather and no wind brought a swarm of midges to Jacobs Field, where it just so happened that an important game was taking place.

But before I delve into what this game will be known for, let's take a look at what Fausto Carmona did against the best offense in baseball:

9.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 SO, 113 Pitches

It's unfortunate that posterity will concentrate on the winged invaders that distracted Joba Chamberlain on his way to a Hall of Fame career while ignoring the great (and I rarely use that word) pitching performance on the other side of the ledger. Carmona had to pitch six innings knowing that any further runs he gave up might mean a loss for the Indians. His last pitch in the ninth inning came on a full count to Alex Rodriguez with a runner on second. It was a dominating performance, certainly the best I've seen from an Indians pitcher in the playoffs.

While Fausto was pitching the game of his life, Andy Pettitte was channeling Charles Nagy, the 1997 ALCS version. In 1997, Nagy matched Mike Mussina inning-for-inning, but while Mussina almost effortlessly shut down the Indians, Nagy had a jam an inning to contend with. So it was with Pettitte last night; the Indians had a runner in scoring position in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, the sixth inning being the best opportunity with a leadoff triple by Grady Sizemore.

A combination of Pettitte (and Yankee relievers) making pitches and Indians hitters having terrible at-bats contributed to Cleveland hitting an awful 2-for-18 with RISP. The first hit (by Kenny Lofton, in the second) was nullified by Jhonny Peralta getting thrown out by Melky Cabrera. The second came in the 11th inning, a two-out, bases loaded, game-winning single by Travis Hafner. Between the two hits, the Indians went 0-for-16 with RISP. This was a game they should have won much earlier.

Now, the midges. They apparently don't bite, and they were gone a couple innings after they arrived, but Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees' phenom, happened to be pitching at the height of the swarm. Chamberlain did not pin his wildness on the infestation, to his credit, but that didn't stop other observers from doing so. Tom Verducci of wrote:

Plenty of major league games with far less on the line have been stopped due to bug infestations. I can't believe both the Yankees and Indians didn't argue for a stoppage of play Friday night, but especially New York, when it was obvious that reliever Joba Chamberlain was severely compromised by those conditions. It was no different than playing a game in a deluge. Cleveland's pitching was fabulous, but the Yankees must live with knowing that insects helped cause their defeat. No way that should happen in postseason baseball.

The midges affected everyone, including hitters and infielders, equally. Fausto Carmona was visibly distracted by the bugs, and he didn't have any problems throwing strikes. A delay of 30 or 40 minutes would probably have done more harm than playing through the swarm. Crew chief Bruce Froemming didn't even think about delaying the game:

"It was just a little irritation," he said. "We've had bugs before. I've seen bugs and mosquitoes since I started umpiring. It might not be a perfect scenario. Within about 45 minutes, basically they were gone."

Whichever way the game ended, the losing team was going to feel frustrated: the Indians, for having opportunity after opportunity to drive in the tying or winning run, and the Yankees, for the tiny insects that derailed their bionic reliever. But it was a fantastic game all the same, and one which will stick in both fanbase's memories long after this season ends.

Next Up: Westbrook vs. Clemens, Sunday @ 6:37 PM.