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This was it. It all came down to this game. On Monday night, the Black Sox and Indians engaged in one of the best baseball games I have ever seen. On Wednesday they would split a doubleheader, forcing this third and final game. The #1 ranked Black Sox were taking on the #2 ranked Indians and this game was nothing short of spectacular.
When we arrived at Muzzy Field, Indians pitcher Anthony Alicki was heading towards the field so Quentin went over to him and told him to have a good game. I like to think that in some small way, Quentin helped the Indians win the championship on this night. While we saw Anthony Alicki pitch on Monday night against the Black Sox, and I knew he hadn’t pitched the night before, there was a strong chance he would pitch tonight but it wasn’t guaranteed. This chance encounter also seemed to make things a bit more foretelling.
While this game was destined for greatness, I’m not sure anyone could have predicted the complete pitching duel this would be as both Anthony Alicki and Kenny Kerski went for most of the game giving up no runs and minimal hits as well. For quite some innings, Kerski had a no hitter going and for quite some time they both had only one hit allowed each. I do believe by the time this game was over, Anthony Alicki would leave with only two hits allowed.
In the very first inning, the Indians caught a Black Sox baserunner off third base and tagged him out. This lead to some disagreements between the umpires and Black Sox players as nearly the entire dug out cleared out and came onto the field to protest. The Indians just handled it like pros. The umpire near the pitcher loved to talk and I’m not sure why he didn’t throw any of the Black Sox out of the game as that was not his only chance to do so.
During the bottom of the first inning the Black Sox coach came onto the field trying to do something- I didn’t hear what- and all I heard was that same umpire tell him “That should have been done before first pitch, you can’t do it now” which lead to one of the Black Sox players in the dug out say something about learning the rule book, to which the ump fired back “I know the rule book!” It was funny how much the umpire took from the players without warning or throwing anyone out, but he also was giving it right back which was somewhat funny. Still, an umpire should not be funny. It takes the focus off of the game and puts it on him.
This game felt like it could go on forever, neither pitcher or team allowing an inch to give up a run and then in the fifth inning the Black Sox did what I learned on Monday that they do best: they intentionally walked on an Indians runner to put a force at the bases. After the Black Sox walked on the Indians’ 42, the Indians’ 1 got a hit which brought in the first run of the game. What kind of strategy is walking someone on base?
They were practically giving them the game (Even though that hit does make for the RBI) But had the Black Sox pitched to Indians’ 42, perhaps he would have struck out and no runs would have come in this inning. Either way, wouldn’t you rather pitch to a batter and have him hit a homerun and make that be the reason you lose the game than intentionally walk him and have him come in by another hitter? It seems like a situation where it’s better to lose because they’re the better team and not because you made poor choices.
Inside of the same fifth inning, the Indians managed another hit to the infield- what they call a fielder’s choice- and the throw went to second base for some reason, for an out, but still allowed for a run to score. Being down two runs is not always a bad thing because it’s not so far down that you can’t come back from it. But during this game- the championships, all or nothing- and the way it was being played, every single run counted and I was surprised that the Black Sox didn’t make that throw to home instead. Even if they felt like they might not have a play there, they should have at least tried.
Going into the seventh inning, the fate of the Black Sox seemed set. But with some hope left in their eyes, they got runners on base and began to battle back. A hit hard towards third was misplayed- it felt like the Indians’ third baseman tried to get rid of it took quickly instead of taking his time with the throw- and it went by the first baseman. On the error, two runs were able to score. The Black Sox fans came alive, as the team felt a little bit of hope left. I thought this game could go another seven innings with the way this unfolded.
The Black Sox were right back to where they were earlier in the game. The Black Sox were right back to where they were on Monday. And the Black Sox, for all of my criticism of them, somehow finished this season in first place so it made it even more questionable to me as to why they would continue to make the same mistakes. The Black Sox intentionally walked Indians’ 42. Again. They got around Indians’ 1, but then Indians’ 34 came up, hit a shot out of the infield on the ground and that third and final run scored. The Indians walked off the game. Something they might have not been able to do without that intentional walk. The Indians walked off the championship.
There is something to be said for this game because it had every element of suspense and drama you could want from baseball. Had the Indians won and had not needed to go to the bottom of the seventh inning, this would have still been a good game, but it wouldn’t have been as good. It’s always more satisfying to see a walk off in the bottom of an inning than having the defense win the game. Had this gone to extra innings, it could have been good- seeing it unfold in a similar manner in an eighth or ninth inning instead. But the way it played out the entire time, right up until the final play, was nothing short of perfect.