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Indians Show Who's Boss
"It was Paul Byrd all the way for us," Wedge said. "I mean, he was our Game 4 starter -- and deservingly so. He won 15 games" this season.
Thanks to that decision, and Byrd's ability to pitch out of constant trouble for five innings, the Indians now have Sabathia and Fausto Carmona lined up to start Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS.
The Yankees, meantime, made the opposite choice -- starting the young ace, Chien-Ming Wang, on three days' rest, rather than the veteran, right-hander Mike Mussina. It took only three pitches for Wang to put the Yankees in a 1-0 hole, after Indians leadoff man Grady Sizemore homered, and the Yankees wound up turning to Mussina after all -- in relief.
The sum of Wang's output Monday night: Nine batters, three outs, four earned runs.
The early hole seemed a microcosm of the Yankees' season, which began with 29 losses in their first 50 games, then slowly turned around and produced the best record in baseball in the second half.
But there would be no successful rescue this time. Mussina gave up two more runs in the fourth, on Victor Martinez's bases-loaded single, and the Yankees continued to squander opportunities against Byrd and the Indians' bullpen.
And just like that, it was the ninth, and Borowski was on the scene, and Yankees catcher Jorge Posada -- himself a pending free agent -- was waving at strike three, ending the game, the Yankees' season, perhaps a career or two and an entire era. As the Indians flooded the field, Torre turned and led his troops up the tunnel to their clubhouse, and into the unknown.