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Cleveland Indians Playoff History: The midges game

We continue our look back at the greatest playoff games in Cleveland Indians history. This one is the game that made a bug famous.

The New York Yankees are just the kind of team I like to see lose. And the more embarrassing or awful way, the better.

No one will ever accuse me of being a Boston Red Sox fan, but I did smile a little bit when the Yankees lost (in 2004) to the Sox after leading the series three games to zero.

It wasn’t quite as big of a smile as the one that hit my face on August 31, 2004 when Omar Vizquel got six hits in a 22-0 Cleveland Indians win at Yankee Stadium, but it was close.

Still, my bloodlust for awful Yankees losses was not quenched.

That’s what made Games 1 and 2 of the 2007 ALDS so satisfying.

In Game 1, Chien-Ming Wang started, and got beaten. Badly. The Tribe scored three in the first, one in the third and five in the fifth on their way to a very nice 12-3 butt whipping. Asdrubal Cabrera, Ryan Garko, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez all did some yard work.

I couldn’t imagine a better way to beat the Yankees. Then came Game 2.

Game 2 was played on October 5, 2007, the tenth anniversary of Sandy Alomar’s home run off Mariano Rivera. (Yeah, that game is yet to come).

Fausto Carmona (as he was known at the time) started for the Tribe. He made one mistake, a solo home run to Melky Cabrera in the third.

Andy Pettitte scattered seven hits in a little over six innings of work. Five times the Indians started a Pettitte inning with a base runner, including a Jason Michaels double to start the third and a Grady Sizemore triple to start the sixth. None of those runners scored.

In the seventh the Indians had men on first and second with one out. The Yankees decided that Pettitte was out of magic, so they called on Joba Chamberlain to protect the 1-0 lead.

At age 21, Chamberlain had ascended to set up man for Mariano Rivera. In 24 innings of work he gave up 12 hits, walked six, struck out 30 and gave up exactly one earned run.

In the seventh he lived up to his numbers, retiring Franklin Gutierrez on a strike out and Casey Blake on a flyball to right.

When Joba came out in the eighth he wasn’t alone. He was joined by midges. Midges are biting bugs that come in from Lake Erie three times a year (or four if it’s a warm October). They aren’t a sweat bee, but they work the same way. They find some sweat, and bite.

Joba was sweating. And apparently yummy.

The Yankees came out and sprayed Joba, re-sprayed him, sprayed him even more with Off bug spray. This worked really well. For the Indians. It turns out that midges like Off. Avon Skin So Soft works better.

I’m not sure why but there was only one team using the Avon product. The home team, who gets hit with midges three times a year (four if it’s a warm October) knew better.

Between all the sweating and spraying and biting Chamberlain gave up a walk, a wild pitch, a sacrifice bunt and another wild pitch. Tie game.

In the bottom of the 12th Kenny Lofton walked, Goot singled him to second, Blake sacrificed, Sizemore was intentionally walked, Asdrubal Cabrera popped up and Travis Hafner sent the home fans home happy with a single.

Indians 2, Yankees 1.

After the game George Steinbrenner complained and asked MLB to launch an investigation.

Right. Because the Indians somehow came up with a way to lure midges in from the lake.  Some sort of Batman-type of signal. Well, maybe a midge-man type of signal.

During moments like this I wished Seinfeld was still on the air. But then again, what could they have done to make Steinbrenner look more stupid than demanding a bug swarm investigation?  “Investigate those bugs Costanza!  Do it now!”

The Yankees won Game 3, but that was just a dead cat bouncing. The Indians, once again facing our old friend Chien-Ming Wang, brought out the heavy artillery. Wang was gone in less than two innings, and the Yankees were gone a little over seven innings later. Tribe 6, Yankees 4.

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Next: Playoff History: First WS Game 1 Win in 98 Years

Game 4 was Joe Torre‘s last as a Yankee manager. He was let go in favor of Joe Girardi after the season.

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