NEW YORK -- Overmatched in payroll, but not in perseverance, the Indians toppled the vaunted Yankees and punched their ticket to an American League Championship Series berth against the Red Sox. Behind a patient offensive attack, a bend-but-don't-break start from Paul Byrd and some resolute relief work on Monday night, the Tribe pulled off a captivating, 6-4 victory in Game 4 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. Now, it's on to Boston, where the Indians will open the best-of-seven ALCS on Friday night at Fenway Park. It will be the Tribe's first ALCS appearance since 1998.
"This is what you dream of," center fielder Grady Sizemore said. "When we broke camp, this is where we wanted to be, and we believed we could do it." To beat a Yankees team that had the best record in baseball over the last four months of the season and packs the punch of the most recognizable and robust lineup in the game, the Indians had to believe. And their faith was tested further when the Yankees capitalized on the built-in advantage of their historic ballpark and took Game 3, giving a series that had looked to be in-hand for the Tribe a decidedly different feel. A different feel, that is, for all of three pitches. Because on the third pitch of this game, Sizemore proved the Indians were in no mood to head back to Cleveland for a decisive Game 5. That pitch came out of Chien-Ming Wang's hand, connected with Sizemore's bat and went sailing over the right-center-field wall for a leadoff home run. The Tribe had clearly come to play. "It was an exciting feeling," Sizemore said. "Obviously, I tried to build some momentum early. You want to jump on them as fast as you can and take the wind out of their sails." Wang, starting on three days' rest, was sucking wind a bit in that first inning, as the Indians continued to come after him with singles from Travis Hafner and Jhonny Peralta, the latter of which knocked in another run. And when the Tribe loaded the bases off Wang in the second inning on a controversial hit by pitch awarded to Kelly Shoppach, Yankees manager Joe Torre had seen enough. He made the call to veteran Mike Mussina. Mussina quelled the waters a bit when he got Sizemore to ground into a double play, but a run still came across on the play to make it 3-0. And that lead was bumped to 4-0 when Asdrubal Cabrera shortened his swing in a two-strike count and lifted an RBI single to shallow left.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.