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Notes: Hoping to minimize damage

Notes: Hoping to minimize damage

BOSTON -- Eric Wedge had seen the numbers. He just hadn't come up with a way to describe them.

Wedge knows all too well that the Red Sox came into Saturday's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series with Nos. 3 and 4 hitters David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez having reached base in 29 of their 36 total plate appearances this postseason. That's an on-base percentage of .805.

"I don't even know if there's a word for that," Wedge said.

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But what's more important to Wedge than finding a word for it is finding a defense for it. Whatever C.C. Sabathia and the Indians' relievers were trying to do against Big Papi and Manny in Friday night's 10-3 loss obviously didn't work.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ortiz and Ramirez became the first pair of teammates to reach base in every plate appearance with at least five appearances apiece in a postseason game.

Sabathia's problem was his uncharacteristic nibbling -- particularly when facing Ramirez, against whom he had an 0-2 count in the third inning, only to throw four straight balls for a bases-loaded walk.

The bullpen wasn't any better. Aaron Fultz was brought out to face fellow left-hander Ortiz in the sixth, and he walked him on a full count. He walked Ramirez, as well.

With five walks and a hit by pitch issued to Ortiz and Ramirez on the night, it was obvious the Indians' pitchers were doing everything in their power to avoid serving something down the middle. But the careful approach doesn't seem to do a team any favors, given what lurks behind them in the lineup.

"You've got a guy behind them that only knocked in 120 [runs]," Wedge said, referring to Mike Lowell. "So it's not just about those two guys. But obviously, they're the backbone of what they do here offensively."

Wedge believes his pitchers have to show a little more backbone when they face Ortiz and Ramirez in the remainder of this series.

"You can't shy away from them," Wedge said. "We've still got to pitch to our strengths and pitch our game and go get them. If they're not chasing, they're not chasing. They're in that zone right now. There's nothing that we can do, in regard to controlling that. There are points in time I think you've got to maybe be a little bit more careful, but [Friday] night, I think we were maybe too much so."

The Indians' mind-set in Game 1 was to attack the zone against Ortiz and Ramirez. Executing that game plan was another matter altogether.

"We've got to make sure what we're trying to do won't work before we abandon it," pitching coach Carl Willis said.

Breaking balls baffling: Opposing pitchers are throwing Franklin Gutierrez a curve. Dozens of them, in fact.

Gutierrez has batted just .143 (2-for-14) in five postseason games, in large part because of the heavy dose of breaking balls he's been fed. In the fifth inning on Friday night, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett and Gutierrez battled through an eight-pitch at-bat in which only one fastball was thrown. Gutierrez fouled it off.

On a 3-2 pitch, when it seemed Beckett might have to go back to the fastball, he instead reared back and threw another curve. Gutierrez watched it go by for strike three.

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"He's been pulling off a little bit," Wedge said of Gutierrez. "He just needs to make adjustments off that and get back to his strengths and let the ball travel a little bit."

Is the young Gutierrez pressing in his first postseason?

"There's no reason for him to press," Wedge said. "He just needs to go out and focus on having good at-bats and not get result-oriented. If you start looking past the ball, you're not going to take care of what you need to do to get there. Hopefully, he'll get back to that."

C.C. concern? Maybe it's been the extra rest between starts. Or the over-eagerness to come through on the postseason stage. Or maybe it's just simple fatigue after logging 240 regular-season innings.

Whatever the case, it's clear that Sabathia isn't living up to his own standards in the postseason.

While he was able to battle through five innings in an AL Division Series start against the Yankees on a night in which he was elevating his pitches but came out with a win, Sabathia was knocked around on Friday night by a Red Sox lineup that feasted on his fastball and successfully laid off his poorly placed secondary stuff.

"He's just been a little bit off," Wedge said. "Against a team like this, that plays right into their hands. They really know how to take advantage of that."

Much had been made of the Indians' decision not to pitch Sabathia on three days' rest in Game 4 of the ALDS. Now, the question is whether they'd even want to pitch him in Game 4 of this series, if the season were on the line.

For now, the Indians' chief concern is getting Sabathia an opportunity to pitch in a Game 5.

"Hopefully, he'll have a chance to continue to make those adjustments," general manager Mark Shapiro said.

Red Sox roots: Sure, he grew up in Baltimore and was accordingly a devoted Orioles fan. But few people realize that Shapiro was born in nearby Cambridge, Mass., and has distinct ties to the Red Sox organization.

Shapiro's father, Ron, who went on to become a player agent, attended law school at Harvard. While still in school, he worked at least one season with the Fenway Park grounds crew and was eventually asked to run the press room upstairs.

The Shapiro family moved to Baltimore when Mark was still a baby, so his baseball background began at old Memorial Stadium. But he nonetheless has a fondness for Fenway.

"They've done a marvelous job enhancing it without compromising the architectural integrity of it," Shapiro said. "I've got a lot of favorite parks, but, of the older parks, this is my favorite, by far. And there's some history here for me, too."

Tribe tidbits: According to a report in The Boston Globe, Keith Foulke, the man the Indians signed to be their closer last winter, only to see him retire a day before Spring Training camp opened, is planning on mounting a comeback next season. Are the Indians interested? "My attention is what's going on in-season now," Shapiro said. "When we're done playing, we'll focus on the offseason." ... Dropping the first game of the ALCS is not without precedent for the Indians. In fact, they have never taken Game 1 of the series in four chances -- 1995, 1997, 1998 and, now, 2007. The Tribe, of course, recovered in '95 and '97 to advance to the World Series. ... In 37 previous ALCS matchups, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 60 percent of the time.

On deck: The Indians and Red Sox will travel to Cleveland after Saturday night's game, with a workout scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Jacobs Field. Game 3 of the ALCS takes place at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday, with right-hander Jake Westbrook (0-1, 10.80 ERA in 2007 postseason) opposing right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-0, 5.79).

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }
{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }