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Chess Match: Yanks' gamble backfires

Chess Match: Yanks' gamble backfires

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NEW YORK -- That's all she wrote. Both the Yankees and Indians gambled with their respective starters in a critical Game 4, but New York's ace flopped to help send Cleveland to its first American League Championship Series since 1998.

Chien music
The situation:
With their season on the line, the Yankees could either turn to 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang or veteran Mike Mussina for the start in a critical Game 4.


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The decision: New York manager Joe Torre gives the nod to Wang, even though the right-hander would be pitching on three days' rest after spotting eight runs to the Indians in a Game 1 loss.

The outcome: Wang lasts just one-plus inning and is charged with four runs on five hits, including a leadoff home run to Cleveland's Grady Sizemore. As expected, Torre wasted no time in pulling the ace, turning to Mussina with the bases loaded in the second inning.

The analysis: "As far as pitching on three days, that would have affected [Wang] later on; it wouldn't have affected him that early in the game. He just didn't locate it, and this ballclub will let you know if you don't locate the ball." --Yankees manager Joe Torre

Passing Pronk
The situation:
With one out in the fourth and the Indians holding a 4-1 lead, Mussina has runners on second and third base with Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner standing in the batter's box.


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The decision: The Yankees opt to intentionally walk Hafner, loading the bases for Cleveland's Victor Martinez, who had already grounded out in his first two at-bats.

The outcome: Martinez slices an offering from Mussina into left field, paving the way for two more runs for the Indians. Cleveland shortstop Jhonny Peralta followed by grounding into an inning-ending double play.

The analysis: "It's a pretty hostile environment and it got pretty loud there, [Sunday] night and tonight. But I'm proud of our players for coming and getting something going. I'm proud of our guys for manufacturing some runs and coming up with big hits." --Cleveland's Casey Blake

Closing time
The situation:
Cleveland carries a 6-3 lead into the ninth inning, sitting just three outs away from eliminating the Yankees and winning the Division Series.


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The decision: Cleveland manager Eric Wedge summons closer Joe Borowski, the 2007 American League leader in saves, despite Rafael Betancourt's perfect eighth inning, and Borowski's frequent tightrope act to pick up the final three outs.

The outcome: Borowski allows a solo home run to Bobby Abreu, but manages to finish off the Yankees, setting off a celebration in the Bronx back to Jacobs Field.

The analysis: "They have Mariano Rivera, throwing 94 [mph] and carving up the strike zone, and we throw our blue-collar closer, Joe Borowski. He doesn't have the best fastball or the best ERA, but that's how we do it. That's how we've been winning all year, playing as a team and working together." --Indians starter Paul Byrd

Jordan Bastian 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":["division_series" ] }
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