By the time the Indians finished with Boston, the Red Sox had much more than an aching back.
Jim Thome hit an historic grand slam, Harold Baines added a three-run shot and Charles Nagy pitched seven solid innings Thursday as Cleveland moved within a win of sweeping Boston with an 11-1 rout of the Red Sox.
The Indians, who were the first team in 49 years to score more than 1,000 runs during the regular season, looked for a while like they might try to match that figure in Game 2.
"We're in a groove now," shortstop Omar Vizquel said. "We got everybody swinging the bats, and we're feeding off one another".
The Red Sox, who lost Pedro Martinez to a back injury in Game 1 and maybe for the series, will turn to another Martinez, Pedro's brother, Ramon, to save their season in Game 3 Saturday at Fenway Park. Dave Burba, a postseason hero for the Indians pitching out of the bullpen last year, starts for Cleveland.
"We need a good start from Ramon," Red Sox manager Jimy Williams said. "We have to win Saturday. We know that. ... We're not done yet. It's not over yet."
The Indians, who had lost eight straight series openers before winning Game 1 Wednesday night, have won five straight postseason games against the Red Sox. Boston has owned Cleveland during the regular season the past two years, but can't seem to figure the Indians out in October.
Pedro Martinez, who removed himself after four innings in Game 1, said the muscle strain in his back had improved, but that there was persistent pain and he planned to throw again Saturday.
Even if he can pitch again, it may be too late for the Red Sox, who dropped to 1-18 since Bill Buckner's infamous error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
Williams kidded that it might be time for desperate measures. Maybe even a seance.
"Maybe I'll get a hold of George Herman (Ruth)," Williams said.
Thome made history with his second career postseason slam, capping Cleveland's two-inning onslaught against Saberhagen and John Wasdin. His shot in the fourth off Wasdin gave Cleveland an 11-1 lead.
Thome, who hit a grand slam last year in the AL championship series, has 14 career postseason homers and four in his last four playoff games. His two-run homer in Game 1 made it 2-2 in the sixth, and the Indians rallied to win in the bottom of the ninth.
Of Thome's 36 postseason hits, 14 have left the field.
"It's hard to explain," he said. "I've had some good pitches to hit, and they went out."
|Bret Saberhagen's six earned runs in 2-plus innings was a big disappointment for the team.|
"I have no idea why I have success against that team and I'm not going to even try to analyze it or think about it," he said.
Saberhagen, on the disabled list three times this year, walked 11 batters in 119 innings this season. But he walked three in the third inning, when the Indians set a division series record by scoring six times.
"I guess he's human," Williams said. "He's not perfect."
Saberhagen, a World Series MVP in 1985, is 0-3 in three first-round starts.
"I just didn't make some pitches when I had to," Saberhagen said. "Walking three guys in an inning, that's not me. Maybe I didn't mix my pitches as much as I should have."
Vizquel hit a two-run triple, Roberto Alomar had an RBI double and Baines capped the Cleveland third with a three-run shot to right-center.
But Saberhagen, who didn't walk a batter in 13 starts and no more than one in 20 of 22, wsn't completely to blame. After Travis Fryman walked to open the inning, Sandy Alomar hit a slow grounder to shortstop that looked like a sure double play both Fryman and Alomar wear knee braces.
However, Fryman slid hard into second and Jose Offerman's relay throw pulled Mike Stanley off the bag at first to put the Indians in business. Kenny Lofton worked Saberhagen for a walk, and Vizquel followed with a triple to right.
"You've got to give Sandy and Travis a lot of credit," Thome said. "They're playing on knees that are pretty bad."
Alomar followed Vizquel's hit with a double to the same spot, and with Manny Ramirez due up, the Jacobs Field crowd smelled blood. But Saberhagen got Ramirez on a fly ball before walking Thome.
Baines then put the finishing touches on the Indians' biggest postseason inning with his 412-foot homer, the fifth of his career in the postseason.
Offerman's two-out RBI single in the third gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
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