Game 6 game story

The 2004 Indians collapsed in August, the 2005 Indians in September. The 2006 Indians collapsed, well, pretty much all season long. The 2007 Indians have apparently chosen late October.   Boston scored 10 runs off Fausto Carmona and Rafael Perez during the first three innings Saturday night as the Red Sox clobbered Cleveland, 12-2 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

Thursday morning, the Indians awoke with a 3-1 series lead — one victory away from playing in the World Series. This morning, they awoke to find themselves one loss away from once again ramming the iceberg with the dock in plain view.

“It just has to stop,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said, “and it has to stop tonight. They need to go to bed tonight with clear heads and think good thoughts and come here (today) expecting to win. We’ve shown time and time again that we handle these things pretty well.”

Game 7, if you dare watch, will take place tonight at 8:23 at Fenway Park.

“It’s going to come down to Game 7 with the two teams that won more baseball games than anybody in the regular season, two teams that beat up on each other a little bit over the course of the past week, and that’s the way it should be,” Wedge said. “It’s something everybody should look forward to.”

“We’re excited,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We should be excited. I’d say they will be too.”

Perhaps Jake Westbrook, the unflappable sinkerballer who shut out Boston for the first six innings of Game 3, will turn out to be the right man for the job.

“I’ll be able to sleep pretty well,” Westbrook said. “I’m glad for the opportunity to be the guy on the mound.”

The Indians’ top two starters, C.C. Sabathia and Carmona, certainly weren’t.

Here is a combined pitching line from their four ALCS starts, one that might be deemed too obscene for a family newspaper — 16 1/3 innings, 23 earned runs (12.67 ERA), 27 hits, 16 walks.   These same two pitchers (allegedly) were the front-runner for the Cy Young Award and the runner-up for the American League ERA title during the regular season.   Carmona didn’t make it out of the third inning Saturday before being charged with seven runs. He also served up a bases-loaded, two-out, 3-1 sinkerball to J.D. Drew in the first inning that didn’t sink quite far enough. Drew reached down and lifted the ball over the center-field fence for a grand slam home run that gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.   Wedge spent much of the first inning questioning the configuration of umpire Dana DeMuth’s strike zone.   Carmona didn’t seem to have much luck measuring it either. He threw 36 pitches in the first inning and, as his frustration grew, Boston fans began chanting, “Fausto, Fausto.”   Their taunts only seemed to unnerve Carmona even further.   Visits to the mound by catcher Victor Martinez, pitching coach Carl Willis and team psychologist Dr. Charles Maher didn’t seem to help.   As bad as that first inning was, it would get worse in the third.   Two walks and Drew’s RBI single up the middle made the score 5-1 and brought Carmona’s workshift to a merciful end.   His replacement, Perez, gave up three more hits that drove in four more runs.   Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera’s errant throw bounced off Boston baserunner Kevin Youkilis, allowing another run, and the Red Sox had widened the gap to 10-1. Long reliever Aaron Laffey picked up the final two outs of the third.   The Red Sox put 15 men on base during the first three innings, a span that required 97 minutes to complete. Laffey, the rookie left-hander, was unquestionably the star of a pretty lousy evening for the Indians.   He pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, retiring 14 of the 16 batters he faced.   Veteran right-hander Curt Schilling really didn’t need all those runs, but he certainly appeared appreciative.

“When you’re in the situation, we were in, offenses can press,” Schilling said. “Our offense stayed the same. They did an incredible job of working the count.”

Schilling worked seven innings, allowing only Martinez’s titanic home run to right and a Ryan Garko triple followed by Jhonny Peralta’s sacrifice fly.

When Schilling left the field after the seventh, he tipped his hat to the crowd, then turned and tipped it to the press box — mocking critical members of the Boston media.   Manny Ramirez was walked by both Carmona and Laffey in the third inning, becoming the first player in LCS history to walk twice in the same inning.   Drew became the third Red Sox player to hit a grand slam in the postseason, joining Johnny Damon in 2004 and Troy O’Leary in 1999 (against Cleveland).   Martinez and Trot Nixon had two hits apiece for the Indians. Travis Hafner was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, making him 3-for-22 (.136) against Boston and the fifth player in LCS history to fan 10 times in a single series.    Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or andy.call@cantonrep.com.