There were plenty of stars in Cleveland's Game 2 win over the Boston Red Sox. Dave Burba, David Justice, Kenny Lofton and Sandy Alomar all had big days.
However, the biggest contributor for the Indians might have been an unlikely one - plate umpire Joe Brinkman.Brinkman threw Indians manager Mike Hargrove and starting pitcher Dwight Gooden out of the game in the top of the first inning on Wednesday Fired up by the ejections, the Indians responded with a 9-5 win over the Red Sox to tie the best-of-5 series at 1-1.
Burba, rushed into service when Gooden was tossed after 22 pitches, made it into the sixth inning, and Justice homered and drove in four runs for the Indians.
"It's almost like you're backed into a corner," said Justice, who hit a three-run homer off Tim Wakefield in Cleveland's five-run second. "I don't want to say the umpires are against us, but you look across the field and see the Red Sox want to beat you, and then something happens - you feel like, man, everyone is against us.
"I think that makes the players dig down inside, come together. Now it's time to come out and fight."
The Indians needed something to get them going. They played lethargically and stumbled through most of September after clinching their fourth straight AL Central title. Tuesday's 11-3 loss in Game 1 made it obvious they needed a quick fix, or it might be three and out.
In a strange way, Brinkman's banishment of Hargrove and Gooden to the Indians' clubhouse might have been just what the Tribe was looking for.
"Yesterday, we were the worst team in baseball," Alomar said. "Today, we're even."
The series continues Friday at Fenway Park, with Cleveland's Charles Nagy facing Bret Saberhagen. Game 4 is Saturday, and the teams would return to Jacobs Field for Game 5 on Sunday, if necessary.
"It's best-of-3 now," Boston manager Jimy Williams said.
Game 2 will be best remembered for the bizarre, 39-minute first that included just about everything - ejections, passed balls, stolen bases, etc.
"It was a weird, weird game," Jim Thome said.
Gooden, seeking his first postseason win, was in trouble with Brinkman after just his third pitch. He disagreed with the umpire on a 2-0 pitch to leadoff hitter Darren Lewis, yelling when Brink-man called ball three.
The umpire started out from behind the plate as Gooden motioned to him that things were OK and he would continue. Hargrove came out to calm his pitcher, but on his way back to the bench, he argued with Brinkman and was quickly tossed.
"For me, it's one of those things that happens in the heat of battle where everybody's competitive, especially in this situation," Hargrove said. "It was just a difference of opinion."
Gooden walked the first two hitters, but after striking out Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra doubled high off the wall in left. Darren Lewis and Valentin scored on the hit, although TV replays showed Valentin was thrown out.
When Brinkman called Valentin safe, Gooden, who was backing up the play, said something to the umpire, who immediately ejected him. Gooden had to be restrained by several teammates as he tried to get at Brinkman.
Brinkman released a statement through the AL.
"The ejection of Hargrove was questioning balls and strikes," he said. "The ejection on Gooden was that he screamed an expletive right in my ear and I ejected him. That's all there is to it."