June 27, 2016

Partly cloudy

Old-school Byrd continues to do job on mound

CLEVELAND — Paul Byrd said Tuesday was a magical night.

And he wasn’t just talking about hitting 90 mph on the radar gun.

“I hit 90 tonight out of nowhere,” said the veteran right-hander, known more for his guts and smarts than anything resembling a big-time fastball. “We all know that happens a few times each year.”

It was 91, actually, and it came in the top of the second on a pitch he blew by J.D. Drew for strike three, one of Byrid’s four strikeouts.

No, the magic had to do with his performance in a 7-3 win over the Red Sox and what it meant for the Indians and himself.

For the Indians, it meant a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series, leaving them just one win away from their first trip to the World Series in 10 years.

For Byrd it meant redemption, pure and simple.

More than once this season, Byrd has said he wanted to make up for the mediocre performance (10-9, 4.88 ERA) he turned in last year.

Consider that debt paid. Maybe not in full, because there’s still a lot of season left, but he doesn’t have to issue any more I.O.U.’s to the team or its fans.

Tuesday night the 36-year-old with the old-school windup was as responsible for the win as anybody wearing an Indians uniform.

All he did was hold a scary Boston lineup to no runs and just four hits through the first five innings, matching Boston starter Tim Wakefield and his wobbly knuckler scoreless inning for scoreless inning until the Indians offense blew the game wide open with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth.

This on the heels of the 6-4 win he orchestrated in Yankee Stadium that clinched the division series for the Indians.

That gives the slow-ball hurling Byrd a 2-0 record this postseason to go with the 15-8 record and 4.59 ERA he posted during the regular season.

“He was the story of the night,” Tribe reliever Jensen Lewis said of Byrd. “There’s a reason why he won 15 games. He’s won two big games for us in the postseason. He’s a warrior.”