CLEVELAND -- First came the celebration. Then came the guilt. In the immediate aftermath of his thrilling walk-off home run in Monday's 6-5 win over the Tigers, Casey Blake said in a SportsTime Ohio interview that he hoped he wasn't overboard in his celebration while rounding the basepaths. Make no mistake, though. This was no Chad Johnson-esque showing up of the opposing team. All Blake really did was pump his fists and scream when the ball cleared the wall.More
"I don't usually do that," Blake said. "It was just such a big game." No apology necessary, in the minds of the Tigers. "That's the moment," catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "We play for something. We play to be in the postseason. Congratulate the guy. He won for his team. He deserves to celebrate." Tigers manager Jim Leyland agreed. "Casey Blake and the entire Cleveland team is a class act," Leyland said. "I don't have any problem with that. I'd have celebrated, too. Nobody on the Cleveland club I've ever seen be offensive to the other team, ever. That doesn't bother me at all." The topic -- or non-topic, rather -- brought about a conversation with Tribe manager Eric Wedge about the value of having players who don't showboat. It's a value Wedge said he would preach to his players when he was a manager in the Minor Leagues. "You have to know how to handle winning, and you have to know how to handle losing," Wedge said. "I know our guys understand that. You always respect the game and the team you're playing, because, at some point, you're going to be on the other side." Visualize it: Blake was the toast of the town Tuesday. Every TV station on the scene at Jacobs Field for the Indians' batting practice wanted to grab him for an interview. This is the kind of treatment a guy gets when he hits two walk-off homers in the span of four days. "I didn't plan it that way," Blake said sheepishly. But Blake did say he'll often visualize himself having success against a certain pitcher or in a certain situation before it happens. It's a mental pep talk, of sorts. "It's a product of having some confidence," Blake said. "You have to believe in yourself. That's what it takes." Key play: Lost in the shuffle of the home run heroics of Monday's win was a key defensive play the Indians made in the fourth inning. Yes, that was the same inning in which defensive miscues by shortstop Jhonny Peralta and right fielder Jason Michaels helped the Tigers string together three runs. But with two on and none out, the Tribe avoided further damage when Brandon Inge laid down a bunt in front of the plate, and catcher Kelly Shoppach fielded it and threw it to Blake at third to start a 2-5-3 double play. Was Shoppach expecting the bunt? "Oh yeah," he said. "I was expecting a lot better bunt, but I was definitely playing for bunt." Paul Byrd got the next batter, Curtis Granderson, to pop out, and the Tigers never scored again in the ballgame. Fuggedaboutit: Wedge wasn't going to bite the bait. While some are figuring the American League Central to be all but locked up after Monday's game, Wedge isn't going to rest comfortably until the Tigers are mathematically eliminated. It stood to reason, then, that he chose not to answer a reporter's question about whether he's considering the possibility of locking up home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. "I'm not thinking about that," Wedge said. "I'd be foolish to talk about it." Tribe tidbits: Monday's dramatic win gave the Tribe a boost in the standings and gave STO a boost in the ratings. According to Nielsen's preliminary ratings, the last hour of the extra-innings game had a 15 rating, peaking at a 17.9. These numbers equate to over 517,500 viewers over the age of 18 watching the broadcast. ... Attendance at Jacobs Field is up 194,044 from this point last year. The Indians are averaging 28,234 fans per home date, ranking 10th in the AL. The team reports that pre-sales for this weekend's home series with the A's are under 30,000 paid for each of the three games. ... The Indians' bullpen came into Tuesday on a streak of not having allowed a run in four games -- a span of 9 1/3 innings of work. On deck: The three-game series with the Tigers wraps up with Wednesday's 12:05 p.m. ET game at Jacobs Field. Left-hander C.C. Sabathia (17-7, 3.21 ERA) will oppose left-hander Nate Robertson (8-11, 4.93 ERA).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less