Baseball Playoffs Roundup

Scott Simon gets the latest on the baseball playoffs from Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

What's next for the New York Yankees? Locusts that could hardly be worse than the biblical plague of gnats that buzzed the Mac Jacobs Field in Cleveland last night - the swarm so distracted.

The Yankee rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain - he fired two wild pitches. New York ended up losing to the tribe in the 11th inning. And Boston Red Sox took the second game in the home last night against the Angels of the night off of Manny Ramirez's home run.

Our friend Howard Bryant was at Fenway Park. He joins us from Logan Airport where he's en route to New York City.

Howard, Thanks for being with us.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (Senior Writer, ESPN.com; ESPN Magazine): Hey, Scott, good morning.

SIMON: So they - Manny Ramirez is among those BoSox that can win a game a single swat of the bat. Is that the difference?

Mr. BRYANT: That's always been a difference in this series, especially the Angels are a great little scrubby team. I mean, they're more than that. However, in a short series, only five games, you need somebody in that lineup who can do something with one swing, and that's what Manny Ramirez did last night.

That's what David Ortiz has with the Red Sox and that the Angels' big hitter Vladimir Guerrero got hit with a pitch in the seventh inning and his turn of it - his turn at bat was coming up in the ninth and he ended up leaving the game. And so now, we're sitting there watching this and everyone's thinking how would they possibly going to win this game? And as it turned out, Manny Ramirez made sure that they didn't.

SIMON: Now, Howard, you're an investigative, intrepid investigative journalist. How did the Indians train those gnats to descend on the mound last night? I mean, the Yankees were already down the game, but this couldn't have helped.

Mr. BRYANT: It didn't help and it was phenomenal. We're watching this in - at Fenway. And you could hear - the second Joba Chamberlain uncorked the wild pitch that tied the game, you could hear the roar of the crowd at Fenway because we were in the press lounge where the reporters sit. And you could hear the crowd cheering and the Red Sox team hadn't even started yet because they were watching the Yankee game on the big screen.

I absolutely love Joe Torre as a manager. He's been one of my all-time favorite people to cover. I really think that last night, you have to pin that game on him because if your pitcher is that distracted, you've got to stop the game.

You have to make sure if this happens all the time. It happens all the time during the summer where you - in Kansas City in 1991, the Red Sox had a game stopped. Joe Torre has got to go out there and he's got - he's got to save his pitcher and it cost him a game that might cost him the season.

SIMON: Okay, Howard, we just got 20 seconds left. Did the Phillies and the Cubs have any chance against Colorado and Arizona, respectively?

Mr. BRYANT: Scott, I think the Phillies will go to the World Series and I'm looking really bad. I know you want your Cubs to go, but it does not look good for either one. I'm going to say they both go down unfortunately. Cubs have a better shot though because they're going home.

SIMON: Yeah, ho-ho. Things are much better there. Okay, our friend Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.

Thanks so much.

Sprint for the plane - stop at Starbucks first.

Mr. BRYANT: Thank you.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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