CLEVELAND — One more game and Ken Harrelson’s season will be “ovah.”
The 75-year-old broadcaster, who lightened his schedule this season by working a road-game slate, says he’s invigorated by the part-time gig which allows him to spend more time with his wife (Aris) of 43 years and grandkids.
“I love it more now than I ever have, I really do, especially with this schedule,’’ Harrelson said Saturday.
Harrelson takes losses harder than some players do, which made this, his 33rd year in the Sox’ booth, tough to handle. For him, having no more losses after home home to stew over during his long drive home to Granger, Ind., has preserved his outlook.
“I grew up in a different culture than these kids [players] — we took it home with us,’’ Harrelson said. “I’ve never been able to drop that. I’m not saying losing is easier for me – but to only see half as much of it because I’m doing only half the games … ’’
Harrelson called an 8-1 Sox victory Saturday which halted a six-game losing streak and temporarily delayed the Cleveland Indians’ charge to the AL Central championship. Todd Frazier hit his 39th home run in his pursuit of 40, Jose Abreu had three singles and his 97th RBI in his pursuit of 100 and left-hander Jose Quintana (13-11, 3.21) pitched six innings of one-run ball to cross the 200-innings mark for the fourth straight season.
“I don’t like to talk about stats,” said Quintana, who held an opponent to two or fewer runs for the 20th time in 32 starts and guaranteed a winning record for the first time in his career. “We didn’t have a good year and the goal here is to make the playoffs. We can’t this year. We’ll try to rest up and come back next year.”
With 175 hits and 25 homers in his first three seasons, Abreu has joined Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols in a special class. Frazier is looking to become the sixth Sox to get 40 homers and 100 RBI in a season. He has 96.
The win was the second for the Sox in eight games at Progressive Field against the Indians, whose magic number to clinch the division held at 2. The Sox are 73-81, including 50-71 since a 23-10 start.
“What a bummer, to start 23-10 and have a six game lead on these guys,’’ Harrelson said.
Harrelson, who called four consecutive losing seasons for the first time in his career, bristled at the thought.
“If we get beat 2-0 and Corey Kluber sticks it to us that don’t bother me,’’ he said. “But when we play the way we played and continually make those mistakes there isn’t anybody after that game is over is more [ticked] off than I am. Nobody. And at my age … ’’
Quintana posted the Sox’ 89th quality start, which ranks second to the Blue Jays in the AL. That’s all well and good, but Harrelson has been saying for years that starting rotations aren’t as important as bullpens. He would like to see the Sox offseason improvement plan address relief pitching first.
“They’ve got to start with the bullpen,’’ he said. “It’s no longer where your starters are going to take you, it’s where your bullpen is going to take you. You have to put Robin [Ventura] or whoever is going to manage this club in a position where he can manage a five- or six-inning game. If you can’t, you’re at a big disadvantage. If you can cover the last nine outs you will play meaningful games in September.’’
Harrelson will watch the postseason with interest and Sox fans might not want to hear this but he will be rooting for the Cubs, his preseason pick to win the World Series.
“I hope the Cubs win the whole thing because it will be good for the city and it will push us to make us better,’’ he said.