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October 11, 2007
When last Boston saw Cleveland, the Red Sox were rolling through the Indians, winning three of four games at Jacobs Field in late July. The only blemish for Boston during the series was a 1-0 loss.
Now it is almost two months since they last met. Boston finished the regular season with an overall 5-2 advantage over the Indians, but as Red Sox manager Terry Francona said a short time ago, those four games in July don't mean a whole lot as the teams square off in the ALCS, with Game 1 on tap for tomorrow night at Fenway Park.
"I don't know if there are advantages or disadvantages (to be taken from the July series)," said Francona. "It's probably going to depend on how we play and how they play (in the ALCS, and not what happened in July).
"We catch teams at periods during the year. I remember running through Detroit (in early July, the last series before the All-Star break) at a period and I remember thinking, 'Wow, that might be the best team in baseball.' But then their bullpen got beat up a little bit," said Francona of the Tigers, who failed to make the postseason.
"And then going through Cleveland (in July),even though we won, I remember thinking 'Wow, they've got a good team.' I think health has something to do with that. They're healthy (now). Some of the younger players have some games under their belt. They've gone through some big series. I know they feel good about themselves," said Francona.
So, he cautioned, Sox fans shouldn't get too caught up in what happened during the regular season. Only "now" counts.
"I don't think it really matters how we played back in April or June, or how they played," said Francona. "I think what's important is you try to get your team healthy and feeling good about themselves, and I think both teams are probably there right now."
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 2:56 PM | Permalink
Sox Quick Hits / Photo
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Sox' Manny Delcarmen, left, and fellow pitcher Jon Lester have some fun at today's workout.
A few quick hits from the Red Sox workout day.
*The Red Sox ALCS roster will include 11 pitchers, meaning Tim Wakefield is included. The Sox will only carry two catchers, meaning Kevin Cash in off the roster. Wakefield's right shoulder has improved enough where he remains scheduled to start Game Four in Cleveland next week.
*Bobby Kielty will start in right-field for J.D. Drew. Kielty has enjoyed great success in his career against Indians starter C.C. Sabathia (9-for-29, 4 2B, 2 homers).
*Diasuke Matsuzaka threw a three-inning simulated game at the tail end of the Red Sox workout. Several Sox pitchers also threw long sessions this week as the team tries to make up for the extra time it's enjoyed in between games.
Posted by Kevin at 2:38 PM to McNamara
Who gets the Cy Young Award?
By KEVIN McNAMARA
BOSTON - Most Boston baseball people are assuming that Josh Beckett sewed up this year's Cy Young award weeks ago when he won his 20th game. Not so fast.
You can't rule out C.C. Sabathia. At all. In fact, Friday night's Beckett-C.C. Sabathia matchup in Game One gives baseball fans an inside look at the two top contenders.
The numbers are very close between the A.L.'s top righty (Beckett) and lefty (Sabathia). Beckett's 20 wins are nice but Sabathia went 19-7 and had a better ERA (3.21 to 3.27) in nearly 40 more innings. Sabathia struck out 209 batters, Beckett 194. Opponent's batting average was .245 against Beckett and .259 against Sabathia. Beckett walks more hitters and is more prone to surrender home runs.
Just to throw a further match on the fire, you could make a case that Cleveland's Game Two starter, Fausto Carmona, is the best pitcher in this series. Carmona went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in the regular season. Only the Angels' John Lackey (3.01) owned a better ERA in the American League.
Carmona is also coming in very hot after shutting down the Yankees with a 9-inning, 3-hit, 1-run gem in Game Two of the ALDS.
Posted by Kevin at 12:44 PM to McNamara
| Comments 1
Here at Fenway.....Finally
By KEVIN McNAMARA
BOSTON - Thanks to my friends at Mike's Garage in Westwood, we are finally here at Fenway Park for ALCS workout day.
Just before the Route 1 exit on 95 North, my car siezed up thanks to a large chunk of metal lodging in a rear tire. End of plan to capture all of the Red Sox clubhouse time. We pulled off the highway and thank heavens into Mike's Garage. Twenty dollars later, the blown tire was replaced with the wonderful spare donut and we were back on the road (how we return to Providence is a challenge for another time.)
The nation's baseball media (plus Japan, of course) has descended on Fenway. The Sox clubhouse was packed with media but few players were out and chatting. We'll post a few nuggets of info that we've gathered but the bigger news will come after Terry Francona and Josh Beckett speak at around 2 p.m.
One of the supposed clear advantages between the Red Sox and the Indians is between the closers. Boston's Jonathan Papelbon enjoyed an All-Star season with 37 saves and a 1.85 ERA. He struck out 84 batters in 58 innings.
Cleveland's Joe Borowski racked up 45 saves but a closer look at the numbers reveals serious holes. Borowski's ERA zoomed to 5.07 but he struck out only 58 hitters in 65 innings. He also was just 13-of-19 in 1-run save chances and sailed through only 16 1-2-3 innings.
The biggest statistic in Papelbon's favor? Opponents hit .289 versus Borowski while Papelbon held foes to a .146 average.
Asked this morning about the edge the Sox hold in the closer's role, Papelbon wouldn't bite.
"This is the first time I've heard that. I don't see that big of an advantage," Papelbon said. "I think the guy's got more than 45 saves this year so I think he's doing his job pretty damn good. He's going out there and helping his ballclub win and he's producing."
"I'm going out there trying to do my job and trying to help my ballclub just like he's trying to help his ballclub."
Posted by Kevin at 11:57 AM to McNamara
Baseball Today: Thursday, October 11
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: We know it's the postseason, but we can't say it feels like it. This is the 11th day since the regular season ended and, thanks to the elongated playoff schedule dictated by television (and exacerbated by their ALDS sweep of the Angels), the Red Sox have played all of three games. What we've been seeing, for the most part, is what we saw yesterday: Workouts (above, Journal photo by Bob Thayer) interspersed with interviews, as reporters try to find stories during the wait for the next game.
The ones we found yesterday: Bobby Kielty's career success against C.C. Sabathia may earn him a start or two in the ALCS (Steven Krasner) . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka feels comfortable on the mound at Jacobs Field, along with other notes (Krasner and Joe McDonald) . . . an interview with ex-Sox farmhand and current Cleveland backup catcher Kelly Shoppach (McDonald) . . . Jon Lester feeling ready to pitch (McDonald) . . . and Dustin Pedroia's lack of prowess as a cribbage player (Krasner).
The news cycle should speed up today as the Indians arrive in town and game day inches closer. Then, once the games start, we'll finally get back into something of a normal rhythm; they'll be playing Friday-Saturday-Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday-Sunday. (Earlier in the week it appeared rain would be a problem for first two games, but now it looks like cold and wind will be the elements they'll be fighting. Monday and Tuesday don't look bad in Cleveland, though it will be on the cool side there, too.) Check back here today for all the latest news.
HERE'S YOUR CHANCE: Presidential hopeful Christopher Dodd is auctioning off two Game Six tickets in exchange for a campaign contribution of $20.04. If you're asking why he's seeking that particular price, you're not the person who should win the tickets.
AND THE WINNER IS . . . The Red Sox. At least that's how Baseball Musing's David Pinto, writing for SportingNews.com, sees it.
THANKS FOR NOTHING: Count Kenny Lofton among the people in Cleveland who didn't appreciate LeBron James showing up at Game Two of the ALDS in a Yankee hat. (sports.aol.com)
HE WHO LAUGHS LAST: The blog Gotham Baseball Magazine worries the Yankees will respond rashly -- i.e., with a foolish spending spree -- if the Red Sox win the World Series. ''Let the Red Sox and their fans giggle their way towards oblivion for the next decade,'' writes author Mark Healey. ''Let ESPN and the rest of the anti-New York national media trumpet their favorite team's world title. It matters little in the grand scheme of things. The bill for Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew and Daisuke Matsuzaka will come sooner rather than later. The Yankees have more important things to do than win a World Series. They have a another dynasty to build.''
The only thing all of that really indicates is that Healey doesn't have Clue One about how the Red Sox are going about their long-term business these days.
THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN': And another thing: All summer long, I chided my good friend Lou DiLullo for crowing that a repeat of 1978 was in the offing simply through the power of positive thinking. The Yankees' building of "another dynasty" falls into that "it ain't gonna happen just because you want it to happen" category. As proof, may we present the Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch, who says revenue sharing has leveled the playing field on the Yankees, which makes a repeat of their four-championships-in-five-years run of 1996-2000 -- not just by them, but by anybody -- extremely unlikely.
BACKWARDS PHILOSOPHY: Making it even more unlikely, writes Steven Goldman in the New York Sun, is the Yankees' recent trend of building teams that are offensively powerful but pitching challenged. ''The old elephant,'' says Goldman, ''must change its (pin)stripes or die.''
DEPENDS ON WHAT 'LOGIC' IS: Sam Donnellon -- tongue firmly in cheek (I think) -- says Larry Bowa is the logical choice to replace Joe Torre as Yankee manager.
LARRY WHO? Bowa doesn't make the New York Observer's Howard Megdal's list of potential replacements.
I YAM WHAT I YAM: Suzyn Waldman was unapologetic over her giddiness at Roger Clemens' return in May, and she's unapologetic over crying on the air after the Yankees were eliminated in October. (New York Times)
NOW I GET IT: All it took was a phone conversation with Scott Boras to convince MSNBC.com's Darren Rovell that Alex Rodriguez is worth $500 million to the YES Network -- and, thus, the Yankees -- over the next 10 years. Still think A-Rod's not going to test the free-agent waters?
NO, IN FACT, I DON'T: The New York Post's Joel Sherman believes it's all a big bluff and that A-Rod ''wants to stay a Yankee''.
AT LAST: Granted, the author is the New York Daily News' Mike Lupica -- who can find the dark cloud in the silver-est of Yankee linings (not that there are any silver Yankee linings these days) -- but Derek Jeter is finally catching some flak for his abysmal ALDS performance.
YOUTH WILL BE SERVED: The theme for this year's NLCS is young, home-grown talent blossoming into championship-caliber teams. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro presents it from the Diamondbacks side.
AND IT'S NOT JUST THE N.L.: Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post says the Indians are the A.L.'s version of the Rockies and Diamondbacks.
YOUTH? BAH! But the blog Bad Altitude says the folks in Phoenix ''still seem to wonder where Luis Gonzalez and Mark Grace went,'' as evidenced by the 4,000 unsold seats for Game One (Arizona Republic). (Bad Altitude says 12,000, but 8,000 were sold after that was written.)
HIGH ON THE ROCKIES: In Pinto's NLCS preview for SportingNews.com, he goes with Colorado over Arizona.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:28 AM | Permalink