Monday, September 29, 2008

Beat LAoA! Beat LAoA!

So, I listened to the last Red Sox game of the season on the radio last night. Well, ok, I listened to enough of the game to realize that I hadn’t heard of any of the players on either team. They were discussing the playoff series against the Angels. LA had released its roster, the Sox would at some point. Wakefield didn’t figure to get a start since the Sox would go with Beckett-Lester-Dice-Beckett-Lester. I turned off the game, which ended up being a thrilling ending when some guy drove in another guy. (Imagine being the Yankees for a moment. They’re not going to the playoffs. They have to just play out the string in Boston. The games are rainy, and yucky. Then, they actually postpone a game so they have to stay in Boston even longer. Then, that game goes extra innings. My goodness. It’s a wonder they didn’t just walk in the winning run in the 9th ) So, anyway, I wake up this morning, turn on the news and am blasted with the headline “Beckett Injured”. How did this happen? He didn’t pitch in either of yesterday’s games. Then, I find out he strained something a few days ago. How bad? Hard to be sure. According to Tito, his start is pushed back until Sunday’s game 3. Apparently, they considered Friday’s game but thought it best to wait. So, naturally, the one question on my mind is, what exactly does this mean?

It depends on how optimistic I feel like being. Hey, I’m a Sox fan. I can build my hopes up with the best of them. The new pitching rotation looks like Lester-Dice-Beckett-Lester-Dice. The Red Sox have gone into a playoff series with worse rotations. (Would you rather have Clement-Wells-Wakefield like the ’05 ALDS? How about the ’99 ALCS rotation of Mercker-R Martinez-P Martinez-Saberhagen?) Beckett hints that he’ll be ok come Sunday’s start. If he’s anywhere near normal Beckett, I’ll take him at home over any other teams third starter. So, that means they need to go 2-2 in Lester and Daisuke’s starts. Is that out of the question? Not really. First, we need to ignore the elephant in the room. I know the Sox are 1-8 against Anaheim this season. You can throw the regular season right out the window. First of all, all those games were with Manny on the team. If you listen to Curt Schilling as much as he hopes you do, the fact that Manny was hitting home runs and driving people in was hurting the Red Sox chances. In fact, six of those games were played within two weeks of The Trade. That was the period when the rest of the team was so consumed by the fact that Manny was effortlessly carrying the offense that they started making errors in the field. So, clearly, without Manny the Sox should steamroll right over the hapless Angels. Even without the Manny factor, there are too many variables in a playoff series to care too much about regular season results. Were the pitching match-ups the same? Did the teams have the same amounts of rest as they will in the playoffs? Were the line-ups the same? How often did the fourth or fifth starters match-up? So, while I’d prefer the Sox were 8-1, I’m not concerned about the head-to-head. What I am concerned about is the players themselves.

Lester’s a great game one starter. He’s already pitched meaningful playoff games on the road. He pitched a fantastic game in last year’s World Series game in Denver. I don’t see the LA crowd as the type that would rattle anybody. I know he’s a tad inconsistent, but can he take one of two potential starts? I don’t see why not. As for Matsuzaka, he’s a whole different animal. Will he wilt under the pressure? Absolutely not. Is he capable of pitching a gem? Absolutely. Is he capable of stinking up the joint? You better believe it. But, can he go 1-1? That’s what he did in the ALCS last year, including a win in game 7. So, certainly looks reasonable to me.

Basically, the teams look pretty evenly matched. They both have solid pitching with postseason experience. They both have quality line-ups. Are the Sox healthy enough to score more runs off Angel pitching than the Angels score? Possibly. I think Beckett’s the ace up our sleeve. I see the Sox winning the series, with Lester, Dice, and Beckett each winning once. Whether it takes 3 games to do that or 5, I’m not sure.

I’m sure hoping for 3.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What people are reading this week