Hyped pitchers' duel turns into lopsided win for Sox
Posted: Saturday October 13, 2007 1:09AM; Updated: Saturday October 13, 2007 1:09AM
BOSTON -- There they were, just 10 feet from each other, pacing around like prizefighters before a bout. It was 30 minutes before the start of their much-ballyhooed duel, and Boston's Josh Beckett and Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia -- the American League's two leading Cy Young candidates -- conducted some of their pregame routines side-by-side, stretching and throwing in Fenway Park's right field seemingly oblivious to one another.
Fans in the stands snapped photos. Others cheered. "Those are the two best pitchers in the American League," a father told his son.
Indeed, Game 1 of the ALCS had the makings of a classic October pitchers' duel, but the duel turned out to be a dud, and the juiciest drama of the evening likely came from whatever book Stephen King was reading between innings in the stands.
Round One to Beckett. And Game 1 to the Red Sox.
"This is way too easy," a giddy, boozed-up Red Sox fan said to his friend as he pushed his way through the concourse after the game. Indeed, it wasn't supposed to be this easy. Not with Cleveland's fireballin' ace taking the mound, not with the 96-win Indians having just steamrolled the Yankees in the Division Series. But on Friday night, behind yet another postseason gem from Beckett, the Red Sox turned Game 1 into a laugher early and continued their October dominance. With their 10-3 shellacking of the Indians, Boston has now outscored opposing teams 29-7 in the postseason.
After allowing a first-inning home run to Travis Hafner, Beckett settled down, retiring the next 10 hitters he faced as the Red Sox took an early four-run lead. Beckett wasn't as dominant as he was in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Angels, but he was good enough. Indians hitters praised Beckett's curveball after the game.
"He was dropping that breaking ball in there," said Indians manager Eric Wedge. "He was doing a good job of going left to right with his fastball, [elevating] it when he needed to."
Said Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, "His fastball he located, but the key was his curveball. That pitch is huge for him, and he had it working."
Unlike Game 1 of the Division Series against the Yankees, Sabathia, meanwhile, wasn't able to make the big pitch when he needed to. The 27-year-old continues to struggle with his control in October, a bad sign for the Indians. In the regular season the lefthander never walked three batters in a game; in this postseason he has walked six and five batters in his two starts.
"We were patient," said Boston rightfielder Bobby Kielty. "We took walks. We made him throw the ball over the plate."
In the Red Sox clubhouse after the game all the TV sets were tuned into Game 2 of the NLCS in Phoenix. On this night it was easy to believe that the Red Sox players were watching their soon-to-be foe.