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Red Sox-Indians Preview
Posted: Monday October 04, 1999 12:40 PM
By Stephen Cannella, Sports Illustrated
The RED SOX will win if: Someone other than Tribe-killer Garciaparra and Troy O'Leary (103 RBIs) hits. The Sox figure to get at least one solid outing in the three games pitched by Bret Saberhagen, Ramon Martinez and Kent Mercker -- but whoever gives it to them will need some run support. Leadoff hitter Jose Offerman has to get on base, and someone in Boston's DH-1B rotation of Mike Stanley, Butch Huskey, Brian Daubach and Reggie Jefferson has to provide some pop.
Don't be surprised if: This is a tight, low-scoring series. Red Sox pitchers, who went 8-4 and limited the Tribe to a lower batting average (.236) than any other AL staff this year, have shown they can hold Cleveland's vaunted offense in check. Though Cleveland's starters aren't the most imposing bunch, it doesn't take much to keep the AL's sixth-lowest-scoring team down. If the firm of Alomar, Thome, Ramirez and Justice can turn these games into slugfests, pencil the Indians in for the ALCS.
X Factor: The Cleveland bullpen. The Tribe's rotation after Game 1 starter Bartolo Colon -- Charles Nagy, Dave Burba and Jaret Wright -- is questionable, so Mike Hargrove could find himself relying on the bullpen to keep the Indians close in the middle innings. Steve Karsay (who has had arm trouble), Paul Shuey and Steve Reed were all brilliant at times this season, but each has an ERA over 5.00 since September 1. Only Ricky Rincon (2.89) pitched effectively down the stretch. With quality starts no guarantee for the Indians, those four relievers have to put out the fires.
Prediction: Red Sox in five
Sports Illustrated staff writer Stephen Cannella will be contributing regularly to CNNSI.com throughout the playoffs.
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