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ALDS: Angels vs. Red Sox, Game 1
I think Bud Selig gave the AL's best team the option of two different length series just to give fans, bloggers and sportswriters something new to argue about. The starting rotation, 25-man postseason roster and use of the bullpen ought to have been enough of a debate, but now we get to second-guess the choice of schedule, too.
At first glance it seemed that the Red Sox, who earned that choice, had already put themselves at a disadvantage. Tim Wakefield is probably the best No. 4 starter in baseball and in the short series, played over eight days, rather than the long series, played over nine, the fourth guy pitches Game 4. (In the long series, there's enough rest for the Game 1 starter to go in Game 4 and the Game 2 guy to pitch Game 5.)
It seemed to make no sense: Wakefield would have had the edge over Joe Saunders (or even Ervin Santana), and taking the short series would turned the Indians-Yankees series into the long version, That would have given C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona -- the Tribe's only two starters of note -- the ability to pitch four of the possible five divisional series games. Sure, Cleveland had the better regular-season record, but let's be honest, the Sox, should they advance, would much rather face the Indians than the Yankees.
My first suspicion when Boston announced its intention for the long series was that Curt Schilling was hurt. After all, he completely skipped his meaningless Sunday start, rather than pitch even a token three or four innings, as he probably did in a simulated session on the side anyway.
Or that Boston made its choice to preserve the bullpen a little more. Jonathan Papelbon, coming off shoulder problems last year, as was brilliantly detailed by Tom Verducci in the magazine this week, looked mortal in consecutive appearances against the Yankees and Blue Jays in mid-September -- and he looked hysterical while dancing after the Sox clinched the AL East -- but those were the only three earned runs he gave up in the month, and he was coming off a zero earned run month in August. Of course, Hideki Okajima sitting out most of the month with a tired arm might have been the most predictable storyline in baseball, after the way his arm was abused in the early season. Terry Francona was like a child with a new toy, the way he wouldn't put down the left arm he used repeatedly to signal Okajima in from the bullpen.
Then came the news yesterday: Wakefield won't pitch at all in the ALDS because of persistant back pain. In some ways that's not the worst news for the Sox, as the speedy Angels likely would have run rampant against Wakefield's glacial delivery. Even knowing this, I maintain that the Sox would have lost less by starting Jon Lester in Game 4 than the Indians do by having to start Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd. In other words, the Sox could have hurt the Yankees a lot more than helped themselves with their choice of schedules. Additionally, had that plan worked, the Indians wouldn't have been able to start Carmona in Game 1 of the ALCS as they will be able to do now, should they beat the Yankees.
I know you can’t look past a first-round opponent, but Dice-K, save his two-run, eight-inning gem in his final start against the Twins, has been eminently mortal of late. Saunders won both his starts against Boston but was hit hard in one of them.
That's just how life is for the Sox: always failing to make the obvious call in the postseason. Isn't that right, Mr. Little?
Labels: Angels-Red Sox
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Yep, I'm a nervous wreck. It's playoff time. It. Is. On. GO SOX!
They took the long series because they had to leave Wakefield of the ALDS roster. They also have an extra day between game 1 and 2, allowing Dice-K to pitch after six days rest, and Schilling gets an extra one to. GO SOX!
wow, that is absolutely laughable. taking a jab at grady little FOUR YEARS after he left, and spreading it into a jab at the entire organization. were you even thinking of the bullpen? extra days off will keep papelbon fresh and available for every game. plus, dice-k is three times the pitcher on extra rest. choosing a series that'll leave your club at a disadvantage in the hopes that it will leave another at a slightly bigger disadvantage? that's a joke. an absolute joke.
that was nice!!!!!!!!!!!
that game of yesterday
josh beckett was really great
and that of homer of big papi.
game 5 will be in Boston...nice research hack
Indeed, I would expect a baseball writer to know that games 1, 2 and 5 of a divisional series are always played in the same park. In this case, Fenway.
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