The Red Sox are now contemplating a postseason rotation of the brothers Martinez, righthander Bret Saberhagen and lefty Kent Mercker—a group with intimidating credentials and imposing medical histories. Saberhagen, who plans to undergo minor off-season surgery on his own rebuilt pitching shoulder, concedes that he would have shut himself down in early September had Boston been out of contention. There's no telling how long his shoulder will last in the cold of October. Though Pedro (22-4, 2.11 ERA through Sunday) has the American League Cy Young Award wrapped up, he says that his shoulder has continued to bother him since soreness caused him to miss two starts after the All-Star Game. "I think my arm was in better shape last year," says Pedro, who lost three of four decisions going into the playoffs last year. "I wasn't as sore as I get now."
The Red Sox might have felt pressure to squeeze an extra start out of their ace in the postseason. By pitching effectively earlier than expected, Ramon may have come to his brother's rescue.
Indians Need a Fourth
Is Wright Finally Right?
As a 21-year-old rookie in 1997, righthander Jaret Wright knocked off the Yankees twice in the American League Division Series, went 3-0 in five postseason starts and carried Cleveland to the brink of a World Series title. Two years later the Indians are still looking for an ace to carry them through the playoffs, but they would settle for a few decent outings from Wright, a tempestuous fireballer. After a confidence-shaking season in which he was reprimanded by the league for headhunting and made two trips to the disabled list with a strained muscle in his pitching shoulder, Wright (8-9, 5.98 ERA) was still being counted on to fill the fourth spot in the playoff rotation behind righthanders Bartolo Colon, Charles Nagy and Dave Burba.
The first step toward getting Wright to fill that role would be to persuade him to relax and keep his composure on the mound-something he couldn't do against the Yankees on Sept. 17, when he was hammered for seven runs and seven walks in 3? innings and then doffed his cap in a mock salute to the booing Jacobs Field crowd. In his next start, however, against the Tigers on Sept. 22, Wright settled down and got his first win since July 6.
The key was staying low-key before he took the mound. At the behest of pitching coach Phil Regan, Wright altered his pre-game routine: Instead of throwing roughly 40 pitches, cranking his fastball up to 97 mph, Wright threw 70 warmup pitches at a more subdued pace. The approach worked. Wright surrendered two hits, a walk and one unearned run and struck out eight in seven innings against Detroit. He also quelled his habit of trying to escape trouble by out-muscling hitters, instead changing speeds effectively and throwing his changeup and curveball for strikes even when behind in the count. "I had to learn that for a power guy, sometimes less is more," says Wright.
It was only one outing (Wright was scheduled to make at least one more regular-season start, against the Royals on Tuesday), and a September game with the division title wrapped up is a far cry from a playoff pressure cooker. Still, it was the first sign the Indians have seen this year that Wright may not be a hindrance to their World Series hopes—and might even be a help.