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Baseball Insider: October 5, 2008 - October 11, 2008

Red Sox Without the Real Beckett

If the Rays can pull out this slugfest, which they now lead 8-6 in the fifth, the Red Sox will have to face the rest of this ALCS without the real Josh Beckett. He can still hit 93 on the gun, but he's obviously not right after his oblique muscle...

By Thomas Boswell  |  October 11, 2008; 10:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Instant Replay: The Rays' Green Light District

Dave has rightfully spent plenty of time here today questioning Terry Francona's logic in sending Daisuke Matsuzaka out to start the eighth inning last night in Tampa Bay. Still, the Rays own manager is due some of the same retrospective skepticism after two key moments in the Red Sox's 2-0...

By Cameron Smith  |  October 11, 2008; 7:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Rays , Red Sox  
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Maddon To Papi: You're Right

To refresh your memories, here were the comments from Red Sox DH David Ortiz following their Game 1 loss: "I saw faces tonight [on the Rays' players] that were different than I saw in the regular season. There's a lot of pressure. [ellipses] That relaxed feeling you have during the...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 11, 2008; 5:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Another View of the Eighth Inning

I think the reason Terry Francona sent Daisuke Matsuzaka out for the bottom of the eighth inning, and left him out there even after a leadoff single was because he was hoping to save some bullpen firepower for Game 2, in anticipation of a five-inning start (if that) from Josh...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 11, 2008; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Close Call

It's probably a little silly to question Red Sox Manager Terry Francona these days given the unprecedented success the franchise has seen since he took over before the 2004 season. But he came dangerously close to resembling former field boss Grady Little during Game 1 of the American League Championship...

By Tom Heleba  |  October 11, 2008; 10:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Lineups From the Trop

Goodgawdamighty, it's hot here. Ninety degrees and humid. Of course, that's outside. Here under the drab, gray roof at Tropicana Field, it's a pleasant 70. Here are your lineups for tonight's Game 1 of the ALCS: Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury - 8 Dustin Pedroia - 4 David Ortiz - DH...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 10, 2008; 4:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Philadelphia's Game of Shadows

Looking for a difference maker this afternoon at Citizen's Bank Park? It could be the refracted sunlight in Philadelphia. The Phillies played 21 day games in their home ball park this season, pulling out a 13-8 record ... with one win over the Dodgers in a 5-2 game back...

By Cameron Smith  |  October 10, 2008; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Dodgers , Phillies  
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NLCS Game 2 lineups

Game 2 lineups Da' lineup reads a little different for L.A., with Russell Martin and Andrew Ethier trading places; Martin moves up to the two hole while Ethier moves down to the cleanup spot. Blake DeWitt and Casey Blake also switched spots in the order, with DeWitt moving to seventh...

By Marc Carig  |  October 10, 2008; 3:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Dodgers , Phillies  
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Update: Sad News From Philly

June Manuel, the mother of Philadelphia Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel, died this morning after a brief illness. She was 87. Manuel received word during a coaches meeting this morning. He remained at Citizens Bank Park and watched the Phillies take pregame batting practice as usual. But he left the field...

By Marc Carig  |  October 10, 2008; 1:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Phillies  
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Reviewing the Ground Rules

Haven't seen too many Rays games in Tampa this year? That's okay, neither have their fans. As this year's best story in baseball continued to unfold, the folks in central Florida were slow to come around. When the Red Sox visited the Rays for a key AL East matchup in...

By Tom Heleba  |  October 10, 2008; 11:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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What's Wrong With Papi?

I want to take a closer look at the second item in the ALCS notebook in today's paper, in which Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz claims the Los Angels Angels pitched around him in the ALDS, accounting for his lack of production in the series. "You saw the series,"...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 10, 2008; 9:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Instant Replay: Pitching to Manny

The big storyline entering the NLCS was how the Phillies would deal with blistering hot Manny Ramirez, who racked up an absurd .500 batting average in the NLDS against the Cubs. So how'd they do? Not so great, despite Philadelphia's Game 1 win, because Ramirez is still batting .500 in...

By Cameron Smith  |  October 9, 2008; 11:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Dodgers , Phillies  
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Lineups! Philly fresh lineups!

Lineups from Philly Dodgers Furcal - 6 Ethier - 9 Ramirez - 7 Martin - 2 Loney - 3 Kemp - 8 Blake - 5 DeWitt - 4 Lowe - 1 Phillies Rollins - 6 Victorino - 8 Utley - 4 Howard - 3 Burrell - 7 Werth - 9...

By Marc Carig  |  October 9, 2008; 4:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Dodgers , Phillies  
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Pacman Not the Only Athlete in Hot Water

Bad news for Mets fans: Not only is the team's shaky bullpen -- barring a huge offseason overhaul (more likely than not) -- decimated by the loss of closer Billy Wagner, they also could be missing one of the guys who tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to fill the gap in his...

By Cameron Smith  |  October 9, 2008; 4:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Mets  
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Pitching Pains With an October Twist

Some interesting notes in the world of pitching injuries, and how they have and haven't affected playoff teams: The Cubs may have missed out on this year's NLCS, but they took their first step in planning to get back to the playoffs yesterday, picking up a $7 million, one-year option...

By Cameron Smith  |  October 9, 2008; 10:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Cubs , Red Sox  
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My Picks: Dodgers in 6, Red Sox in 7

The Dodgers: Because Derek Lowe/Cole Hamels is essentially a draw -- OK, maybe a slight edge to Hamels -- while every other pitching matchup favors the Dodgers. Because Manny Ramirez is the most unstoppable force in baseball right now. Because I don't trust Brad Lidge, no matter how many saves...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 9, 2008; 8:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Deeper Perspective Still Shines on Rays

As only Boz can, he wrote a glowing column rightfully crowning the Rays as potential one-year rebound kings if they can win the World Series. The way they've been able to use momentum and home field advantage in baseball's most sterile ballpark to slingshot past the Red Sox (at least...

By Cameron Smith  |  October 8, 2008; 7:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Braves , Mets , Rays , Tigers , Twins  
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Rays Stick With Same Rotation

According to the Tampa Tribune "Rays Report" blog with Marc Lancaster, the Rays will stick with the same rotation in the ALCS: James Shields in Game 1, followed by Scott Kazmir, Matt Garzan and "probably" Andy Sonnanstine....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  October 8, 2008; 3:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Rays  
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What Others Are Writing

Some good reading on the remaining playoff teams: * Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times columnizes on Andrew Friedman, the Rays' 31-year-old GM. * Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaunessy recalls the colorful career of Rays consultant and baseball lifer Don Zimmer. * Ross Newhan -- father of former Oriole...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  October 8, 2008; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Red Sox Set Rotation

From the Associated Press: Daisuke Matsuzaka has been picked by the Boston Red Sox to open the AL Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The 18-game winner will start Friday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be followed in the rotation by 2003 World Series MVP Josh Beckett....

By Tracee Hamilton  |  October 8, 2008; 11:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Red Sox  
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Dream Matchup to Remain Just That

Remember when Joe Montana was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs before the 1993 NFL season and both teams made it to their respective conference championship games? A delicious Super Bowl matchup between San Francisco and Kansas City awaited, but no one told the Cowboys and Bills as it...

By Tom Heleba  |  October 8, 2008; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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First-Round Leftovers, Do-Overs and Hangovers

Today, during this strange pause in the playoff action, is a day for looking both behind and ahead -- as Boz did in this column. I'm taking advantage of the pause by mulling over my LCS picks for another day, but in the meantime, here are some random thoughts about...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 8, 2008; 8:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Et Tu, Cubs Fan?

Cubs fans are known for their steadfast loyalty, but at least for some, 100 years is enough. How else could we explain this, which we tripped across over at AOL Fanhouse: In the interest of sparing my emotions from one more gut-wrenching season, I am auctioning off my loyalty to...

By Cameron Smith  |  October 7, 2008; 4:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Braves , Cubs , Marlins  
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Tiger Stadium Reprieve

From the Associated Press: The Detroit City Council has granted Tiger Stadium a stay of execution. The council voted 5-3 on Tuesday to reject a resolution that would have authorized the immediate demolition of the historic ballpark. Crews began tearing down the stadium in June. A corner of the ballpark...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  October 7, 2008; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Tigers  
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Rivera Has Shoulder Surgery

From the Associated Press: New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had surgery Tuesday on his right shoulder and is expected to resume throwing in three months, a month ahead of spring training. New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek operated at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Altchek also operated...

By Tracee Hamilton  |  October 7, 2008; 1:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Yankees  
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Teams That End in "Sox" For $500, Alex

like the NL regular season runaway champs on the North side of Chicago, the Angels went meekly into a chilly night in Boston never to be seen again, as recorded in immaculate detail by Dave here. While Dave may have correctly picked the Red Sox win their ALDS series, there were plenty of media heads who were tripping over themselves to call it an Angels-Cubs World Series a week ago, before the playoffs got rolling. What's gone wrong for the Halos? Well, as Dave reminds us here, there's a reason why the old analogy about how "pitching wins championships" has stuck for so long. With that in mind, I did a bit of anoraking, comparing the Angels four postseason series wins since 2002 with the four series they've lost, all against either the Red or White Sox. Here's how the Angels' pitching staff panned out in those contests:

By Cameron Smith  |  October 7, 2008; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Angels , Red Sox , White Sox  
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On Dominance

There is no one, single way to win in October. You can slug your way to victory (in the 2002 postseason, the Angels and Giants combined to hit 51 homers). You can perfect the small-ball game (the NL champion Astros in 2005 pulled off 18 sacrifice bunts in October). You...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 7, 2008; 9:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Postseason Suggestions?

The first round of the playoffs is over and baseball's best teams during the regular season -- the Cubs in the National League and Angels in the American League -- have been sent home for the winter. The Cubs were lethargic from the start of the postseason while the Angels...

By Tom Heleba  |  October 7, 2008; 12:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Enjoy Game 6 of '08 World Series: On TV Right NOW!

I assume all serious baseball fans are now watching Game 6 of the '08 World Series that's on TBS right NOW. Oh, it's otherwise known as Game 4 of the Division Series between the defending world champion Red Sox and the 100-win Angels. I'm not kidding: The World Series is...

By Thomas Boswell  |  October 6, 2008; 9:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Rays Advance

The Rays are heading to the ALCS. Just moments ago, baseball's most charmed team finished off the White Sox in Game 4, continuing their run through uncharted territory with a 6-2 win. B.J. Upton started things with emphasis by clubbing two early solo home runs, and Tampa knocked 17-game winner...

By Chico Harlan  |  October 6, 2008; 8:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Rays , White Sox  
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Update: Lowell Removed From Red Sox's Roster

Goodbye, Mike Lowell. The Red Sox de-activated their veteran third baseman about an hour before the start of tonight's Game 4 of the ALDS, replacing him with infielder Gil Velazquez. In the short-term, the move gives the Red Sox a versatile utility man who can be used as a defensive...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 6, 2008; 7:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Stealing in More Ways Than One?

The White Sox don't steal many bases. This season, they swiped 67 bags, 25th in baseball and 75 fewer than the Rays, who led the league. But in Game 3, the White Sox turned from mashers into speedsters, stealing three bases -- their first three of the season. Asked if...

By Chico Harlan  |  October 6, 2008; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Boston's Lowell Out Tonight, Maybe Beyond?

Red Sox Manager Terry Francona struck a somber tone during his pre-game news conference just now, revealing that third baseman Mike Lowell is "hurting" and acknowledging the team has "some decisions to make" in regards to his spot on the roster. Lowell, who has been playing with a torn labrum...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 6, 2008; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Big Opportunity, Smaller Role

White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, in varying moments, can talk about Ken Griffey Jr. as a part of his outfield or a part of history. But this October, those two identities -- Griffey's current ability and his legend -- have made for a delicate juxtaposition. On July 31, the White...

By Chico Harlan  |  October 6, 2008; 4:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  White Sox  
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From The Cell

Here we go, Game 4, Tampa and Chicago. The ChiSox feel like they're riding a wave heading into this one. First of all, they're a different team at The Cell -- 54-28 (.659) this season, third-best in the AL. Second of all, they're starting 17-game winner Gavin Floyd, in a...

By Chico Harlan  |  October 6, 2008; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Can I Get An "Uh-Oh"?

So, two series down -- Phillies in, Dodgers in -- and two to go. Of the teams leading the two remaining series -- Tampa Bay and Boston -- who is feeling the most heat? I'll answer that two ways: *Boston is most in need of a Game 4 win. They...

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 6, 2008; 8:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Drew Out of Lineup

BOSTON (AP) -- J.D. Drew, who hit the decisive home run for Boston in the second game of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Angels, was not in the lineup for Game 3 on Sunday night because of his ailing back. Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell returned to...

By Tom Heleba  |  October 5, 2008; 5:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Lineups from U.S. Cellular

[UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.] -- A drizzle pushed the game time back by 30 minutes. First pitch is now set for 4:40 EST. Tampa Bay Iwamura -- 4 Upton -- 8 Pena -- 3 Longoria -- 5 Crawford -- 7 Aybar -- DH Navarro -- 2 Baldelli -- 9 Bartlett --...

By Chico Harlan  |  October 5, 2008; 2:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Rays , White Sox  
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Rant

Just once, I aspire to cover a playoff game where fans do not wave towels. Not to sound like Andy Rooney here, ranting about how things used to be, but why does every team feel the need to issue its fans rally towels upon entrance? Fans get them in Philadelphia....

By Chico Harlan  |  October 5, 2008; 2:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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What Would You Do?

The Milwaukee Brewers host the Philadelphia Phillies today at 1 p.m. in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The Green Bay Packers host the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. today in Week 5 of the NFL season. This postseason marks the Brewers' first trip to the playoffs in...

By Tom Heleba  |  October 5, 2008; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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The Morning Roundup

"It's going to be a long winter," Chicago's Alfonso Soriano said, just minutes into a winter that had begun several weeks earlier than he expected. Could it even be possible for a stronger regular season to dissolve more quickly? In three games against the Dodgers, the super-charged Cubbies scored six...

By Chico Harlan  |  October 5, 2008; 9:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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