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Not Done Yet

It was my opinion last year that if the Cleveland Indians wanted to go to the World Series they needed to win Game 5 of the ALCS, at home, with C.C. (he used the periods back then) Sabathia on the mound. Cleveland lost badly, and the Red Sox then went on to win Games 6 and 7 at Fenway Park to advance to the World Series.

That said, the Tampa Bay Rays' next win will be their most difficult to come by this season -- even with Games 6 and 7 to be played in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Red Sox are a remarkable 11-2 in elimination games since the 2003 postseason. They won three in a row against the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS that year; they won four in a row against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS; and they won those three in a row last year against Cleveland. Boston also forced a seventh game in the 2003 ALCS after returning to New York and trailing 3-2.

Simply put, this is nothing new to the Red Sox. If Daisuke Matsuzaka is somehow able to slow down the Tampa Bay offense and force a sixth game, Boston will head to Tampa Bay knowing it has Josh Beckett set for Game 6 and Jon Lester for Game 7. Clearly, Beckett has been a shadow of his former October self, but the Rays do not want to give him that chance of emerging.

Interesting side note out of Tampa Bay, too, in that Manager Joe Maddon has pushed back original Game 5 starter James Shield to a potential Game 6. Scott Kazmir, who failed to get out of the fifth inning in Game 2, will start tomorrow night at Fenway Park because of his past success there.

I don't understand why Maddon would want to tweak anything right now, given the Rays' dominance in this series. Being up 3-1 gives him that luxury, certainly, but he makes this change at the risk of giving the Red Sox the slightest bit of momentum, something that could prove huge dividends -- even at Tropicana Field.

By Tom Heleba  |  October 15, 2008; 12:14 PM ET
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Next: NLCS Game 5: What to Watch For


FWIW, looks like Sheinin has a baseball chat starting up on the site.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 15, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Tom - It isn't much to stick my neck out on an anonymous board, but I think both Kazmir and Shields will be hit the next two games, provided there are two more. Kazmir has been ineffective since June. I don't believe Kaz has the control to pitch to patient hitters. Kazmir is the Anti-Sonnanstine whenit comes to walks and pitch counts. Shields I believe has been hit in the head to head games this year.

No promises about either Dice-K or Beckett in those games, and really no promises about there even being a game 6. The Rays seem to have some patience to go with everything else they have, so Dice-K may end up with one of his short outings, like Beckett and Lester's last starts.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 15, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: hmm | October 16, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Nice graphic fromthe Globe comparing Kazmir and Dice-K's stats vs. tonights opponents, pitching tendencies, and opposing hitters stats vs. each of them.

Kaz's problem starts have mostly been at the Trop v. the Red Sox this year. Shows Madden's thinking process. His last two starts vs. Boston have not been pretty. Dice-K has been mostly effective this year v. Rays, except one start in July. Not in the graphic but Dice-K is a better road pitcher than home this year.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 16, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I love all these comparisons to past Red Sox teams (just like all the arguments that the Sox are both full of young talent and experienced at the same time). Unfortunately this isn't the same team -- Manny and Schilling are gone; Ortiz, Varitek and Beckett might as well be gone. Sorry Tom, not gonna happen this year.

Posted by: Come On | October 16, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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