Red Sox skipper Terry Francona could relate to the emotion Yankees manager Joe Torre showed yesterday when the Yankees clinched the American League East. After a season filled with injuries, obstacles, and uncertainty, Francona said he swelled with emotion when he got the word in the bottom of the fifth that Cleveland had lost and the Red Sox were in the postseason.
"I heard some of the things, not all of them, that Joe [Torre] said yesterday. I saw how emotional he was. As important as the game was today, when word filtered down and you see the scoreboard changing it's hard not to be emotional. It gets you. We care so much about what we're doing. You put so much into it with players, coaches, and front office. It kind of hits you at once and almost overwhelms you."
Francona said he had an idea the Sox might be in the playoffs when he heard screaming coming from the hallway. "I figured it was either that or Brady threw for a touchdown," joked the Red Sox manager.
The Red Sox manager who came up in the Chicago White Sox organization as a skipper, managing Chicago's Double A affiliate, said he feels the series -- like all postseason baseball -- will come down to pitching. Francona confirmed that Matt Clement and David Wells will start Games 1 and 2, respectively for Boston. The odd man out of the rotation is Bronson Arroyo, who pitched an inning of preparation in today's 10-1 win.
"It's not just about fairness because Bronson deserves a start," said Francona. "But Bronson can impact our ball club in a lot of different ways out of the bullpen. You watch, before it's all said and done he'll be a big part of what we're doing."
-- Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein saluted the job Francona did this season getting the Sox into the postseason: "We had a lot of things go wrong from an injury perspective, when that happens a team can get down on itself," said Epstein. "Terry didn't allow that to happen. He pushed all the right buttons and kept the spirits up. His fine managerial work really revealed itself over the length of the season. And once again he's in the postseason -- two for two. I thought he did a great job."
-- Epstein had a great quip on the somewhat subdued celebration in the Sox clubhouse: "Even Idiots can grow up," said the GM. "It should be subdued. We have our work cut out for us."
-- Francona wanted Mike Timlin on the mound for the final out of the clincher: "We really wanted him to be on the mound when the game was over," said Francona. "My worst nightmare was him having to stay out there for 30 pitches. It didn't happen, which was good. I think he deserved to be out there when we won." The appearance was Timlin's 81st of the season, a new club record.
Here are some interesting notes from today's game:
-- With their performances today, Manny Ramirez (2-for-2, 3 RBI, 2 BB) and David Ortiz (1 for 2, RBI, 2 BB) finished the season with 144 and 148 RBI, respectively. The combined total of 292 RBI is the second highest in team history. Ted Williams and Vern Stephens combined for 318 RBI in 1949. Williams and Stephens each had 149 RBI that season to tie for the Major League lead. Ortiz and Ramirez placed 1-2 in the majors in RBI with Ramirez tying Texasís Mark Teixeira for second place.
-- Doug Mirabelliís pinch-hit three-run homer in the sixth was the Red Sox first pinch-hit homer of the season. It was the first pinch-hit homer for the Sox since Sept. 14, 2004, when Trot Nixon clubbed one versus Tampa Bay.
-- With the Sox 10-1 victory over the Yankees Boston finished 95-67. The Red Sox have won at least 95 games for three straight seasons for the first time in club history. The Sox won 95 games in 2003 and 98 last season.