Now we've got a series.
Suddenly, we've got ourselves a series. Red Sox fans were starting to act like the team was the New England Patriots, expecting a win every time the Sox took the field. Now, after that heart-wrenching loss Saturday night (and Sunday morning) we've got a little angst to go along with our baseball viewing.
It's the playoffs, and that's the way it should be.
Now every decision is scrutinized, like the one to bring Tim Wakefield to the mound in Game 4 of what is now a best-of-five series with the first two games in Cleveland. During Sunday's off-day press conference, Terry Francona made it clear that he is not considering a move to bring Josh Beckett into that game.
Beckett would be pitching on three days' rest after throwing a mere 80 pitches on Friday night in Game 1. Pitching Tuesday night would allow him to come back for a possible Game 7 on a full four days' rest.
Instead, Terry Francona is sticking with his plan, and expecting the depth of the team's rotation to pay off. it worked during the season, as the Sox won their first division title in 12 years.
Tim Wakefield hasn't pitched in two weeks, and hasn't been dominant since Labor Day weekend, when he missed a start with a sore back. He's only won one game since. Now his shoulder is aching as well.
Red Sox fans believe the Sox have the best staff in baseball. After splitting a pair with each team's top two starters getting a shot, this series could come down to who has the deepest rotation. It's Daisuke Matsuzaka against Jake Westbrook tonight, and Wakefield against Paul Byrd tomorrow.
Cleveland showed incredible resiliency Saturday night, coming back to tie the game twice before becoming the first road team to win an extra-innings playoff game in the history of Fenway Park. Now, the Sox have to show the baseball world what kind of resiliency they have. And Matsuzaka and Wakefield will be called on to lead the way.
Let's open up the post-season e-mailbag....
Might sound dumb - but do we have the offense to get this done?
We're not going to get 7 walks every game, nor are we going to get to the BP every time. The SOX have a lot of problems with RISP and many one run games, and if you include the one run games (3-2) win or lose, this adds up to OFFENSE problems to me. And when they face DEEP SP they seem to lose, so, do they have what it takes?
Frankii & Sheri, Pasadena Calif.
A: Not quite sure what all the initials stand for, but I think I got the gist of it. Yes, I think the Sox have the offense to win it all, and I think you've seen it here in the post-season. They've scored 35 runs in five post-season games, an average of seven runs a game. And that's without seeing a fourth starter yet. They showed incredible patience and plate discipline against Carmona Saturday night, and may look back with regret on letting that game get away.
Any time a starter goes deep into the game there is trouble for the other team, not just for the Sox. It stands to reason if a starter goes deep, it's because he's pitching well. Again, this is where Boston's patient approach has been such a key: the Sox haven't seen a starter go beyond six innings in a game yet this post-season!
For every home game, there is a gentleman sitting in the first row, last seat on the right by the stairs, right behind the (right-handed) hitters. He is a nice looking man, round face, darkish hair... is he someone connected with the Red Sox? He is shown on TV more than ANYONE else during the Red Sox games! Just wondering who he was.... thanks!
Sue Eastford, Hadlyme, Conn.
A: His name is Jeremy Kapstein, and he holds the title of Senior Advisor/ Baseball Projects with the Red Sox. He was one of the first "super agents" in the game, and was once ranked as one of the two most powerful people in the world of sports by a national wire service. He worked with Larry Lucchino during their days in San Diego with the Padres, and has followed Lucchino here to Boston. As I've often told him, he gets more air time than I do!
Tom, Eric Gagne appears to extend his index finger when throwing a curveball. Doesn't this tip the batter as to what pitch is coming?
James Walker, Bow, NH
A: There has been talk of that, and it's something Gagne has supposedly worked on. Not sure it's worth losing much sleep over, though -- I can't imagine we'll see Gagne again this post-season (at least not in any meaningful innings.)
Did Youk guarantee himself the gold glove with an errorless season at first base?
A: I think so. It's still amazing to think back to the start of last year, when the Sox brought in J.T. Snow as defensive insurance in case Youkilis couldn't handle the switch from first base. It hasn't been a problem, and this off-season Youk should have a nice, shiny new mitt for the trophy case.
Not a question, but just wanted to complement you and all the NESN folks on another great season of bringing the Sox into our homes. Hats off to you, Remy, Don, Tina and all the rest.
Michelle, Manchester, NH
A: Thanks, and we're not done yet. We're hoping to be here in studio until the end of the month at least!