I’ve had some technical difficulties lately, so I wasn’t able to post the last couple of days.
I got the last prediction wrong. *Some* of the Sox did indeed suffer a letdown after their big, late celebration Friday night, but JD Drew had to get home to his wife who’s 8 months pregnant, and their son who is in a brace after some surgery this year, so he had his head on straight Saturday night, and came through with a 3 run homer late in the game, which made the difference.
Of course, once they clinched best record on Saturday, the motivation to win on Sunday was gone, and they just focussed on getting people ready for the playoffs, resting the injured and playing the folks who needed to play. So the loss on Sunday was very predictable (and would have been predicted here had I been able to get through).
Tim Wakefield is off of the first round playoff roster, so he can rest his back for a week. He will likely be on the 2nd round playoff roster.
Surprisingly, the Sox are carrying 3 catchers. I guess that gives them flexibility to pinch hit or pinch run for the catcher, although Varitek has started hitting well in the past week, and he’s a good baserunner (not fast, but he hustles and is smart and alert), so I can’t see why you’d take him out of the game. He’s even a switch hitter! I guess if he gets injured they don’t want to be down to no backup catchers, since that would eliminate pinch hitting or pinch running in a key situation.
The pitching matchup for game 1 is Beckett (the 20-game winner & candidate for the Cy Young award) vs. Lackey, who has struggled at Fenway Park. The Red Sox didn’t even have to travel anywhere. They had 2 days off to just do workouts and relax. It’ll seem more like another game to them than it will to the Angels. The Red Sox should be able to relax more and get into their game more quickly. There are just too many things in the Red Sox favor for game 1.
Big advantage to the Red Sox for the first game. Look for a comfortable win, in the 7-3 range.
You should be seeing Manny back in the 4-spot behind Papi, which would put JD Drew 5th, and Mike Lowell 6th, to keep the Left-Right-Left-Right thing going. Look for Pedroia to be one of the first 2 in the lineup, with Youkilis or Crisp also up there. Either Crisp-Pedroia or Pedroia-Youkilis for the first 2. Look for the last 3 in the lineup to be Varitek, then Crisp or Youkilis, then Lugo.
And who could ask for a better bench than Ellsbury, Kielty, Cora, Hinske.
The only mystery for game 1 for me will be whether I can get home from work in time to see the first pitch!