There’s been a lot of pressure from the fan-base and media in Boston to start Josh Beckett on 3 days rest instead of Tim Wakefield for game 4, now that the Sox are down 2 games to 1.
Terry Francona and all the Red Sox staff have stuck by their original plan to have Wakefield start.
I think this will actually be a psychological lift for the team. It certainly is for Wakefield and Mirabelli.
I think the team will respond by feeling the urgency to prove their manager right, and they’ll go out and score a bunch of runs.
I also heard someone on the radio saying Ellsbury should start in place of Coco Crisp, because he’ll help the offense. My argument to that is two-fold. Firstly, the offense hasn’t been a problem in the playoffs, except in the very last game. Secondly, Coco Crisp played gold-glove caliber defense all year in a key position, and is more familiar with The Jake’s outfield than any other Red Sox outfielder (I suppose you could argue that Manny played more there, but that was a long time ago), since Crisp played there as his home park as recently as 2 years ago (2005).
Crisp’s defense will be better than Ellsbury’s. Also, Ellsbury is a rookie, and likely to get the typical rookie "tightening-up" that happens in the playoffs. It’s happening to Pedroia. You can’t guarantee that Ellsbury will do any better offensively than Crisp has.
It’s not worth the bad message it sends and the bad vibe it would generate if Ellsbury started in place of Crisp.
Another argument was made that Kielty should start in place of Drew because he has good numbers against Byrd, while Drew is only something like 2 for 10 against him. That might happen, but is not likely because Kielty also has good numbers against Sabathia, who’ll pitch the next game.
It should be a good matchup of veteran starters. It’s harder to predict how these starters will do, especially in Wakefield’s case, since he’s been off for so long. I think the Sox offense will kick back into gear, and Wakefield’s knuckleball might be just the thing in the playoffs to throw off a young team that’s feeling confident and might have trouble relaxing enough to wait on the knuckleball. Aggressive swingers fare poorly against the knuckleball.
I think this will be a high scoring game, with the Red Sox getting the advantage. Figure 7-5, Boston.