Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Big Papi!!!

Wow! The ALCS has certainly changed since Saturday night, when the Yankees demolished Boston 19-8. At that point, most people thought the series was over. I figured Boston might be able to win one game and force a 5th game on Monday. Even at this point, the Yankees should be a sizable favorite to win this series tonight or tomorrow. But the Red Sox performance has made this a very worthwhile ALCS to view.

Sunday and Monday were two of the best baseball games I’ve ever seen. Both lasted over five hours in duration. Fortunately, I didn’t watch every inning. I’ve seen the games from about the fifth inning until its conclusion. One man jumps out at me as being a tremendous baseball player. Red Sox DH David Ortiz has hit three game winning hits so far in the playoffs. Each one of them came in extra innings. He hit a HR to win the decisive Game 3 of the Angels series. A two-run HR won it for Boston in Game 4, and a Texas leaguer did it in Game 5’s 14th Inning. He was even able to steal a base in extra innings, despite being erroneously called out by the umpire. The guy can’t run or field. All he does it hit baseballs and win games for this team.

Boston remains in an unenviable situation. Their season will come down to whether Curt Schilling can pitch tonight. He’s going to give it a try. In all honesty, he needs to pitch at least seven innings to give their bullpen a rest. They need a bullpen that can make it in a Game 7, if necessary. I assume that they’d go with Tim Wakefield, who pitched two innings yesterday, in a deciding Game 7. Bronson Arroyo would be going on three days rest, but he had to pitch an inning in last night’s extra inning contest. I have to say that this game could very well be a legendary baseball moment. If Schilling pitches well, he will go down as a baseball hero in Boston. A decent performance isn’t enough. Francona said that he has no pitch count placed on Schilling. My guess is that he’ll give it everything he has. I have no clue what happens if Schilling is forced out early. I’d venture to suggest that reliever Ramiro Mendoza would be used in long relief. Their bullpen has been decimated because of the 12 and 14 inning games.

Boston does have some advantages going. Jon Lieber is hittable, even after his masterpiece in Game 2. New York would have to throw Kevin Brown or Javier Vazquez in Game 7. Neither has shown much in these playoffs. New York has been hurt by a lack of left-handed relief pitching. Felix Heredia is their only southpaw coming out of the bullpen. Before last night, he had hit two of the three batters he’s faced in the postseason. Boston has a specialty left-handed pitcher in Mike Myers, who got a crucial out last night against Hideki Matsui. Who can the Yankees put in there to retire David Ortiz in a crucial spot?

I’m sticking with my Sox in 7 prediction. It’s too late to turn back now. I’m in jeopardy of losing both my series. Houston won last night’s game with a 9th Inning Jeff Kent HR. The Cardinals will have to face Roger Clemens at least once more in the series, if it makes it to Game 7. Roy Oswalt could come out of the bullpen on short rest. I haven’t followed the NLCS too much. Ironically, FOX didn’t pick up the game until the 8th Inning last night. The Sox/Yankees ran late, so FOX put the game on FX. I flipped it on occasionally, but mostly watched the ALCS. It’s a shame, since the Astros, led by Carlos Beltran, have orchestrated a tremendous comeback.

Tonight is the most excited I’ve ever been about a baseball game. The groundwork has been laid for a truly classic contest of wills. Boston needs a Willis Reed like performance out of Schilling to force a final game on Wednesdauy.


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