Monday, October 15, 2007

Game Time

Here we are, Game Three at Jacobs Field. Jake Westbrook vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka. ALCS baseball in Cleveland for the first time since 1998. The crowd will be electric. The weather will be crisp, but not too cold (The bug jokes are such an old bit). I cannot wait, even though my real job would like to make me feel otherwise.

What's going to happen? Here's my takes and predictions:

The Tribe gets to Dice-K early and often and jump out with three or four runs in the first three innings. Jake gets through the top two but again cannot get out David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Its 4-2 by the middle innings thanks to Ryan Garko, Jhonny Peralta, and Kenny Lofton. The way the Red Sox lineup swings the bat and shows incredible restraint at the plate, Westbrook will get to the 100 pitch mark by the sixth. This will once again become a battle of the bullpens, but we will see the real Rafael Perez tonight. Perez and Rafael Betancourt will mow down the Sox before turning it over to Joe Borowski. Luckily, the Tribe will have scored an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. JoBo gives up a run and puts another two on base, before closing it out. Tribe wins 5-4 and takes a 2-1 lead in the series.

Buster Olney from brought up an interest point about the Tribe hitters. I couldn't agree more and have been saying it for months - we are a fastball hitting team, first and foremost.

The Yankees' advance scouts advised the team's pitching staff that the Indians are an extraordinary collection of fastball hitters, and at the same time, they are vulnerable to off-speed pitches -- curves, sliders and changeups in the lower half of the strike zone. The only hitter who is more dangerous against off-speed stuff, they advised, is third baseman Casey Blake.

More Good news: Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said no matter what happens tonight, he is going with Tim Wakefield in Game Four tomorrow night. That is music to my ears. The knuckler never floats as well in cold weather and his record against the Indians is not great. (readers: email me what those numbers are, i cannot for the life of me find them. I'm sure they'll be all over the papers tomorrow).

Red Sox Mettle Will be Tested - Howard Bryant,

Its's Time to put Ineffective Eric on Ice - Steve Buckley, Boston Herald

Heat on Sox, Dice-K - John Donovan,

Nixon an Unlikely Hero - Albert Chen,

Pen Bails out Tribe Again - Jim Ingraham, Lorain Morning Journal

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