Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jake, Dice-K's Contract, and Wakefield or Beckett


1. It's interesting to note that Joe Borowski pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning. It seems like that is a rare occurance. In fact, during the regular season, of JoBo's 45 saves, only 15 times did he get three up, three down. It's great that he picked last night to do it again.

2. Kenny Lofton's two-run pizza in the second was his first homer in 202 at bats as an Indian in 2007. He is playing like it's 1995 again and has seemed to found a home in left. Lofton, the king of one-year contracts, is a free agent at the end of the year. The way he has jelled with this team and has provided such a spark to the bottom of the order, does Shapiro bring him back for another year when you have youngsters Ben Francisco and Shin-Soo Choo and veterans David Dellucci and Jason Michaels already in the fold for next year?

3. Daisuke Matsuzaka was the talk of the offseason. With the mystique of the "gyro-ball" and the domination of the World Baseball classic, Dice-K was involved in a bitter bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox. The Sox won by posting a $51 million fee JUST TO NEGOTIATE with the kid. In the end, agent Scott Boras squeezed every last dollar out of GM Theo Epstein, and Dice-K received a five year, $62 million contract without throwing one single pitch in the majors. While he started off well, Dice-K was 5-6 with 5.19 ERA after the All Star break. He couldn't get out of the fifth last night, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks. In two October starts, opponents are hitting .317 against him. He is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. Not exactly worth $113 million.

4. With Matsuzaka putting the Sox in a 2-1 hole, they turn to the ancient knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to save their season instead of postseason master Josh Beckett on three days rest. I believe this is a huge mistake by manager Terry Francona. The last time Beckett went on short rest was the 2004 World Series. In Yankees Stadium, he pitched a complete game shutout. Wakefield three postseason starts against the Tribe weren't pretty - he has given up 15 runs in 8 2/3 innings. Its expected to be much cooler with a chance for rain showers in Cleveland tonight, which won't help the knuckler.

5. Eric Wedge went with Trot Nixon in right last night in place of Franklyn Gutierrez. While it didn't affect the outcome of the game (especially since Wedge went to Franky G in the 7th for defensive purposes), I still think it was a mistake. Trot had his moment, now its time for him to take his rightful place on the bench.

6. Enough superlatives cannot be said about Jake Westbrook's performance last night. Of his 104 pitches, 66 of them were for strikes. He was ahead of seemingly every hitter. "Jake was aggressive," said Indians manager Eric Wedge. "Obviously, they've got an outstanding lineup over there, but Jake did a good job controlling the ballgame." "That's what you have to do against these guys," said Westbrook. "They're very patient. If you start out, 1-0, against everybody, it's not to your advantage. I just tried to get ahead tonight."

7. Have the Indians ever has a more dominant reliever than Rafael Betancourt? Seriously, other than Jose Mesa in 95, I cannot remember ever feeling supreme confidence when a Tribe pitcher was on the mound. His importance to this team cannot be overlooked. He may be the real MVP. You know you felt better when it was The Realtor facing Manny and Ortiz last night rather than Borowski.

A Scene, a Feeling, a Ballgame Not Soon to be Forgotten - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Lofton's Shot Recalls Falls Past - Bill Livingston. Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ortiz, Ramirez go Quiet in Night - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal

Sink or Swim - Albert Chen, si.com

Westbrook Gets Agressive, Dice-K's Late Collapse - Tom Verducci, si.com

Dice-K Fails in October - Howard Bryant, espn.com

Westbrook Achieves Sink-Cess - Jerry Crasnick, espn.com

Million Dollar Ace Adds Up to Zilch for Sox - Scott Miller, cbssportsline.com

Babying Beckett Puts Sox in a Bind - Ken Rosenthal, foxsports.com

Tito Pleads: it's Beckett in the Fifth - Michael Silverman, Boston Herald

This Test is a Big Challenge - Tony Massarotti, Boston Herald

Veteran Wakefield is Game for This Start - Amelie Benjamin, Boston Globe

Cuffed in Cleveland - Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe

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