Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Game 5 Article

"You may be right
I may be crazy
Oh, but it just may be a lunatic you're looking for."

Ugh. Once again, the Sox looked awful in every stage of the game, and now their facing elimination, with all of the momentum going against them. I did a little article for Sports Central, and I'll probably be doing a post after Game 5 whether we win or lose. For now, I hope you enjoy this one. It's short, but talking about the Sox getting bounced from the playoffs is about the most depressing thing ever, so I kept things pretty succinct.

Down 3-1, Sox Look To Their Ace To Stay Alive

Facing elimination, the Red Sox will turn to Josh Beckett on Thursday to strafe off elimination from the baseball postseason. Beckett has been the team’s most reliable pitcher all season, and now, with the Sox on the ropes, Boston will put its collective faith on the 27-year old to get the series back to Boston, and keep the Sox playing in October.

The Red Sox entered the season as one of the favorites to win the World Series, but after an abysmal showing in their last two games at Jacobs Field, they find themselves in the precarious situation of win, or go home. This is not the first, and will likely not be the last time that this franchise will be in this situation, and they have actually some recent success in these spots.

Down 0-2 in the 2003 ALDS, Boston rallied back to beat Oakland in three straight games, sending the team to the ALCS, where they inevitably lost to the Yankees in seven games. Then, in the 2004 ALCS, the Sox were facing elimination against the Yankees, and after losing Game 3 19-8, and going down three games to none. However, with some heroics, the Sox made baseball history, becoming the first team in baseball history to win a seven-game series after being down 0-3.

Beckett is no stranger to the postseason. In seven career starts in the playoffs, Beckett has gone 4-2 with a 1.87 ERA, including two wins this postseason. In 2003, Beckett, then 23, won the World Series MVP after winning the series clincher for the Marlins on two days rest. In three career starts in championship series, Beckett is 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA, and won the first game of this year’s ALCS at Fenway, guiding the team to a 10-3 victory, going six innings and giving up four hits.

Opposing Beckett will be his opponent from Game 1, C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia got rocked in their first matchup, giving up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings. Even so, it has become clear that one of these two pitchers will win this year’s AL Cy Young Award, so relying on Sabathia to copy his performance from Game 1 will be a bit of a stretch, especially considering the venue. The Indians fans have been going crazy since Game 3, and it seems like this trend will carry over into the fifth game, where the Indians could go to the World Series for the first time since 1997, and look to capture its first World Series title in 60 years.

The Sox’ offense has been put in neutral ever since Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell hit back-to-back home runs off of Rafael Perez in Game 2, and have been outscored 18-5 since that point. While they have shown hints of life in the past two games, with a two-run home run by Jason Varitek in Game 3 to close the deficit to two runs, and back-to-back-to-back homers in Game 4 to make the score 7-3, they have been unable to do anything else to capitalize on those offensive outbursts.

Cleveland has scored first in each of the four games of the series. In addition, the Sox were able to get to the two pitchers, Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, who were the headliners of the Indians’ staff, and have been completely ineffective against Cleveland’s other two starters, Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd, who combined to give up four runs over 11 2/3 innings in their wins.

It seems like the seven-run 12th inning in Game 2 by the Indians has been a back-breaker for the Sox, whose bullpen was completely exposed after their big guns, Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon, were used earlier. With their best pitcher going in what could be the final game of the season for the Sox, it will be up to Beckett to keep Boston in the game, and also, it will be up to the offense to make a turnaround and send the series back to Fenway Park, where Boston has had so much success this season.

That's all for now. Take care. Peace.


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