Thursday, October 16, 2008


When you look at the 2008 ALCS, it is still very winnable for the Sox. They simply have to play the complete opposite of how they've played in Games 1 thru 4. Here are the keys to any Sox success in the next 3 games:

Matsuzaka - Beckett - Lester
That's not a bad trio to have in 3 must win games. If the Sox are to win the ALCS, it will be because of these three. They MUST have good starts, and go deep into games. Anything less than 7 innings is bad. And 6 or less is godawful. The Sox bullpen can't handle so much exposure. If the Sox don't get three good, deep starts from these guys, Tampa wins.

Ortiz - Drew - Varitek
The three biggest drags on the offense, apart from Jacoby Ellsbury, who has a ready replacement in Coco Crisp. Ortiz is 1 for 14 (.071), Drew 2 for 13 (.154), and Varitek 0 for 10. These three are guilty of breaking up more rallies than the Ohio National Guard. In their 37 combined ABs, they've struck out 12 times.

Ortiz and Drew are key cogs in the middle of the lineup. It's hard to see how well Pedroia (.467), Bay (.400), and Youkilis (.386) are hitting because Ortiz and Drew are killing their innings.

.156 vs. .361
Those are the averages each team has put up with runners in scoring position this series. I don't need to tell you which number belongs to which team. The Sox are 5 for 32 with RISP, the Rays are 13 for 36. This trend must immediately change for the Sox to win Game 5, let alone the series. Sox hitters MUST come through with runners on. But more importantly, Sox pitching MUST bear down when Tampa gets baserunners.

If it's a close game in the 8th, Papelbon has to be brought in. No Okajima, no Masterson, and certainly no Delcarmen. 4, 5, 6, even 7 out Saves might be required. It's time to use up whatever's left in Papelbon's tank.


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