League Championship Series Update
- Updated: October 13, 2008
In today’s matinee, the Red Sox will host the Rays at 96 year old Fenway Park in game 3 of their ALCS showdown. The series is tied at 1 game a piece going into these 3 games in Boston. The Rays need to win only 1 game in order to bring this series back to Tampa Bay and Tropicana Field!
This year’s beast of the east might just be seen in the likeness of Boston‘s Jon Lester (sorry “Big Game“). Lester looks to be the equivalent of last year’s performance of Josh Beckett. He has not given up an earned run in this postseason so far and against the Rays this year, in 3 starts he pitched 20 innings allowing only 2 runs (0.90 ERA) on 18 hits, 6 walks while striking out the Rays 19 times (almost one batter per inning). Again, Lester has been a beast pitching at Fenway this year in his 17 starts. He posted an ERA of 2.49 in those 17 starts, including his no-hitter. Has he become Boston‘s Ace with Beckett not pitching like his usual post-season self? You decide.
He will go against the Rays‘ Matt Garza who saw 2008 as his first full season of pitching in the big leagues. In his 4 games against Boston this year he threw in 22 innings allowing 14 runs (an ERA of 4.50), 3 were unearned, while walking 7 and striking out 10, but gave up 4 long balls. He is the Rays third best pitcher this year, hence this game 3 start. His acquisition in the off season via trade (along with SS Jason Bartlett) with the Twins helped to secure their rotation and seemed to be the missing link toward that goal. Without him, they might not have won 97 games nor win the AL East ahead of Boston. He probably even gets better next year, but that’s a discussion for after the playoffs!
Bottom line on this game, if Lester continues to pitch as he has in the playoffs and like he has this year against the Rays and in his starts at Fenway, Boston should win this game. For this reason, the Rays will need to make sure this series does NOT go to a 7th game because that only pits them against Lester once again in that game and on regular rest.
*a Hat Tip goes to The Joy of Sox: Where The Water Is Always Dirty for their unknown help in the pitching stats to this ALCS match up. Thanks!
As this series moved to Los Angeles last night, so did the momentum, at least for a game. The Dodgers roared back from being down 2-0 and won game 3 by a score of 7-2 as the Philly bats went cold.
Tonight’s match up pits the Dodger‘s game 1 starter Derek Lowe pitching on 3 days rest against the Phillies mid-season acquisition from the A’s, Joe Blanton. Normally, pitching on 3 days rest would be a disadvantage, but as the experts have said numerous times, a sinker ball pitcher like Lowe actually pitches better when a little tired as this keeps their ball down, inducing the typical ground ball outs that are key to a sinkerballer’s success.
With that being said, how this game plays out really relies upon certain key players breaking out of their playoff slumps or not. Those slumping players belong to the Phillies and are Utley, Howard and Rollins. If they break out, even the tired sinker ball of Lowe can not hold them back. In fact, not many pitchers or teams can survive the Phillies line up when those 3 are on fire at the same time. Otherwise, the Dodgers have the advantage in today’s game 4 with the switch in momentum taken back last night.
The wild card here on the Dodgers lies with Lowe. He has proven to be a big game pitcher who just came up against a better pitcher in game 1. In this game, Lowe holds that honor. To make my previous point, all you have to do is see how Lowe performed back in 2004 with the Red Sox after being taken out of the post season rotation due to a less than typical Derek Lowe season. In the 2004 playoffs, while pitching out of the bullpen, Lowe came in to win the deciding games in the Divisional Series against the Angels (game 3), game 7 of the League Championship Series against the Yankees (where the Sox came back to win after being down 3-0) and also pitched game 4 against the Cardinals.
Bottom line is that I see the Dodgers evening this series at 2 game a piece after tonight. Do you agree? Why or why not?!