ALCS Game 3: Westbrook leads Tribe over Sox, 4-2


Give credit to the Indians, they showed up focused and ready to play tonight. Jake Westbrook contained the Red Sox to two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, better than I thought him capable of.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was tagged with the loss, but he actually didn’t pitch too badly in this one. Besides trying to be too fine again and using too many pitches, he basically made one mistake to Kenny Lofton, and walked one too many batters (Grady Sizemore in the 5th). Not much you can do when Cleveland is scoring off of grounders to second. Dustin Pedroia made a tremendous effort on that turn at second, but give Travis Hafner credit for running it out and being safe at first. True, Lofton should not be hitting homers off of anyone, but that was a bad pitch.

Given that, I lay most of the blame tonight on the bats. Come on guys, what are you doing? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many pop-ups in a game before, and it was sickening. They are making the Indians’ bullpen look really good, and I’m hearing people like John Mederparel of WEEI claiming that their pen is deeper than ours. I don’t think so.

Mike Timlin looked good tonight, which is a good sign for us… What a difference when Manny Delcarmen doesn’t overthrow and can get his curveball over! Tonight he came on and struck out Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta back-to-back. His fastball was ratcheted down to 94-95 mph instead of 97 like last time, and he was basically unhittable. Let’s see some more of that Manny, what do you say?

When they brought Rafael Betancourt back out tonight for the 8th, I thought for sure we’d do something against him, with his arm tired from his longest outing of the year, and the team fresh off of seeing his fastball Saturday. Another long Kevin Youkilis at-bat was wasted, and David Ortiz‘s laser was caught in right, thanks to the defensive shift. Meh.

McCarver moment of the game: Babbling on about Delcarmen’s fastball-changeup combo. I have no clue how you mistake a 12-6 curve for a changeup.

The Red Sox need a win tomorrow pretty badly, to take the home-field advantage back and avoid getting down 3-1. They will send Tim Wakefield to the mound to face the Indians’ Paul Byrd. Wakefield makes his first appearance of the post-season, after being sidelined for the ALDS with a sore back. The Red Sox hit .304/.377/.478 versus finesse pitchers this season, and Jacobs Field is a pretty good home run park, so I’d expect a relatively high-scoring affair tomorrow. I still think the Red Sox have the better bullpen, and that will be exposed sooner or later in this series. Joe Borowski can’t keep this up forever.

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