2009 ALDS: More info and analysis

Unsurprisingly, the New York Yankees have elected to start their Divisional Series tomorrow, so that means the Red Sox will play game 1 against the Angels on Thursday. Here’s what the schedule looks like:

Game 1: Thu @ LAA, 9:37PM
Game 2: Fri @ LAA, 9:37 PM
Game 3: Sun @ BOS, 12:07 PM
Game 4: Mon @ BOS afternoon (if needed)
Game 5: Wed @ LAA

Red Sox roster

Pitchers (10)
Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz
Jonathan Papelbon, Billy Wagner, Hideki Okajima, Daniel Bard, Takashi Saito, Ramon Ramirez, Manny Delcarmen

Positional (14)
Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lowell, Casey Kotchman, Jed Lowrie
J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay, David Ortiz, Rocco Baldelli/Josh Reddick, Joey Gathright]

That leaves one spot up for grabs. The Sox could add Daisuke Matsuzaka to avoid pitching Lester on short rest in Game 4, or add another middle infielder, given the shaky status of Lowrie.

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15-9: Bullpen spoils Masterson’s debut, 7-5

Justin Masterson looked good in his Major League debut. Really good. He went a full six innings, showcasing his sinker, slider and changeup, and held a pretty good Angels lineup to just one run. He left the game set up for the win, the score 3-1, Red Sox. But the Angels pulled a “Boston Red Sox” and rallied for a four-run 7th, and added one more each in the 8th and 9th frames, punishing the Boston bullpen, resulting in a 7-5 loss.

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ALDS Game 3: Sox sweep on strength of Schilling

The Red Sox took game 3 of the ALDS today in Los Angeles 9-1, completing the third sweep of this Divisional round of the playoffs. An inspired outing by Curt Schilling paved the way, and the Sox offense exploded in the 8th to pad the lead late in the game.

Schilling needed 100 pitches to go seven scoreless innings, limiting the Angels to just six hits and a walk, despite rarely touching 90 mph on the radar gun. I think Schilling should definitely pitch second in the next series, not just based on his performance and experience, but also because his style is now in stark contrast to Beckett’s hard-throwing style. He’s making a pretty strong case for why the Sox should bring him back next season. Said Schilling:

As a young pitcher, I had seven or eight more miles an hour than I do now. It’s different now, a different approach.

Jered Weaver pitched well, giving up only two runs on back-to-back homers by David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. But the Boston offense did an excellent job of waiting him out, and he was gone after five innings of work. That allowed us to get into the bullpen early and resulted in the big 7-run inning late. It’s good to see Papi and Manny both raking once again; it feels like old times.

The Angels came into the series pretty banged up, and with an ailing Vladimir Guerrero and a half-blind Garrett Anderson, I don’t know where they could have gotten any punch out of this lineup. Getting home-field advantage was a key to our taking this series so easily, and we now have 9 straight postseason wins over the Angels. I kind of feel bad for them, they had a great season; but I always thought they kind of overachieved this year, too.

The whole lineup got into it, our big guns are swinging well, we came out of this series healthy, Hideki Okajima looked very good again. Maybe the only piece of bad news: Eric Gagne was shaky yet again today, giving up a double to Maicer Izturis, which became the Angels’ only run in the bottom of the 9th.

This is the best possible situation for our Red Sox, giving us a couple of extra days for some players to finish getting healthy and rested, and allowing us to start the next series with a fresh Jason Varitek and Josh Beckett on the mound.

Meanwhile, the Yankees managed to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians today. An offensive surge in the middle innings netted them an 8-4 victory. Roger Clemens did not appear sharp in his return to the starting rotation. With the lead at 2-1, we find ourselves in a strange situation. Whoever the victor, we want the series to go out to a full five games, so that our next victim will be worn out and unable to put their ace on the mound. So does that mean we actually root for the Yankees totake the next one? Well, let’s not go that far.