Pitching staff to shake out this week

This is going to be a big week for our pitching staff. We expect at least one roster change, if not more by the end of the week. Let me summarize:

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2008 ALDS Game 1: Lester shines, 4-1

It was a well-pitched game by John Lackey, but a 2-run home run by Jason Bay would put the Sox ahead to stay. Welcome to the playoffs, Jason. Jon Lester settled down to throw seven strong innings, and the Sox pushed across two more runs against Scot Shields in the 9th to seal the deal. 1 game to none, Red Sox.

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Linkage: 2008 ALDS Previews

Alright, time to get your postseason on. I won’t give a full treatment here, since there are already so many excellent previews out there. Here are a few of my favorites:

Rich Lederer and Patrick Sullivan talk Boston-Los Angeles ALDS at Baseball Analysts.

Another article on key players and matchups over at Baseball Digest Daily Blog.

David Pinto looks at how this season’s games between the two clubs turned out.

If you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic as a Red Sox fan, there are a few over at The Hardball Times.

Baseball Think Factory’s got a good summary paragraph or two.

As for my thoughts: If we had a healthy Sox team, I’d say we win in 4. You can’t ignore the best run differential in baseball (by a big margin). But there are other factors. The latest I have heard is that J.D. Drew feels “100% ready” to go, while Mike Lowell can hit but is still hobbling a bit in the field. Add in Josh Beckett’s oblique strain and pitching just once in the 5-game series, and suddenly things aren’t so clear any more. The health of these three is critical to the outcome of this series. Read more of this post

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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15-8: Short-staffed Sox come up short, 6-4

The latest casualty on the long list of flu-ridden Red Sox is Daisuke Matsuzaka. He was a late scratch form yesterday’s start, and lefty Jon Lester had to make his first start ever on short rest. While it was not a pretty performance, it was enough to keep us in the game. Reliever Craig Hansen (0-1) was called up from Pawtucket, and pitched fairly well for 1 2/3 innings, but ultimately was pinned for the loss, as he gave up the go-ahead home run to Casey Kotchman in the 6th inning. Given the Sox’ recent track record, I was almost expecting another late-inning comeback, but the Los Angeles bullpen shut the door on this game, 6-4.

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15-7: Ellsbury, Pedroia lead in comeback win against the Halos, 7-6

On the first warm night in Fenway, David Pauley was called in to make an emergency start for Josh Beckett, who was pulled for “neck stiffness”. There isn’t much detail about how serious the injury is, but it is being said that Beckett has the flu bug that’s been going around. On a night when the Sox offense generated 7 runs on 16 hits and a walk, he was good enough that the Sox pulled it out yet again for their 6th straight win, 7-6.

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