Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bend It Like Beckett

Josh Beckett doesn't lose in October. In the 2003 World Series, he went to the Bronx on three days' rest and pitched a complete game shutout. Every poll in the last week shows that most of America believes that the Yankees will get to the World Series. But first, they must get through the Red Sox, who beat the Angels last night off another complete game shutout from Beckett. New Yorkers have to be feeling a little vulnerable today, because they remember all too well how dominating Beckett can be. Now, he's even better than he was in 2003.

That Game Six win at Yankee Stadium was the last time Beckett pitched in a postseason game. That's back-to-back postseason complete game shutouts for the Boston ace. Who was the last player to pitch consecutive postseason shutouts? Boston's Game Three starter, Curt Schilling. After giving up a lead off single to Chone Figgins, Beckett went on to retire 19 straight batters. He had no walks, which was mostly due to him throwing first-ball strikes to nearly every batter. Nobody could have touched him last night.

Boston goes up 1-0 against the Angels, who play again at Fenway on Friday. That game's match up will be Dice-K versus Kelvim Escobar. If the Japanese phenom can do what was expected of him in the spring, the Red Sox are definitely the team to beat this year.

Lackey-ing Confidence

On the flip-side of the game, Angels pitcher John Lackey was rocked early. Kevin Youkilis, the second batter he faced, homered to left field in the first inning. In the third inning, David Ortiz slammed one to right field, bringing in Youkilis, who was on second with a double. Two batters later, Mike Lowell drove in Manny Ramirez.

After the third, Boston couldn't seem to buy a hit, but they didn't need to. If they can get runs early enough, their pitching staff will do the rest. In two starts against Boston this year, Lackey has an 8.38 ERA. Against everybody else, his ERA is 3.01. If the Angels don't get some production from their starting pitchers, this will be a short series. Friday's starter, Kelvin Escobar, who has not faced Boston this year, was 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA. With similar starts to Lackey, Anaheim cannot afford a similar performance.


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