Baseball Today - October 8

Baseball Today - October 8

Baseball today - October 8
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD

Monday, Oct. 8

Cleveland at N.Y. Yankees (7:37 p.m. EDT).

Paul Byrd starts for the Indians against Game 1 loser Chien-Ming Wang as they try to finish off the Yankees.

STARS


Sunday

-Johnny Damon, Yankees, drove in four runs, including a go-ahead three-run homer, to help New York avoid elimination with an 8-4 win over Cleveland.

-Curt Schilling, Red Sox, allowed six hits in seven scoreless innings and Boston finished off a sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 9-1 win.

DOMINANCE

Curt Schilling pitched seven masterful innings, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez hit back-to-back homers and Boston completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 9-1 win on Sunday. Schilling raised his postseason record to 9-2 in 16 career starts while lowering his ERA to 1.93, having allowed only 25 earned runs in 116 1-3 innings.

SNAPPED

Alex Rodriguez stopped his postseason hitless streak at 18 at-bats with a second-inning single and also beat out an infield single in the New York Yankees' 8-4 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

TRICKY SOX

The Angels have lost nine straight playoff games to Boston following a 9-1 loss on Sunday and seven straight postseason games overall. The Red Sox beat the Angels in the last three games of the 1986 ALCS and swept them in the first round of the 2004 playoffs.

SPEAKING

''I don't think we're ready to see Roger Clemens' last steps off the mound, or Joe Torre's last game. We have a lot to play for.'' - Johnny Damon, after the Yankees rallied past Cleveland 8-4 Sunday night, closing within 2-1 in their first-round AL playoff series.

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Paul Byrd excited to get Game 4 start for Cleveland Indians
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Paul Byrd was hoping the Cleveland Indians could finish off a three-game sweep of New York. Now that the Yankees have sent their AL division series to a fourth game, he's happy he'll get a chance to stop them.

Byrd will oppose New York's Chien-Ming Wang at Yankee Stadium on Monday night with a chance to send Cleveland to its first AL championship series since 1998.

''I've got a little extra rest,'' said Byrd, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 27. ''I feel good, arm feels good. I'm looking forward to it.'''

Byrd has struggled against New York in his career, going 1-4 with a 4.82 ERA. He allowed seven runs and seven hits in two innings Aug. 11 in his only start against the Yankees this season.

He said the Bronx Bombers made a statement with their 8-4 win in Game 3 on Sunday night.

''(Their) offense showed a lot of signs of life,'' Byrd said.

While Byrd is plenty rested, Wang took the loss in Cleveland's 12-3 victory in Game 1 on Thursday. He allowed nine hits and eight runs in 4 2-3 innings.

Wang said he feels fine and the short rest shouldn't be an issue.

''The last time I faced Cleveland the ball was up, and tomorrow I'll try to get the ball down,'' he said.


CLUTCH MARTINEZ: Despite winning 96 games this season, the Cleveland Indians didn't have an obvious MVP candidate.

That doesn't mean everybody missed what catcher Victor Martinez accomplished.

The switch-hitting slugger batted .301 with 25 home runs, 40 doubles and 114 RBIs while providing stability and leadership behind the plate. At 28, he's already established himself as one of the rarest and most valuable commodities in baseball - a durable backstop with a big bat.

''I think he's one of the best catchers in the game. Especially if you look at the all-around game - he was second or third in regard to throwing out runners this year,'' Indians manager Eric Wedge said Sunday. ''That was the only thing he was ever really criticized for. So you talk about a guy going after something and getting better. Offensively, he is without a doubt one of the best hitting catchers in the game.''

Martinez is off to a great start in the playoffs, too, going 4-for-12 with a homer, a double and two RBIs in Cleveland's first three games against the New York Yankees.

''I can't say enough about us being able to count on him this year,'' Wedge said. ''Does he get the respect he deserves? I don't know. I don't get too caught up in it. His teammates and his peers in the game respect him, and there is nothing more important than that.''


GAGNE'S JOY: Reliever Eric Gagne has had a difficult time since joining Boston in midseason, but he seemed as happy as anyone in the Red Sox clubhouse after their series-clinching victory.

''It's very special,'' he said. ''I mean, I've been there with the Dodgers, but this is something else. This team's unbelievable and it's just an honor to be a part of it.''

Gagne saved 152 games for the Dodgers between 2002-04, but has only 27 since that time. He was 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 20 games with the Red Sox after they acquired him from the Texas Rangers on July 31.

The 31-year-old right-hander, who signed with the Rangers as a free agent, allowed the only Angels' run Sunday in Boston's 9-1 victory.

We know we're going to hit and score runs, but this team's been all about pitching,'' he said. ''Alex Cora told me that they had a great team atmosphere and great chemistry here. That's what it's all about and that's why I wanted to come here.''

Gagne and Cora were teammates with the Dodgers.


BAKER'S BIG HIT: Stay back, don't be too anxious and take what the pitcher gives.

With that approach at the plate, Colorado outfielder Jeff Baker became an unlikely hero.

His single off Philadelphia's J.C. Romero with two outs in the eighth brought home the winning run Saturday night in the Rockies' 2-1 win to complete a three-game sweep of the Phillies.

''I wasn't trying to do too much,'' said Baker, who hit just .222 in the regular season. ''We didn't need a home run there, I was just trying to get a base hit.''

Baker has bounced back after being struck in the helmet by a pitch from Chicago Cubs starter Jason Marquis on Aug. 10.

He was placed on the disabled list the next day with a mild concussion, but reinstated when rosters were expanded in early September.

''When I got hit in the face, that kind of put things in perspective and slowed me down a bit,'' Baker said. ''I've been pressing all year and obviously it's not where I want to be.''

Baker played a limited role following his return - mostly coming off the bench as a pinch hitter - but had a home run against Florida on Sept. 14.

Garrett Atkins, who scored the winning run on Baker's single through the right side, said he had a feeling Baker would come through.

''There's not a better guy that I want up in that spot,'' Atkins said. ''He got hurt, but we always believed he could hit.''

That's why manager Clint Hurdle had him on the postseason roster.

''I think he's a great kid,'' Hurdle said. ''The guys in here have embraced him. They (were) pulling for him like mad when he went up to the plate. We're very happy for him.''

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Preview: Indians at Yankees
ASSOCIATED PRESS

After looking flat in the first two games of the AL division series, the New York Yankees' offense is finally showing signs of life - and may be saving manager Joe Torre's job in the process.

The Yankees try to continue their push to the AL championship series and even their best-of-five division series with the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

With losses in the first two games of the ALDS, New York owner George Steinbrenner said before Sunday's Game 3 that Torre likely won't return as manager unless the Yankees reach the ALCS for the first time in three years.

"His job is on the line,' Steinbrenner was quoted in Sunday's editions of The Record of New Jersey. "I think we're paying him a lot of money. He's the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don't think we'd take him back if we don't win this series.'

New York responded by rallying from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Indians 8-4 in Game 3.

"This is a very uncomfortable time of year. It's an exciting time of year,' Torre said. "You understand there's no safety net.'

New York hopes to come back from an 0-2 hole - a feat it pulled off in a 2001 ALDS against Oakland. That team was one of four to recover from an 0-2 deficit in a five-game series since the postseason expanded in 1995.

The Yankees scored 968 runs during the regular season - 76 more than anyone else in the majors - but managed only four in the first two games of this series at Cleveland. New York batted .121 (8-for-66) in the losses at Jacobs Field, but had 11 hits - including its first back-to-back hits in the series - in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

"We know what we have to do. We know who's the boss around here, and we know how much we love Joe Torre,' said center fielder Johnny Damon, who hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning.

"We all love Joe Torre, and we would love for him to win another championship. I think Joe Torre is a guy who commands a lot of respect. He's meant so much to the Yankee organization. And, you know, we get to play for him at least another day and, hopefully, longer.'

Damon had three hits and drove in four runs on Sunday, but has struggled against Cleveland's Game 4 starter Paul Byrd (15-8, 4.59 ERA), going 3-for-19 (.158) lifetime.

Alex Rodriguez stopped his postseason hitless streak at 18 at-bats with a second-inning single and also beat out an infield hit. However, the New York third baseman is still just 6-for-54 (.111) with no RBIs in postseason play dating to a home run against Boston in the ALCS three years ago.

Meanwhile, Yankees captain Derek Jeter grounded into two double plays and was hitless in four at-bats on Sunday. Jeter is just 1-for-12 (.083) in the series, although he is 11-for-27 (.407) lifetime against Byrd.

The Yankees will send Chien-Ming Wang to the mound Monday on three days' rest, hoping to push the series back to Cleveland for a decisive Game 5.

Wang, who went 19-7 with a 3.70 ERA during the regular season, was pounded for eight runs, nine hits - including home runs by Victor Martinez and rookie Asdrubal Cabrera - and four walks in just 4 2-3 innings of a 12-3 loss in Game 1 on Thursday.

"I'm not afraid of Wang pitching against Cleveland again," Torre told the Yankees' official Web site after Game 1. "He didn't pitch his game tonight. You know, you win 19 games in this league, you certainly earn it. I'm certainly not going to shy away from him pitching again."

This will be the right-handed sinkerballer's first career start on three days' rest.

Byrd finished the regular season with his most wins since recording 17 for Kansas City in 2002, but had his worst start of the season against New York, as he was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in a season-low two innings during an 11-2 loss on Aug. 11.

The right-hander has not defeated the Yankees since his first career start against them in 1999, going 0-4 with a 4.87 ERA in seven starts since then.

Byrd finished up this regular season in disappointing fashion, going 1-3 with a 6.83 ERA in his final five starts. In his final regular-season outing, Byrd gave up four runs and 11 hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-2 loss to Seattle on Sept. 27.

He is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five career games - three starts - in postseason play.

The Indians will once again try to secure their first trip to the ALCS since 1998.

"I feel like we made a statement in Game 1, and I feel like they made a statement (Sunday), especially being down 3-0,' Byrd said.

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American League Division Series Preview

Monday, October 8th

New York Yankees (1-2) at Cleveland Indians (2-1), 7:37 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Chien-Ming Wang (0-1, 15.43) Cleveland - Paul Byrd (0-0, 0.00)

(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees try once again to stave off elimination and even their American League Division Series at two games apiece this evening, when they play Game 4 of the best-of-five set against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium.

New York was able to live another day on Sunday, as Johnny Damon hit a go- ahead three-run homer in the fifth inning and the Yankees overcame an early injury to Roger Clemens to post an 8-4 win in Game 3.

The Yankees fought back from an early three-run deficit, two nights after falling victim to a plague of flying insects in a 2-1, 11-inning loss at Cleveland.

With the win, Joe Torre's job appears to be safe for another day. Torre, who is in the final year of a contract worth $7 million per year as Yankees manager, is reportedly on the hot seat. In a newspaper article Sunday, team owner George Steinbrenner was quoted as saying he didn't "think we'd take him back if we don't win this series."

Damon ended 3-for-4 with four RBI and Robinson Cano had a hit that led to three runs for the Yankees, who pounded out 11 hits after having just eight over the first two games.

Even Alex Rodriguez joined in on the hit parade. Rodriguez, who entered Sunday 4-for-47 over his previous 14 playoff games, had a pair of hits and scored once.

Clemens, making possibly the final appearance of his Hall of Fame career, left the game in the third inning due to a strained left hamstring. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was making his first start for the Yankees since September 16 due to a similar injury.

Phil Hughes (1-0) allowed two hits and struck out four over 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief and Joba Chamberlain, who was overcome by the bugs in blowing an eighth-inning lead in Friday's Game 2, allowed three hits and a run over two frames. Mariano Rivera recorded two strikeouts in throwing the ninth inning.

Hughes also became the youngest Yankee ever to win a playoff game. He is eight months younger than Whitey Ford was when he won a World Series game in 1950.

Trot Nixon homered and drove in two runs for the Indians, who are trying to secure their first ALCS berth since 1998.

Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook (0-1) was pounded for nine hits and six runs over five-plus innings.

Although the task remains arduous, the Yankees have been in this position before. The only other time they lost the first two games of the ALDS was 2001 versus Oakland, and New York won that series.

Tonight, New York will turn to 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang, who will be pitching on three-day's rest. Wang had one of the worst outings of his career in Game 1 Thursday in Cleveland, as he was hammered for eight runs and nine hits in just 4 2/3 innings. He also walked four batters in the 12-3 loss.

Wang should be better tonight in the Bronx, where he was 10-4 with a 2.75 earned run average during the regular season.

Should Wang struggle in the early going, Mike Mussina will likely fill the role Hughes filled so admirably on Sunday. Torre could also have another pitcher at his disposal tonight, since Clemens can be replaced on the roster because he left with an injury. However, if they do that, Clemens would be ineligible to pitch in the ALCS if the Yankees make it through this series.

Ian Kennedy, Edwar Ramirez, Chris Britton or Ron Villone would be the leading candidates to replace him.

Cleveland, meanwhile, will stick with veteran right-hander Paul Bryd tonight instead of Cy Young candidate C.C. Sabathia. Byrd was 15-8 with a 4.59 ERA this season, but struggled in his only against the Yankees, as he was rocked for seven runs and seven hits in just two innings on August 11.

In his career against the Yankees, Byrd is 1-4 with a 4.44 ERA in eight starts.

These teams have met twice before in the postseason, but have not faced off since 1998 when the Yankees knocked the Indians off in six games of the ALCS. Cleveland, though, defeated the Yankees in five games in the 1997 ALDS.

Game 5 of this series, if necessary, will be played on Wednesday in Cleveland.

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Re: Baseball Today - October 8

Hi

My pick is :
Yankees (New York) -220 -1.5(-130) u10(-115)

P.s. Good luck to all

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