Baseball Today - October 18

Baseball Today - October 18

Baseball today - October 18
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD

Thursday, Oct. 18

Boston at Cleveland (8:21 p.m. EDT).

C.C. Sabathia tries to pitch the Indians into their first World Series since 1997, facing Game 1 winner Josh Beckett.

NOTHING NEW FOR BECKETT

Down 3-1 in the ALCS, Josh Beckett and Boston will try to save their season when they face Cleveland on Thursday night. The predicament is nothing new for Beckett, who started Florida's comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the 2003 NLCS with a two-hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs in Game 5.

CHANCE AT REDEMPTION


C.C. Sabathia wasn't at his best in Cleveland's 10-3 loss to Boston in Game 1 of the ALCS, giving up eight runs, seven hits and five walks in just 4 1-3 innings. Luckily for the Indians ace, his teammates have won three straight and will send him to the mound on Thursday with a chance to clinch a trip to the World Series.

NOT WORRIED

With a record eight days off, Colorado has plenty of time to get ready for their first World Series. Last year, Detroit had six days' rest, then played poorly in losing the Series in five games to St. Louis. Manager Clint Hurdle noted on Wednesday that seven of the 10 teams that had to wait five days or more before the Series actually won it all.

SPEAKING

''I don't even know if it's sunk in yet. It may take a little while longer. But I don't want to pinch myself. I don't want to wake up. It's a magical ride and I want to stay on it as long as possible.'' - Colorado first baseman Todd Helton, on the Rockies' unpredictable run to the World Series.

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What bettors need to know: Game 5 – Boston at Cleveland
Covers.com

Beckett vs. Sabathia - Part II

The Boston Red Sox will turn to Josh Beckett with hopes that he can keep their series and season alive against the Cleveland Indians.

Beckett, who went 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA during the regular season, was masterful in the ALCS opener against the Indians. The right-hander turned in six solid innings en route to a 10-3 victory, his second of the postseason.

“There's no one better for us,” Mike Lowell told MLB.com Tuesday night. “That's the guy we want on the mound. It's kind of ironic. He took Game 5 in '03 and that spelled out good things for us. Hopefully, he does the same for us.”

The Indians hand the ball back to C.C. Sabathia, their Game 1 starter, on Thursday. The left-hander gave up eight runs, seven hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings the loss to the Red Sox.

Sabathia was 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts this season. Boston’s hitters, nevertheless, were able to get hits off Sabathia in the ALCS opener. Manny Ramirez went 2-for-2 with an RBI single and three walks, two of them with the bases loaded, and David Ortiz went 2-for-2 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

“A pitcher like C.C., when he gives you something to hit, you want to make sure you hit it, because otherwise you might never get to see that pitch again,” Ortiz told reporters.

Under pressure

The Red Sox are in a familiar position in the ALCS. Boston trails the Tribe 3-1 in the series and faces elimination Thursday night at Jacobs Field in Cleveland.

David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Varitek, Curt Schilling, Mike Timlin, Tim Wakefield, Doug Mirabelli and Kevin Youkilis are holdovers from the 2004 Red Sox, the team that came back from three games down to upset the Yankees in the ALCS.

Boston went on to win the World Series that season.

“There's a lot of guys in this clubhouse still that know in '04 we were down three games to nothing to New York,” Wakefield told MLB.com. “We've got our work cut out for us, and hopefully we can take this back to Boston and get in front of our home crowd.”

Two other players on the ‘07 Red Sox went through a similar experience as members of another team. Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett were with the 2003 Marlins when that team came back from three games down in the NLCS to oust the Chicago Cubs.

Florida also went on to win the World Series that season.

“I think that's when you have to lean on past experience,” Mirabelli told reporters. “Some of these guys on this team have been in this situation before. There is still a lot of fight in this team. Guys really believe that they can win ballgames. We've always said that these are seven one-game series. We have to approach them like that.”

Cleveland rocks

No team has ousted both the Yankees and Red Sox in the same postseason. That could change Thursday night.

The Indians have three chances to topple the mighty Red Sox, starting with Thursday’s game.

“I'm excited that we've taken it this far,” manager Eric Wedge told MLB.com. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”

History is on the Indians side entering Game 5 of the ALCS. Since 1985, when the League Championship Series expanded to a best-of-seven format, 10 of the previous 13 teams to hold 3-1 leads in the ALCS have gone on to win the series.

“We're up, 3-1, and that doesn't mean anything,” Victor Martinez told reporters. “We've got to finish them off.”

Crunching the numbers

Both teams are riding some healthy betting trends going into Thursday’s game.

The Red Sox are 6-1 in their last seven games against left-handed starters and are 7-3 in their last 10 overall against southpaws.

The Indians are 4-1 in their last five games against right-handed starters and are 41-19 in their last 60 games against righties at Jacobs Field.

The Indians are also 4-0 in their last four playoff games at home. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are 1-4 in their last four playoff games outside Fenway Park.

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ALCS

Boston (4-3) at Cleveland (6-2)

Now just one win away from their first trip to the World Series in a decade, the Indians will turn to ace C.C. Sabathia (20-8, 3.49 ERA) for tonight’s Game 5, while the Red Sox will counter with their ace Josh Beckett (22-7, 3.13) in a rematch from Game 1.

After getting crushed 10-3 in the opener of this best-of-7 series, Cleveland has stormed back to take the last three games by scores 13-6 in 10 innings, 4-2 and 7-3. In Tuesday’s rout, the Tribe scored all seven runs in the fifth inning, improving to 4-0 at home in the postseason and 19-4 in their last 23 at Jacobs Field. Also, Eric Wedge’s club is 37-14 in its last 51 overall, including 10-3 when playing as an underdog.

Boston, which has dropped three straight after opening the postseason with four consecutive wins, is still 9-5 in its last 14 games at Jacobs Field, but just 3-3 this year. The Red Sox are looking to become the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in a League Championship Series since the 2004 Sox battled back from an 0-3 hole to top the Yankees en route to a world title.

Beckett dominated the Indians in Game 1, allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings en route to the 10-3 victory. He’s 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two postseason starts this year, allowing just eight hits and no walks while striking out 15. For his career, the righthander is 4-2 with a 1.87 ERA in six playoff appearances (five starts).

Beckett’s first two playoff starts this year have come at home, but he was actually a better pitcher on the road in 2007, going 11-2 with a 2.18 ERA in 13 starts (compared with 11-5, 3.82 ERA at home). One of his two losses did come in Cleveland, though it wasn’t Beckett’s fault, as he gave up just a single run on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in eight innings, coming up on the short end of a 1-0 final. In his only other career start at The Jake, he gave up nine runs (eight earned) in 3 2/3 innings in a 15-3 loss in April 2006.

In three starts against Cleveland this year, Beckett is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA.

Sabathia has followed up an outstanding regular season with a subpar playoffs, allowing 11 runs (all earned) on 11 hits and 11 walks in 9 1/3 innings. Although the Indians bailed him out in a 10-3 win against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, Sabathia wasn’t so lucky in Game 1 of this series, surrendering eight runs in 4 1/3 innings of the 10-3 defeat. Including that result, the hefty lefty is now 2-5 with a 4.96 ERA in eight lifetime starts against Boston.

Sabathia has been sensational at Jacobs Field this year, going 12-4 with a 3.21 ERA in 20 starts, with Cleveland winning 15 of those contests.

Although Game 1 soared over the total, the under is still 5-3 in Beckett’s last eight starts, 8-5 when he pitches on the road, 8-3 in Sabathia’s last 11 outings and 5-2-1 in Sabathia’s eight career starts against the BoSox.

The under is 2-1-1 in this best-of-7 series and 4-1-1 in the six meetings this season between these teams at Jacobs Field.

ATS ADVANTAGE:   BOSTON and UNDER

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ALCS Game 5 preview
VegasInsider.com 

The Rockies are on ice for the time being, while the Indians are one game away from returning to the World Series for the first time since losing to the Marlins in 1997. To make this even more dramatic, Cleveland has been void of a World Series title since 1948 (three years after the end of World War II for you history buffs out there), beating the Boston Braves 4-2 in that best-of-seven series.

The Tribe have won three straight gamess to take a 3-1 ALCS lead. Can Boston rally? Only nine teams in baseball history have ever rebounded from a 3-1 deficit during a best-of-seven playoff match. The last time this scenario materialized was in 2003 when the Florida Marlins rallied to eliminate the Cubs.

Guess who was the starter for the Marlins in Game 5 of that series? You guessed it, none other than Josh Beckett.

Boston is staring directly down the barrel of a loaded gun and the Tribe has their finger on the trigger. Fortunately for the Red Sox, they have their ace on the mound tonight.

The good news for Cleveland is that Game 5 will be played in Jacobs Field with 43,345 rabid fans swinging their towels in support of the home team. 

Throwing for 15 innings during the postseason so far, Beckett has been devastating to the opposing team, giving up just eight hits with two earned runs. His 15 strikeouts (one per inning) and zero base on balls is just one example of how dominating the six-year vet has been.

Beckett’s 2007 career postseason record currently stands at 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA.

While the pitching matchup looks great on paper, the Red Sox batting order has mysteriously disappeared (or should I say that Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell just can’t supply all of the runs for this club).

To make the point of horrible hitting clear, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia have combined to produce a wretched .199 BA with just 11 RBIs in seven games at the plate. The way Cleveland has been pitching, including starter Paul Byrd’s last appearance on the mound (five innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs), Boston must get production from its bottom order if they want a chance to bring the fight back to Fenway.

Another footnote pertaining to the Red Sox falling face first with the bat in their hand; at home Boston connected to produce a .297 BA with 453 RBIs (5.6 RBIs per game), as opposed to hitting a skimp .262 BA with 376 RBIs on the road (4.6 RBIs per game) during the regular season.

The Indians have been on the complete opposite side of the gamut when inside the batters box.

Four players (who have batted in all eight games in this postseason) are hitting .300 or better and only four more players are hitting under .280. That’s a sizable difference in offensive numbers, especially with men on base.

In-fact with runners on, Cleveland has combined to produce a .275 BA, knocking in 40 RBIs with a .435 slugging percentage. If ALCS MVP candidate Jhonny Peralta has anything to add to this discussion it’s his .353 BA with nine RBIs (with runner on base) that has done the talking.

Cleveland is 9-3 in its last 12 games when installed as an underdog, and is 37-14 in its last 51 overall games.

To make this game a dogfight until the very last inning, the Tribe will call upon the services of ace hurler C.C. Sabathia. In his only two outings during the postseason, Sabathia has been responsible for pitching in 9.1 innings, while surrendering 11 hits, 11 runs and two long balls. His 10.61 ERA has indicated that C.C. has fallen on hard times during the playoffs, but don’t think that this means Boston will hammer him into oblivion.

There’s a reason why Sabathia went 19-7 during the regular season with a 3.21 ERA. When paired against lefties, this southpaw pitcher has slapped opponents for a .203 BAA.

Before placing your winning bet, be aware that Sabathia has been inconsistent with five or more days of rest. During the regular season, C.C. hurled the ball for a 15-6 record with a 2.97 on four days of rest, but suffered with a 4.17 ERA on five or more (he did go 3-1 however in those 41 innings of work with extended resting time).

On the road this year, the Sox went 13-15 versus left-handed pitchers.

The ‘over’ has gone 8-10 during the season when Sabathia started on the mound.

The Indians are 20-6 in their last 26 contests when their opponent has allowed 5 runs or more in their previous game.

Gametime is set to begin on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. EDT, with most books installing the Red Sox as $1.19 visiting favorites. The total has been set at eight runs.

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Beckett ready to start Game 5
Associated Press

Boston fans can hold onto those heating pads and Ben-Gay, Josh Beckett 's back is just fine.

Beckett felt some tightness in his back last Friday, when he pitched the Red Sox to a 10-3 victory over Cleveland in Game 1 of the American League championship series. But the right-hander didn't have any issues when he threw his bullpen session Monday, and is set to start Game 5 on Thursday night.

``It's not an issue. ... He's 100 percent for tomorrow,'' Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said Wednesday. ``His bullpen two days ago was as strong as others throughout the course of the season, so there's no restrictions of any kind.''

Thursday's game is a must-win for the Red Sox, who trail Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

The weather in Boston on Friday night was cool and windy, and Beckett was lifted after six innings because he felt some stiffness in his back. It was simply ``precautionary,'' Farrell said, and Beckett certainly didn't appear to be struggling. He threw six innings of four-hit ball for his second victory of the postseason.


WHAT'S COOKIN: Colorado's Aaron Cook hasn't started since Aug. 10, but the Rockies are contemplating putting him on their World Series roster.

Cook, the team's opening-day starter, went on the disabled list Aug. 16 with a left oblique strain. He made one rehab start at Triple-A Colorado Springs in September, and when the injury bothered him again, he was shut down for the remainder of the regular season.

Cook was healthy enough to be added to the roster for the NL championship series against Arizona, but the Rockies decided not to include him.

Cook went 8-7 with a 4.12 ERA for the Rockies this season. He had a complete-game win over San Diego on July 25 in which he threw only 74 pitches.

``This will definitely be our toughest decision,'' pitching coach Bob Apodaca said after a team workout Wednesday.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle would love nothing more than to see how Cook fares in a real-game setting. However, he's going to have to make the decision based on simulated games this week.

``We can't have him throw in a game to hitters,'' Hurdle said. ``That's the best test he needs to have next.''

Cook recently pitched in an instructional league game down in Tucson, Ariz., with mixed results.

``There was some crispness to his pitches,'' Hurdle said. ``And there was some rust. But as far as being physically able to go and no more lasting effects from the injury, we believe he's past that.''


MANNY BEING MANNY: Leave it to Manny Ramirez to stir things up.

The quirky Red Sox outfielder paused to admire his long solo home run in Game 4 on Tuesday night - Boston's third straight after shots by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. Ramirez often watches his homers, but considering the 451-foot drive to center came when Boston was trailing by five runs, it rubbed a few of the Cleveland Indians the wrong way.

``I guess now I know full well what Manny being Manny means,'' said Cleveland reliever Jensen Lewis, who gave up the homer.

The Indians won 7-3 to get within one game of the World Series. And on Wednesday, Ramirez insisted he wasn't trying to show anybody up.

``I'm just trying to go have fun,'' he said. ``If somebody strikes me out and shows me up, that's part of the game. I love it. I like that. I like to compete and when people strike me out and they show me up, it's all good. There's no hard feelings.''

Ramirez spent seven-plus seasons in Cleveland, and was part of the Indians' World Series teams in 1995 and 1997.

At least one Indians player didn't have a problem with Ramirez posing.

``It's the playoffs, and you've got to enjoy it,'' said outfielder Kenny Lofton, a former teammate of Ramirez. ``If I hit a ball like that, I'd do it, too.''

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