Baseball Today - Saturday, October 20

Baseball Today - Saturday, October 20

Baseball Today - Saturday, October 20
ASSOCIATED PRESS


SCOREBOARD

Saturday, Oct. 20

Cleveland at Boston (8:00 p.m. EDT)

ROYALTY

Trey Hillman was hired Friday as manager of the Kansas City Royals, taking over a long-struggling team that hasn't been to the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series. Hillman is currently managing the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan World Series. He replaces Buddy Bell, who completed the season with Kansas City after saying in August he would step aside. The 44-year-old Hillman, who has never played or managed in the majors, will be introduced at a news conference Monday.

SURGERY

Orlando Hernandez had surgery on his right foot Friday, and the New York Mets' pitcher is expected to be ready for spring training. El Duque had a bunion removed from his second toe. An ailing foot interrupted his season, and the Mets collapsed down the stretch without Hernandez in the rotation.

NEXT?

Don Mattingly, Joe Girardi and Tony Pena were asked Friday to interview with the New York Yankees as possible replacements for Joe Torre. Mattingly's agent, Ray Schulte, said general manager Brian Cashman reached out to start the manager interview process. A day after Torre rejected a one-year offer to return for a 13th season, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner spent four hours at Legends Field, where he was joined by sons Hank and Hal, son-in-law Felix Lopez and team president Randy Levine.

SPEAKING

''The fact that somebody is reducing your salary is just telling me they're not satisfied with what you're doing. There really was no negotiation involved. I was hoping there would be, but there wasn't.'' - Joe Torre at a news conference Friday on his decision to reject the New York Yankees' contract offer to return as manager.

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Re: Baseball Today - Saturday, October 20

Indians confident of chances against Red Sox in Game 6
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BOSTON -- Ah, mid-October in lovely New England. The famously breathtaking fall foliage, historical landmarks on almost every corner, pumpkin picking, clam bakes on the Cape. An autumnal paradise.

It's the last place the Cleveland Indians wanted to be.

Not now, anyway.

But here they are, back at Fenway Park no thanks to Josh Beckett, Boston's cold-blooded ace who dominated Cleveland for the second time in the AL championship series in Game 5, denying the Indians a place in the World Series.

This was a weekend getaway they wanted to cancel.

On Thursday night, they came to Jacobs Field without their luggage - age-old baseball superstition dictates teams never assume a loss - as Cleveland's players had every intention of putting away the Red Sox and advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1997.

From the top of Jacobs Field, Cleveland fans could almost see the snow-kissed peaks of the Rocky Mountains and a Series matchup with those rollin' Colorado Rockies.

Beckett had his own plans, though, and now the Indians, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, will send 19-game winner Fausto Carmona against October-gargantuan Curt Schilling in Game 6 on Saturday night.

The Indians still have the upper hand. It's just a little shaky.

Yet despite the loss that prevented them from clinching an AL pennant for the first time at home, the Indians remain confident they can get the job done. And as they packed their gloves and cleats into duffel bags early Friday morning, it was clear their confidence was still intact.

''I guarantee anybody over there (in the Boston clubhouse) would like the position we're in over what they're in,'' third baseman Casey Blake said. ''I don't believe in momentum. We're still in a position to win.''

Unlike the Red Sox, the Indians didn't leave immediately after Game 5. Instead, they flew into Boston on Friday afternoon. Manager Eric Wedge gave his players the rest of the day off to rest and prepare for Schilling, whom they hit hard in Game 2.

Cleveland chased the right-hander in the fifth inning, touching him up for five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. He got a no-decision as the Indians won 13-6 in 11 innings.

It was the second-worst postseason performance of Schilling's career, and the Indians would like nothing better than an encore.

During a news conference on Friday, Wedge was asked about Schilling's storied reputation as a big-game pitcher. In the 2004 ALCS, his dramatic ''bloody sock'' outing inspired the Red Sox in their epic comeback from an 0-3 deficit to beat the New York Yankees.

While acknowledging Schilling's greatness, Wedge was more concerned about his team.

''You could just go ahead and put that over here on the side because the only thing that matters is tomorrow night,'' he said. ''And from my standpoint it only matters the way our guys play. If we go out there and play a good baseball game, we're going to give ourselves a good chance to win.''

The Indians are counting on the 23-year-old Carmona to bounce back from a less-than-stellar Game 2 outing vs. Schilling. Mentioned along with Beckett and teammate C.C. Sabathia as a Cy Young Award candidate, Carmona held the New York Yankees to just three hits in nine innings in the opening round, and is capable of shutting down the Red Sox just as easily.

Carmona thought he tried to be too pinpoint perfect his last time out and pledged to go after Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Co.

''I'm going to try hard to stay aggressive, the same way I always pitch,'' he said. ''Whatever happened last time, I've forgotten about it, it's going to be a new start and I'm looking forward to it.''

There's another Indian looking for a fresh start: designated hitter Travis Hafner.

''Pronk,'' as he's known to teammates and the Indians' faithful, has been in a prolonged funk the entire series. He's batting .158 (3-for-19) and has struck out eight times, six in the past two games.

Wedge dismissed any talk of dropping Hafner from the lineup or moving him around.

''Haf has had a couple of tough games,'' Wedge said ''I've got a lot of confidence in him. He's a great hitter. He's stepped up for us time and time again. Everybody has to remember, when it comes to the postseason, everything prior to today doesn't mean anything.''

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Re: Baseball Today - Saturday, October 20

ALCS Preview

Cleveland (6-3) at Boston (5-3)

The Red Sox staved off elimination Thursday and send veteran right-hander Curt Schilling (9-8, 3.87 ERA) to the mound tonight to try and do the same in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Indians and young righty Fausto Carmona (19-8, 3.06) at Fenway Park in Boston.

Boston’s Josh Beckett dominated the Indians for the second time in this series Thursday, allowing just one run on five hits over eight innings of a 7-1 Boston win to bring the Red Sox to 3-2 in the series.

Carmona and Schilling faced off a week ago in Game 2 at Fenway and neither pitcher was around for the decision as the Indians ended up winning 13-6 in 11 innings.

Carmona gave up four runs on four hits and walked five in his four innings of work a week ago in Boston. Fenway Park hasn’t been kind to the young hurler as he blew consecutive saves in Boston last year and is 0-2 with a 16.20 ERA at Fenway in three outings.

Carmona was 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his six starts prior to Game 2 and the Indians haven’t lost a Carmona start since Aug. 21.

The 40-year-old Schilling thrives under pressure and has posted a 3-0 record and 1.11 ERA in four career postseason starts when his team is facing elimination. He got knocked around in Game 2, giving up five runs on nine hits, including homers to the Indians’ Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta.

Schilling is 9-2 in 17 career playoff starts.

The Red Sox have won 13 of their last 19 playoff games and have taken seven of 12 from the Indians this season. Boston is 7-2 in its last nine playoff home games and has gone 11-2 in its last 13 Saturday games.

Cleveland is 37-15 in its last 52 overall and 6-2 the last eight Saturdays.

The under is 22-11 in Carmona’s 33 starts this season and 6-4-2 in the 12 head-to-head matchups between these two squads. .

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON and UNDER

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