|Extra day off in league championship series affects managers' decisions|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 15 October 2007 14:18|
It's changing how the pitching staffs are used in Games 3 and 4.
``You can extend guys a little bit more. You can maybe go to guys a little bit earlier,'' Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said Monday, before the Indians took on the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS. ``It just depends on what their workload has been.''
Major League Baseball added the extra day off in the middle of the LCS this year to avoid starting the World Series on Saturday. The NLCS would end Saturday if it goes to seven games, while the ALCS could finish as late as Sunday.
The World Series starts next Wednesday, Oct. 24.
``We're never going to put somebody in harm's way, but it'll allow us to maybe do things that we wouldn't normally do, knowing we have an off day the next day,'' Wedge said.
The day off Sunday - even if it was a travel day - was a factor in Saturday night's marathon. Instead of holding a reliever or two back, the Red Sox used all seven of their relievers in the 5-hour, 14-minute game. The Indians used five.
``We most definitely took (the off day) into consideration a couple of days ago, and we will again here today and tomorrow,'' Wedge said. ``It's about winning the series, it's not just about winning one game. Having said that, without a doubt, today is the most important day, and we're going to do everything we can to win.''
HOT TO TROT: Trot Nixon has been much more than the Cleveland Indians' designated pie thrower.
Nixon, who began smashing teammates in the face with whipped-cream pies following home wins early this season, dished out the big hit in Game 2.
Coming off the bench in the 11th inning Saturday night, Nixon delivered a pinch-hit RBI single off left-hander Javier Lopez, igniting Cleveland's record-setting seven-run outburst that sent the Indians to a 13-6 win.
The clutch hit was the latest contribution by Nixon, the former Red Sox fan favorite who in his first season with Cleveland has provided leadership to a young team with little postseason experience.
``He's been great,'' reliever Jensen Lewis said. ``He has kept guys loose and he's been a great resource for the young guys like me.''
Nixon was in the starting lineup for Game 3 as manager Eric Wedge decided to play the 33-year-old in right field over Franklin Gutierrez, who has struggled with breaking pitches and figured to have trouble against Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka and his assortment of dipping, darting balls.
Nixon, who can become a free agent this winter, has enjoyed his time in Cleveland, where he didn't need much time to bond with new teammates.
``I've been on teams where I didn't want to be in the clubhouse and others where I couldn't wait to get there,'' he said.
SKIPPER SAYS J.D. is O.K.: J.D. Drew struggled in his first season with the Red Sox. He made $14 million and drove in 64 runs - more than $200,000 per RBI. He didn't even start the opener of the AL championship series.
But Boston manager Terry Francona is sticking by the lefty rather than start switch-hitter Bobby Kielty or exciting rookie speedster Jacoby Ellsbury.
``I would be doing our team more of an injustice by making wholesale changes,'' Francona said before the Red Sox faced Cleveland in Game 3.
Fans, he knows, think setbacks demand tinkering with the lineup.
``You lose one game, it's like the world came to a screeching halt,'' Francona said. ``We have to have the ability to absorb a loss and move on and then not lose.''
Kielty started the opener because of his success against lefty C.C. Sabathia and he went 1-for-2 with an intentional walk and an RBI. He'll probably start again in Game 5 against the Indians left-hander. Drew is 2-for-7 in the ALCS and 4-for-18 in the playoffs after hitting .270 with 11 homers, both his lowest in five years.
``J.D., hopefully, carries a pretty big load for us'' in the ALCS, Francona said.
If he doesn't, starting him still gives the manager tactical options. The Indians would be less likely to bring in a lefty reliever since Kielty can pinch-hit from the right side. And Ellsbury can pinch-run, although Francona would consider starting him under one circumstance.
``If I could TiVo it and it tells me he's going to get four hits and steal three, I'd do it,'' Francona said.