|Red Sox ace Beckett ready to start Game 5|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 17 October 2007 23:51|
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.''
ROCKIES' ROLL: The Rockies' 21-1 run is the best streak in Denver sports history.
The ABA's Denver Nuggets went 19-1 in 1974-75. The best Broncos' run was 18-1 spanning the 1997 and '98 seasons when they won back-to-back Super Bowls, and the NBA Nuggets had a 16-1 streak in 2004-05.
The Rockies' run has landed them in their first World Series - and in the hearts of Broncos fans, who mockingly chanted ``Let's go, Rock-ies!'' at Denver's last home game, a 41-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
This is still Broncos Country, but Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday he hopes this run has staying power much like John Elway's heroics in the AFC championship on Jan. 11, 1987, when he engineered ``The Drive,'' to beat Cleveland with one of pro football's best clutch performances.
``We've earned this opportunity,'' Hurdle said. ``We're past the point of being hot. It has been a remarkable streak. And hopefully 50 years from now it will be talked about like I've heard 'The Drive' talked about.
``There will be talk of 'The Streak.' You know, 'Where were you during 'The Streak?'''
Hurdle and his players aren't harping on it, however.
``We've moved past that,'' he said. ``We're just again looking forward to the opportunity to win the next game - a lot of one-game winning streaks.''
KNIGHT MOVES: The playoffs have captured the attention of Texas Tech men's basketball coach Bob Knight, who didn't seem very interested in talking about hoops at the Big 12 media day Wednesday.
Knight, the winningest Division I men's coach with 890 victories, grew up in Ohio and is a close friend of St. Louis manager Tony La Russa.
``The Cardinals are out of it, we've got to root for the (Cleveland) Indians,'' Knight said. ``(Indians manager) Eric Wedge is my next best friend. Anybody got any questions about the American League championship series?''
Knight spent most of his 15 minutes fielding questions about baseball, and deflected the only question about his Red Raiders basketball team.
How important is it for the Indians to win Game 5 on Thursday at Cleveland and not go back to Fenway Park?
``I think it would be damn important,'' Knight said in Kansas City, Mo.
If La Russa leaves the Cardinals, would he consider taking the Kansas City Royals managerial job, which is open?
``I think it will depend on what he thinks would be the best situation for him to have a team that can defend, which might leave the Royals out,'' Knight said.
The Royals have finished last in their division the past four years, while La Russa managed the Cardinals to the 2006 World Series title and to the playoffs in six of the past eight years.
If the Indians advance to the World Series, can they defeat the Colorado Rockies?
``If I knew whether the Indians could beat the Rockies or not, George Bush would be asking me how the hell do you get out of Iraq right now if I was that smart,'' Knight said.
IMPROVING RATINGS: The TV ratings for the AL championship series continue to grow from game to game. Game 4 drew an 8.2 rating.
Through four games, this year's ALCS has 17 percent higher ratings than last year's series between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics.
Cleveland beat Boston 7-3 Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the series. The Indians' 4-2 win in Game 3 on Monday night drew a 6.6 rating on Fox.
The Colorado Rockies' four-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS drew an average 2.8 rating for all households and a 3.3 for homes with TBS.