American League Championship Preview
How they got here
Red Sox: John Valentin -- BANG! Troy O'Leary -- BOOM!! Pedro Martinez -- WOOSH!
Weren't they supposed to miss Mo Vaughn's leadership? Or at least his hitting? Whoever these guys are, they scored 35 runs the last two games and that's impressive whoever you're playing. But it wasn't as impressive as Pedro Martinez's performance in game 5. In a game where the Indians had scored 8 runs in the first three innings, he came in and pitched 6 no-hit innings. An astonishing performance by a great pitcher.
Yankees: I know they have good pitching, but if they had Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, Texas should've scored more than two runs in six games the last two playoff series. Two runs in six innings would be a slow day. One has to say that their big hitters do not rise to the occasion, to say the least. The Yankees won easily, the Rangers were never in it, and the Yanks look like they're ready to defend.
What will happen:
The Sox aren't afraid of the Yankees, which puts them ahead of the Strangers. They swept a three game series in the Stadium in September to make a race if the AL East. Let's look at the Boston-Cleveland series a little closer. The first game they were dominated by Bartolo Colon, they did nothing with Nagy in game two. In game three, Burba was in command until he was hurt after throwing four shutout innings. At that point the Tribe pitched their shoddy bullpen and two starters on three days rest for the first time. BANG! BOOM! Have a nice Winter Mr. Hargrove. Now comes the Yankees, and they aren't pitching garbage, they only pitch good pitchers.
The Sox, on the other hand, pitch Kent Mercker, Ramon Martinez, Bret Saberhagen, and others whose futures are behind them. Doesn't seem like a fair matchup, does it?
Yet there's something about these Red Sox. And why is Torre fiddling with his rotation? Pettite is awfully tough in the Stadium, yet he isn't going in game 2, David Cone is. Now I have the utmost respect for Cone, but since his perfect game, his ERA is pushing 5. They have him in position to pitch twice. Why change what works? Taking Leyritz off the playoff roster to keep an extra outfielder could well backfire.
The highlight of the postseason could take place in game 3 -- Roger Clemens vs. Pedro Martinez in Fenway. Wouldn't you love to be there? The old king vs. the new king. The triumph of Dan Duquette. And the matchup could be repeated in game 7 -- wouldn't that be amazing?
So how can the Red Sox win?
It's simple, really. Pedro wins two, they beat Pettite away from his Yankee Stadium security blanket, and they steal a game somewhere buy outslugging the Yanks one game. I think they have a shot, but I think the Yankees won't let them get that game. I wouldn't mind seeing it, and I certainly would love a game 6 with Pedro waiting in the wings.
I'll go with the Yanks in 6, but where there's Pedro, there's hope.