16 October 2007

Look for Fireworks in ALCS Game 4 Red Sox and Indians

Tonight's Red Sox-Indians game could get messy.

The Sawx are starting Tim Wakefield, the 40-year old knuckleballer, who's got a lot going against him coming into tonight's game. His ERA was almost a full run higher in the second half of the year, 5.25, compares to 4.39 before the All-Star Break. He was even worse in September, with an 8.76 ERA. Of his 17 wins this year, 16 came against teams with losing records, either at the time he beat them or by the end of the year. He hasn't beaten a winning team since April 13th, his second start of the year, when he topped LAnahfornia, who was then 6-5. He has not yet made an appearance in the postseason, with his last start having been on September 29th, which means that he hasn't pitched in almost three weeks.

He did pitch a little better on the road (4.26) than at home (5.27), but I doubt that will matter a whole lot, as Cleveland is not such a terrible place to hit. The one thing he (kinda) has going for him is that despite his 5-5, 6.12 ERA in 65 career postseason innings, he is 5-1, 3.89 in the LCS, though two of those five wins came back in 1992, when he was a Pirate. Raise your hands if you even remembered that he ever was a Pirate? LiaRRRRR!

On the other hand, Paul Byrd isn't necessarily a bird in the hand for the Tribe, either. Sure, he beat the Yankees in the ALDS< but he also gave up 10 baserunners in 5 innings, and could easily have lost that game if Chien-Ming Wang had his good stuff that night. Byrd's ERA this year was more than two full runs higher at Jacobs Field (5.68) than on the road (3.51), and it was 5.21 in September/October. He's been decent against Boston in his career (4-2, 4.12 ERA), but that's a pretty small sample size, and not necessarily representative of the current Boston players. The current Bostons have hit .326/.352/.547 with nine homers in 172 at-bats against Byrd over the course of their careers, though four of those homers were hit by Bobby Kielty, before he was a lousy bench warmer.

Add to this, for Boston, at least, the fact that they used Hideki Okajima, Manny DelCarmen and Mike Timlin last night, which means that there's a remote possibility that they'll have to call upon Eric Gagne to get an out or two tonight, which seems like an unlikely event, at least not without giving up a few runs first.

At this point, I don't much care who wins, as long as the games are fun to watch. And odds like this mean that there could be lots of runs scored tonight. Which is fun.

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