AL Division Series

October 09, 2001|By Roch Kubatko

AL Division Series

Seattle Mariners vs. Cleveland Indians

Schedule (best of five)

Today: Cleveland (Bartolo Colon 14-12) at Seattle (Freddy Garcia 18-6), 4:20 p.m. (Fox)

Thursday: Cleveland (Chuck Finley 8-7) at Seattle (Jamie Moyer 20-6), 4:20 p.m. (Fox Family)

Saturday: Seattle (Aaron Sele 15-5) at Cleveland (C.C Sabathia 17-5), 4:20 p.m. (Fox or Fox Family)

Sunday: Seattle at Cleveland, 1:12 p.m., if necessary (Fox Family or Fox)

Monday: Cleveland at Seattle, 4:20 p.m., if necessary (Fox)

Matchups

Starting lineup: Both teams can slug it out with the best of them. The Mariners have Ichiro Suzuki (.350), the likely Rookie of the Year and a strong Most Valuable Player candidate, who batted .407 against Cleveland. The MVP award also could go to second baseman Bret Boone (.331), the league leader with 141 RBIs. Cleveland also must deal with center fielder Mark Cameron, ageless DH Edgar Martinez and first baseman John Olerud. But Seattle must replace shortstop Carlos Guillen, who was hospitalized with tuberculosis. The Indians pack a heavy punch. Juan Gonzalez, signed as a replacement for free agent Manny Ramirez, will garner some MVP votes. Above him in the lineup are Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar. And don't forget Jim Thome, who hit 49 homers, but batted .160 with 11 strikeouts in 25 at-bats against Seattle.

Starting pitching: The Mariners no longer have a dominating ace like Randy Johnson, but Garcia, Moyer and Sele will suffice. Garcia's 3.05 ERA led the AL, and Moyer won 20 games, twice beating Cleveland, allowing one run in 14 innings. The Indians' Colon is unpredictable and Finley is old, but both are capable of turning in gems. Sabathia, 21, carried the staff much of the season but didn't face the Mariners. How he handles postseason pressure could determine how far the Indians go.

Bullpen: The Mariners' unit has been nearly perfect, with former Oriole Arthur Rhodes emerging as a top-flight setup man by going 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA. Kazuhiro Sasaki converted 45 of 52 save chances. The Mariners can carry a lead to him with Rhodes, Jeff Nelson, Jose Paniagua and Norm Charlton. Paul Abbott, a 17-game winner, could join them. The Indians returned the closer's job to Bob Wickman, who was 32-for-35 in save chances. Youngster Danys Baez has been a real find. Paul Shuey and Ricardo Rincon also can be very good, but controversial left-hander John Rocker almost didn't make the postseason roster.

Bench: For the Mariners, Stan Javier can be used off the bench if he's not starting in left field. The same is true of Jay Buhner. Manager Lou Piniella can call upon another veteran, Ed Sprague. Indians manager Charlie Manuel added former Oriole Tim Laker as a third catcher because of Eddie Taubensee's poor throwing and bad back. Depending on his lineup, he'll have Marty Cordova, Wil Cordero or Russell Branyan at his disposal. They can change a game with one swing.

Outlook: The top matchup could be between Rhodes and Vizquel. They nearly came to blows Aug. 25 after Vizquel complained of the sun reflecting off Rhodes' earring. Four of the seven games between these teams were decided by one run. The Indians want to win for Manuel, who's been hospitalized three times this season.

New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics

Schedule (best of five)

Tomorrow: Oakland (Mark Mulder 21-8) at New York (Roger Clemens 20-3), 8:17 p.m. (Fox)

Thursday: Oakland (Tim Hudson 18-9) at New York (Andy Pettitte 15-10), 8:17 p.m. (Fox)

Saturday: New York (Mike Mussina 17-11) at Oakland (Barry Zito 17-8), 7:50 p.m. (Fox)

Sunday: New York at Oakland, 4:30 p.m., if necessary (Fox)

Monday: Oakland at New York, 8:17 p.m., if necessary (Fox)

Matchups

Starting lineup: The Yankees are getting healthier, but still must be concerned about left-handed hitters David Justice and Paul O'Neill. Justice returned from a groin injury to hit .236 with eight homers after the All-Star break. O'Neill had a stress fracture in his left foot. Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Tito Martinez and Jorge Posada are dangerous in the lineup. Oakland needs Johnny Damon to serve as a catalyst atop the order, as he was while raising his average 40 points in the second half. Acquiring Jermaine Dye elevated the A's to World Series contender, because they already had one of baseball's best in Jason Giambi and rising star Eric Chavez.

Starting pitching: Both teams have great rotations, which makes this series the most interesting of the four. Oakland has its magnificent young trio of Mulder, Hudson and Zito, so the Yankees could face left-handers three times if the series goes five games. Mulder has no postseason experience but gets the nod in Game 1 after a torrid finish. The Yankees counter with Clemens, a shoo-in for the Cy Young Award, former Oriole Mussina, Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez. Recovered from a "tired arm," El Duque is 8-1 in the playoffs to earn a decided edge over the A's possible Game 4 starter, Cory Lidle.

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