Game 7 pitching matchup somewhat of a mystery

It's likely Wakefield vs. Brown or Vazquez

ALCS notebook

October 20, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- A year ago, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, setting up a classic Game 7 pitching matchup between Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens.

This time, it won't have near the same marquee billing.

Though neither manager would commit last night, after the Red Sox won Game 6, 4-2, it probably will be Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield against New York's Kevin Brown or Javier Vazquez.

Neither manager has much of a choice after the long, hard struggle to get to this point, but naturally, it will be all hands on deck tonight.

Yankees manager Joe Torre won't hesitate to turn to Mike Mussina or anyone else on the staff, and the same goes for Red Sox manager Terry Francona with Derek Lowe, Martinez and the others.

Last year, Clemens was ineffective, so Torre turned to Mussina for three innings of scoreless relief -- a defining moment in Mussina's Yankees career.

Martinez pitched well through seven, and then-Red Sox manager Grady Little left him in to protect a 5-2, eighth-inning lead. The results, of course, were disastrous. The Yankees scored three quick runs off Martinez, tying the score, and won it on Aaron Boone's 11th-inning homer off Wakefield.

Asked who the Yankees would start tonight, Torre said he and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre would "make some calls." Torre hinted toward Brown, saying it probably would be the person with the most rest.

Brown struggled in his only ALCS appearance, giving up four runs (three earned) in two innings of Game 3, but that was four days ago. Vazquez relieved Brown that night and allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Asked about Boston's plans, Francona said, "We're going to make some calls, too. ... We'll get it figured out."

Wakefield has made three relief appearances in this series, going 1-0 with an 8.59 ERA. He got the win with three innings of scoreless relief in Game 5, throwing 43 pitches.

Olerud still sidelined

John Olerud underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on his left foot, and Torre said the first baseman who was injured in Game 3 is out for the rest of the series.

Torre has said he will not put Jason Giambi on the roster if the Yankees advance to the World Series, even with Olerud injured. Giambi went 4-for-33 after returning from a long absence with a benign tumor, and he's still not strong enough to play regularly.

So the Yankees will stick with Tony Clark at first base for now.

A hit on TV

The Red Sox's 5-4, 14-inning victory in Game 5 was the highest-rated weekday League Championship Series day game in 18 years.

The 5-hour, 49-minute game had an 11.3 rating and 19 share on Fox, Nielsen Media Research said, up 59 percent for the 7.1/16 for Game 5 of last year's AL series between the same teams.

The last weekday LCS day game with a rating that high was the New York Mets' 16-inning Game 6 clincher over the Houston Astros in the 1986 NLCS (17.0/39).

Around the horn

Mussina has pitched at least six innings in each of his past five postseason starts, allowing four or fewer runs each time. For his career, he is 6-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 19 career postseason appearances. ... Since Torre took over as Yankees manager in 1996 through last year's World Series, the Yankees' bullpen had four blown saves in the postseason. The Yankees have blown three in this year's playoffs.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Best of seven Series tied 3-3

Game 1: New York, 10-7

Game 2: New York, 3-1

Game 3: New York, 19-8

Game 4: Boston, 6-4 (12 inn.)

Game 5: Boston, 5-4 (14 inn.)

Last night: Boston, 4-2

Today: Boston at New York, 8:19 p.m.

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