After an off-day yesterday, the Red Sox and Angels resume their best of five American League Division Series tonight at Fenway Park as Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12, 4.40 ERA) takes on Kelvim Escobar (18-7, 3.40 ERA).
Jeff Horrigan has Matsuzaka stepping onto another big stage, this time the MLB postseason. Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox don’t really know which version of Matsuzaka is going to show up tonight. Alex Speier says that it is time for Dice-K to shine.
Gordon Edes says that games like tonight’s are the very reason that Matsuzaka is here with the Red Sox. Steve Buckley says that after a year of over-the-top hype by the sports media of two countries, Matsuzaka is focused on the task at hand tonight. Paul Jarvey says that Matsuzaka remains something of a mystery to some, and the Red Sox are hoping that group also includes the Angels. Joe Haggerty says that Matsuzaka begins his graduate course tonight. Rob Bradford says that like Josh Beckett last season, Matsuzaka has had a tendency to try and throw harder when he has gotten into difficult spots this season. Jeff Goldberg says that Dice-K won’t be throwing 250 pitches tonight like he did in high school, but this is his biggest game of the season, and perhaps of his career.
Lenny Megliola has more on the Red Sox riding their hopes on Matsuzaka tonight. Ron Chimelis also has the Sox rolling the dice with Matsuzaka tonight. Jon Couture notes that both of tonight’s starters found their groove just in time this season. Having never faced Matsuzaka before, Silverman says that the Angels will be trying to figure him out in a hurry tonight. Krasner has some notes on the Angels getting their first look at Dice-K tonight. Sarah Green says that tonight will be a whole new game for Matsuzaka.
Michael Vega has the Angels turning to Escobar tonight for the biggest start of his career. Michael Silverman says that if Escobar keeps his pitches down, and the Red Sox swing at them, this series could be tied 1-1. If his pitches are up, or the Red Sox don’t swing at the low pitches, Boston will take a 2-0 lead. Steven Krasner has more on Escobar, who finally realized his potential with a breakout season this year. Mike Petraglia says that Escobar can only hope that tonight goes better than his last outing at Fenway Park.
Amalie Benjamin has a feature on the complexities of playing centerfield, focusing on Coco Crisp, who has really mastered the art of playing that position in Fenway Park for the Red Sox this season. She talks to other centerfielders around the league, such as Tori Hunter, Vernon Wells and Grady Sizemore about Crisp and about playing Fenway Park. Bob Ryan has Jonathan Papelbon stating very clearly that he is not interested being a starting pitcher. Joe McDonald says that Mike Lowell is the MVP of these Red Sox. Bradford says that lost in Josh Beckett’s performance on Wednesday was the Red Sox hitters incredibly ability to stay in the zone all night long. McAdam notes that the days off in the postseason are great for the pitchers, but can mess with the positional players.
Jerry Beach notes that the Red Sox bullpen is rested and ready. Buckley looks at Kevin Youkilis getting his first postseason home run on Wednesday. Haggerty has Youkilis much happier playing than being a dugout spectator as he was for the 2004 postseason. McAdam says that a new rule weighed into the Red Sox decision to leave Tim Wakefield off the roster for the first round. Haggerty also has Manny Delcarmen living the dream. Jeff Howe says that the Red Sox have exorcised plenty of postseason demons.
Dan Shaughnessy tries to bring up the ghosts, but this time for the Angels, who have lost to the Red Sox seven straight times in the postseason.
Keith Reed has Red Sox fans who are unable to view the postseason games in HD raising a stink about it to their cable providers.
Horrigan’s notebook has Youkilis feeling good and glad to be back in the lineup in time for the postseason. Edes’s notebook has more on Youkilis feeling better in time for the playoffs. Vega’s notebook has Mike Scioscia trying to get more out of his lineup. Krasner’s notebook has Scioscia talking about whether David Ortiz raises his game in the postseason. Goldberg’s notebook has Youkilis getting to play a role in this postseason, rather than being just a spectator. Chimelis’ notebook says that Jacoby Ellsbury could see more action as the postseason moves on. Jarvey’s notebook says that patience is the best approach to take with Escobar.
The Patriots Daily staff gets together for a quick roundtable on the Patriots at the quarter season mark.
John Tomase has Willie McGinest excited to return to Gillette this weekend with the Browns, and promising Patriots fans that he won’t hurt Tom Brady if he has a chance to sack him.
Michael Felger says that the most impressive thing about this Patriots squad, and the factor that makes them a championship contender is their depth…something that they haven’t had the last couple of seasons. Christopher L. Gasper says that the Patriots now have the offensive horses to compare to what Peyton Manning and the Colts have. Robert Lee has the Patriots secondary not giving up the big play thus far this season.
Karen Guregian has Adalius Thomas supplying his teammates with t-shirts meant to keep them humble. David Heuschkel has Bill Belichick giving the shirts an OK. Shalise Manza Young has more on the Patriots keeping it humble. Christopher Price also looks at Thomas’ contribution to the locker room yesterday. Mark Farinella has Thomas talking about why he had the shirts printed.
Douglas Flynn looks at the Browns showing improvement under former Belichick assistant and (still) good friend Romeo Crennel. Jennifer Toland has more on Crennel and his concern about defending Randy Moss this Sunday.
Guregian’s notebook has Rodney Harrison saying that Richard Seymour was his biggest source of support during his suspension. The Globe notebook has more on the t-shirts from Thomas. Lee’s notebook has the Patriots giving Marcellus Rivers a two-year deal. Toland’s notebook has more on the Patriots trying to stay humble. Farinella’s notebook has more on Rivers rejoining the team.
Steve Bulpett has the Celtics considering whether to extend Tony Allen before the end of the month. Marc J. Spears has a look at how for the four players trying to make the final two spots on the Celtics roster, this Italy trip is anything but a holiday. Bulpett’s notebook has the starters getting their act together in practice. The Herald also has the latest entry in Big Baby’s European Diary.
Susan Bickelhaupt looks at Jack Edwards getting to call the Bruins full-time on NESN this season with the network’s decision to part ways with Dale Arnold. David Scott has a look at NESN’s latest move, which is to replace Eric Frede with Kathryn Tappen as studio host of the Bruins games.
Bud Barth has the Bruins searching for an identity. Mick Colageo has P.J. Axelsson adjusting to yet another new coach with the Bruins. Stephen Harris says that the season will be a major test for this franchise. Fluto Shinzawa has Phil Kessel ready to take the next step in his career for the Bruins.