|Yankees (9/5 Odds) Favorite to Win World Series||10.06.09 at 4:50 pm ET|
According to bodog.com, the Yankees are viewed as the odds-on favorites to win the World Series after a year in which New York led the majors with 103 victories. New York was given 9/5 odds to win the Series, followed by the Cardinals (5/1) and then the Red Sox (11/2). Here is the list of odds for all the playoff participants (including both the Tigers and Twins, whose one-game playoff will come later today), as produced by bodog:
|Odds to win the World Series|
|New York Yankees||9/5|
|St Louis Cardinals||5/1|
|Boston Red Sox||11/2|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||7/1|
|Los Angeles Angels||8/1|
|Odds to win the NL Pennant|
|St Louis Cardinals||9/5|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||5/2|
|Odds to win the AL Pennant|
|New York Yankees||4/5|
|Boston Red Sox||11/4|
|Los Angeles Angels||13/4|
|Hunter: ‘I don’t give a damn about last year’||10.06.09 at 4:37 pm ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Speaking prior the Angels’ workout, Tuesday at Angels Stadium, Los Angeles outfielder Torii Hunter admitted this: That the magnitude of the games in last season’s American League Division Series might have gotten to some of the Angels.
“It’s not because it’s Boston. I think it’s because of just the hype,” said Hunter regarding the Red Sox’ ALDS win of a year ago. “Last year a couple of guys got caught up in the hype of the playoffs, the Boston Red Sox and Angels of the past. But I think guys are a year over and a lot more mature than the past and I think they’re going to go out there and do some great things.”
After that, however, Hunter wasn’t going down that road — at least to the extent he did following the Angels’ last visit to Fenway Park when he said …
“If you play nervous, you’re going to make mistakes,” Hunter said. “Show some nuts.
“I can’t speak for these guys. I can speak for myself. I know what I feel like. I’m pissed. You know, I’m pissed off.
“There’s some sick talent on here. I love this team, I love them to death. But to win we’ve got to show nuts.
“”We need to do better. Got to do better, got to play better, got to have more fun. Play every game, play to win, but enjoy it and have fun. Let your God-given ability take place. You don’t let a crowd or an atmosphere change anything. If you strike out, you strike out. If you mess up on a play you mess up on a play. Don’t show me signs of soft, [show] nuts. ”
This time, when asked about Hunter insinuating the Angels’ played differently against the Red Sox, Hunter responded, ”I didn’t say that. I never said that. I said you needed to play with some nuts, that’s what I said. I didn’t say nothing about the Red Sox, you guys did. You’ve just got to go out and play the game. It’s the same game. You can’t get caught up in the hype or nothing like that. Just play the game. Play the game the right way. Even me, I have to play the game the right way. I try to, but hopefully we can get other guys to, and I know we will.”
“Last year is last year. I’m not talking about last year. You can sit here and talk about it all you want. You can write about it. I don’t give a damn about last year. I just know about the task at hand, which is Thursday, or maybe tomorrow, you never know.”
Hunter also touched on the affect playing for the memory of Nick Adenhart, the pitcher who passed away in a car accident earlier this season, has had on this year’s Angels team.
“We’re playing withe purpose with the passing of Nick Adenhart, every day we carry that jersey wherever we go, we look at it, and we just say Hey, we’re going to play hard for us and for him. That’s what we’ve been doing lately, playing with a passion and a purpose and having a lot of fun and that’s what we’re going to try and continue to do.
“We wanted him with us and that’s why we doused his jersey. I know a lot of people was upset with that, but it has nothing to do with what they’re thinking about. You’ve got to be crazy to say that it don’t seem right to douse alcohol on Nick Adenhart’s jersey. If he was here he would be right there jumping up and down with champagne so we decided to do it that way and it was very exciting and very emotional for us.”
Regarding the Angels’ ability to take advantage of the running game against the Red Sox, Hunter said that it had little to do with the team they were facing and more to do with an organizational philosophy. LA finished third in the American League with 148 stolen bases, notching 15 against the Red Sox with just two times being caught.
“I think we just run, I don’t think it has anything to do with the Red Sox,” Hunter said. “We do everybody the same way. We try and run on everybody, we just use our talents. We have a lot of guys with speed on the ballclub and we just run. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Red Sox, we just go out and play. If we happen to run more on the Red Sox, I don’t look at numbers because I’m a player. We don’t look at numbers, you guys do.”
|Lester Looks Back At Game 7 in 2008 As He Prepares to Move Forward||10.06.09 at 3:43 pm ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif – It has now been almost a year, and Jon Lester can still recall the details with little effort. But while it would be easy to assume that the recollections of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series have been weighty, nothing could be further from the case.
Lester and the Red Sox were outpitched by Matt Garza and the Rays in a 3-1 defeat that propelled Tampa Bay to the World Series and that yanked the carpet from under Boston’s season. The fact that the young left-hander’s breakout season concluded with a loss was distressing. Still, as he prepares to take the ball for Game 1 of the American League Division Series, Lester (15-8, 3.41 ERA in 2009) insists that he hasn’t spent a year stewing and waiting to avenge the defeat.
“It was cool. It was fun,” Lester recalled of the Game 7 responsibility. “Obviously, there was importance to it, but out on the mound I didn’t feel like there was. I was able to slow things down. The game didn’t speed up on me. I executed pitches.
“Game 7 last year, I still feel like I threw the ball better than any start during the regular season or any start during the postseason and I got beat. That happens. … I felt like there was one pitch that, if I could have back, I would,” he added, alluding to the homer he gave up to Willy Aybar on a fastball that remained up and over the plate. “Out of the [107 pitches] I threw, that’s a pretty good ratio.”
Lester learned a great deal from his first run as a rotation anchor in the postseason. He started Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS against the Angels, firing 14 innings without allowing an earned run. He then endured a poor outing against the Rays in a Game 3 loss (5.2 innings, 5 runs) in the ALCS, before his tough-luck defeat in the winner-take-all contest in Game 7. He finished the postseason with a 1-2 record but a 2.36 ERA.
Through the run, Lester followed a fairly simple formula. He became adept in bringing the same focus and execution to each pitch that he did in the regular season.
In three of his four starts, he did that, including the Game 7 loss. In that game, Lester recalls easily the Rays scoring the go-ahead run on the strength of a double, an infield single by catcher Dioner Navarro and then a Rocco Baldelli grounder that just as easily could have been a double-play ball as a run-scoring single.
“The pitch I threw to Rocco that he hit into the hole, I wanted to throw that pitch. I thought it was the pitch to get him out. He hit it into the hole. We don’t get to that situation if Navarro hits the ball five feet harder,” Lester shrugged. “That’s the thing about baseball. Things happen that you can’t explain. I executed a pitch but didn’t get him out. What other sport does that happen?
“Some things are meant to happen. They were meant to get to the World Series. Some years, it’s just a battle to the end to figure out who’s going.”
That said, Lester takes no joy in having come up short of the goal he helped the Sox achieve when having been the pitcher of record in the clinching game of the 2007 World Series. He suggests that he entered spring training with the same goal in sight on an annual basis, and that anything short of a championship will leave him “[ticked] off.”
All the same, as he prepares to begin his next postseason chapter, Lester views last year’s Game 7 loss not simply as a failure but also as a learning opportunity. He relished shouldering the load for his club on October 19, and welcomes the chance to do so again as the curtain is lifted on this year’s postseason.
Soon, Lester will have that opportunity once again against the Angels. For the second straight year, he is the pitcher who will be entrusted with launching the Sox’ postseason ambitions. It is a responsibility that will not overwhelm him.
“That’s what makes this game so fun. No matter how good you are, or how good you think you are, you’re always humbled at some point. It doesn’t take a good day or bad day to realize it,” said Lester. “It all comes down to the same stuff you do during the season. It just means something now.
“You lose, you go home. You can ask anybody the question. They’ll say postseason is fun, you try to stay relaxed. But there’s always that added emphasis on every pitch, every swing, every out. I think the people that do that are the ones who are able to set aside that need or desire to do well.”
|Where the sun never leaves||10.06.09 at 3:22 pm ET|
In a shocking development … it’s sunny at Angels Stadium.
The schedule for the first day of workouts leading up to Game 1 of the American League Division Series is as follows (all times Eastern):
3:15: Angels clubhouse opens to the media
4:00: Angels workout on the field
5:15: Mike Scioscia and John Lackey conduct press conferences
5:45-6:30: Red Sox clubhouse opens to the media
6:30: Terry Francona and Jon Lester conduct press conferences
7:00: Red Sox workout on the field
We will have updates throughout the day …
|Daisuke braces for new role||10.06.09 at 1:20 am ET|
Daisuke Matsuzaka was one of the pitchers who threw a bullpen session Monday at Fenway Park in preparation of any appearance in the American League Division Series. In Matsuzaka’s case, however, it isn’t clear when or where that next post-season outing might be.
There is a possibility that Matsuzaka could pitch Game 4, but there is, as Red Sox manager Terry Francona pointed out Sunday, a scenario in which Jon Lester could come back on short rest to fill that spot.
Whatever the task, however, Matsuzaka said he will be ready.
“I think in my mind I was prepared for whatever news that was given, and ultimately that’s what was in best interest of the team,” Matsuzaka said through translator Masa Hoshino following the pitcher’s side session. “There are a few situations in which I can be expected to pitch and I will be prepared for all of them.”
As for how he found out Clay Buchholz would be getting the start in the third game of the American League Division Series, Matsuzaka explained, ”I don’t think it was presented to me in a formal way, but I spoke with the manager and he told me these are the three pitchers in the ALDS. Whether it’s coming in relief or starting, the goal is the same and that’s to contribute and help give the team a chance to win.”
Since Sept. 1, Matsuzaka had the best ERA (2.22) and opponents batting average against (.237) of any of the Red Sox’ starters, while going 3-1. Still, according to his statements Monday, he feels no obligation to attempt anything more than contribute in whatever way necessary.
“I don’t know if need to make any further appeal and whatever happens from here on out I’ll be ready for,” Matsuzaka said.
|Car crash latest bump in the road for Delcarmen||10.05.09 at 1:57 pm ET|
Manny Delcarmen is bracing himself for anything.
The reliever said Monday afternoon from the Red Sox’ clubhouse that manager Terry Francona hasn’t let him know about what his role in the American League Division Series. It is no lock that Delcarmen will be on the roster for the playoffs’ initial run, but the pitcher continued to prepare, just the same.
He reported he is feeling much better after a Saturday afternoon car crash, in which he ran into a median on Interstate 93 that left him feeling the affects the last few days.
“I feel a little sore in my back and my neck a little bit,” he said, “but it’s definitely better than the last two days … It was in the middle of my back, moved down to my lower back. My neck feels 100 times better than it did yesterday so little by little we’ll see how it feels and hopefully everything is good.”
Delcarmen’s plan was to throw from 120 feet prior to the Red Sox leaving for Anaheim, Monday afternoon, and then wait for the next shoe to drop. He tried to throw from 90 feet Sunday, but was hindered by the soreness in his neck.
Whatever happens, the reliever can already classify this season as the most uneven of his five-year major league career. Delcarmen finished the 2009 regular season with a 5-2 record and 4.53 ERA in 64 games. After allowing just three earned runs in 21 appearances through the first two months, things have gone somewhat south for the 27-year-old.
Since June 9, Delcarmen has succumbed to a 6.81 ERA in 41 appearances, giving up 44 hits in 35 2/3 innings. He has also walked as many as he has struck out over the span (25).
“It’s been weird for me this year because normally I start out a little shaky and finish strong and this year was the complete opposite,” Delcarmen said. “My velocity was down a little bit and we are trying to figure out what the cause of that. It feels great right now. Being in an accident doesn’t really help me out that much. It’s just tough for me these last couple of weeks and hopefully I feel good, get on the mound. My job is to get guys out and hopefully I can do that.
“Body-wise I felt good. My shoulder felt fine at times. This back thing here probably gives me a little more rest. Who knows? Maybe I’ll come back throwing 98. We’ll see what happens.”
As for the car accident, which was his first major one — having been rear-ended once before — Delcarmen said that a car in the middle lane veered off into the right lane, sending the automobile that ultimately pushed the pitcher’s Hummer in the median out of control. The incident happened at 2 p.m. near the Dorchester/South Boston portion of I-93.
“I felt like I was OK,” said Delcarmen of how he came away from the accident immediately after it happened.” I’ve been rear-ended before, but not really that hard. I hit the wall and saw the Hummer slowly disintegrate behind me. It was kind of weird. But when I felt like I was OK, it felt like a movie.”
In other news, Rocco Baldelli’s strained hip flexor continues to be treated aggressively after getting he received an MRI Sunday. He is still in the mix to be named to the ALDS roster.
Here’s an audio sample of other news from the clubhouse.
|A Farewell (To 2009?) For the Captain||10.05.09 at 3:46 am ET|
Jason Varitek’s season had its moments, foremost in the first couple of months of the season, when he every time he connected with the ball it seemed to jump as if struck by a sledgehammer. But his performance waned as the season progressed, and so when Victor Martinez brought thump back to the catching position, Varitek saw his job description narrow.
Varitek’s playing time diminished, as the Sox worked to develop a rapport between Martinez and each of the four postseason starters. But the 37-year-old, who before this season signed a one-year, $5 million deal that came with a $5 million team option and a $3 million player option for the 2010 season, never made an issue of his decreased playing time.
“Jason Varitek has had a reduced role. He’s the captain of our team,” said Francona. “There hasn’t been one instance where Tek has done anything except try to help make our team better.”
As such, Francona felt compelled to give Varitek a moment to take a bow in Sunday’s season finale. After Clay Buchholz (who was working with Martinez) left the game, Varitek entered to work the middle innings. With one out in the top of the eighth, Dusty Brown entered the contest so that Varitek could leave the field to an ovation from the Fenway crowd.
Clearly, the ovation was about more than Varitek’s .209 average, .312 OBP and .703 OPS in 2009. Varitek received a salute from the crowd for his 1,439 games with the Red Sox, for the two World Series teams on which he was the defining clubhouse presence, and a career in which he has been focused solely on the betterment of his team, even if it came at the expense of personal goals.
Varitek expressed appreciation for the treatment, even if it might him slightly sheepish.
“I get kind of embarrassed,” said Varitek. “It was kind of a blur for me. I got caught kind of off guard. … I’ve been here a long time. I definitely appreciate it.”
Of course, there is a chance that Sunday represented the final opportunity for Fenway Park to salute Varitek as a member of the Red Sox. Assuming that the Sox do not exercise their team option, it is conceivable that Varitek could decline the player option to seek a larger opportunity elsewhere, or that he could simply call it quits.
Right now, such scenarios are purely speculative. Varitek suggests that it would be inappropriate for him to discuss the 2010 season so long as his team is competing for a championship.
“That’s not a fair question to ask right now,” Varitek said of his plans for 2010. “We’ve got the playoffs to think of.”
Nonetheless, on Sunday, just in case 2009 becomes Varitek’s swan song with the Sox, it seemed an appropriate moment for the longtime backbone of the Sox to receive his due.
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