| How the Red Sox, Yankees Compare |
By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004, Page D4
A look at the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees going into the AL championship series, starting Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium: Season Series: Boston won 11-8.
Boston's offense was the best in the regular season, but Mark Bellhorn, Orlando Cabrera and Jason Varitek have struggled in the playoffs. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are the most dangerous hitters at their respective positions and Johnny Damon may be underrated. The Yankees may be just as powerful, if not more. Six Yankees hit home runs in the Division Series. Alex Rodriguez leads the AL in hits in the postseason and is showing he may not be a complementary piece to a Yankees championship, but instead the player who leads New York to a title.
Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was traded in part because of his defensive shortcomings. Cabrera, acquired in that trade, is stellar at his position and helps solidify the entire infield. He has range to both sides and an above-average arm. The outfield defense, led by Damon, is dependable and there are few better behind the plate than Varitek. For the Yankees, Rodriguez has made a smooth transition to third base, but Derek Jeter continues to lose range each year. Bernie Williams in center field is no longer able to track down many balls that go over his head.
Edge: Red Sox
The Yankees' starters in the first three games of the Division Series allowed just six runs. Perhaps the most encouraging outing came from Kevin Brown, who gave up one run in six innings in a Game 3 win. But Boston's starting pitching may be better. Curt Schilling was as dominating as he was in the regular season, though a tricky ankle injury causes some concern. Pedro Martinez seemingly returned to form and Bronson Arroyo emerged as formidable. But the Yankees will provide a stiff test. Can Martinez forget he at one point this season considered the Yankees his daddy?
Edge: Red Sox
The Yankees' Mariano Rivera has a major league record 30 postseason saves, but he enters the ALCS with a heavy heart after the deaths of two family members at his Panama home. Setup man Tom Gordon was spectacular in the regular season (2.21 ERA), but the Yankees don't have a third reliable reliever. Boston signed closer Keith Foulke in the offseason to provide stability, but he blew seven saves while converting 32. Mike Timlin can be effective in spots, but he allowed a game-tying grand slam in Game 3 of the Division Series against Anaheim.
There is no better postseason manager in recent history than Joe Torre. He has had the benefit of an unlimited payroll, but he shares the credit in New York's four championships in the past eight years. Boston Manager Terry Francona still has much to prove. In his five seasons as a manager, Francona has never led a team to a first-place finish and this year was his first winning season. He made several questionable moves in Game 3 against Anaheim, yet somehow managed to win the game. Boston can win this series, though it won't be because of him.
Fearless prediction: Red Sox in six.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company