All games on WTTG-5, WBFF-45

Game 1: 8 p.m. tonight

Game 2: 8 p.m. Thursday

Game 3: 4 p.m. Saturday

Game 4: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Game 5 (if needed): 8 p.m. Monday

Game 6 (if needed): 4 p.m. Oct. 20

Game 7 (if needed): 8 p.m. Oct. 21

Since the start of the season, the Yankees had to fight two opponents: the rest of the American League and the spectre of their '98 season, when they cruised to 125 wins and their 24th world championship. The '99 Yankees showed many more weaknesses and won 16 fewer regular season games.

But in their first-round series, the Yankees throttled the potent bats of the Texas Rangers, holding them to just one run in a three-game sweep. The main concern for Manager Joe Torre's Yankees is the health of right fielder Paul O'Neill, who has a fractured rib and missed Game 3 against Texas. Torre has to have his roster set for the ALCS by 10 a.m. today.

The main advantage New York has in this series is rest. The Yankees will have had three days off when the series starts today; the Red Sox will have just one day off. Pitcher David Cone, who has fared better this year on five days' rest than he has on four, has not pitched since Oct. 2.

Even more encouraging for the Yankees was the performance by Roger Clemens in Game 3 against Texas. After a mediocre regular season, Clemens got just his second postseason victory in 10 starts by throwing seven shutout innings in a 3-0, series-clinching win.

The Yankees have experience and one of the best homefield advantages in the league on their side, but the key will be their ability to beat Boston in games that Pedro Martinez does not start. Should they falter in one or two of those games, they could be forced to beat a pitcher that was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 28 strikeouts and no walks in 16 innings pitched against them this year.


AL East Champions

Projected lineup

1. Chuck Knoblauch 2B

2. Derek Jeter SS

3. Paul O'Neill RF

4. Bernie Williams CF

5. Tino Martinez 1B

6. Darryl Strawberry DH

7. Jorge Posada C

8. Ricky Ledee LF

9. Scott Brosius 3B

Boston's berth in the ALCS is one of the more unlikely stories in baseball's recent past. The Red Sox trailed the heavily favored Indians, two games to none, and scored just three runs against the much-maligned Cleveland pitching staff. They also had lost ace pitcher Pedro Martinez in the fourth inning of Game 1 with a strained back muscle.

But somehow the Red Sox scored 44 runs in the next three games, including 23 in Game 4, to eliminate the Indians in five games. Martinez provided the spark in Game 5, pitching six no-hit innings of relief to bail out Bret Saberhagen, who was ineffective in two starts in the series.

Boston now must face an experienced and rested Yankees team that has won 20 of its past 25 postseason games, dating from the '96 World Series. And with Martinez having thrown 97 pitches on Monday, Manager Jimy Williams likely will not have his ace available until Game 3.

Saberhagen will have to fare better than he did against Cleveland, when he allowed 11 earned runs in 3C innings. He also walked four batters after allowing only 11 walks the entire regular season. Boston hopes it can get another solid effort from Pedro's older brother, Ramon, who allowed two runs in 5C innings in Game 3.

But despite all the factors that will make New York a favorite in the series, the emotion of the Cleveland series and the fact that Boston was 8-4 against the defending champs this year (including a three-game sweep in New York in mid-September) could make it competitive and lengthy. And if the series were to go to Game 7, Pedro Martinez's presence would likely make Boston the favorite.

Red Sox

AL Wild-Card Winner

Projected lineup

1. Jose Offerman 2B

2. John Valentin 3B

3. Brian Daubach DH

4. Nomar Garciaparra SS

5. Troy O'Leary LF

6. Mike Stanley 1B

7. Jason Varitek C

8. Darren Lewis CF

9. Trot Nixon RF