Monday, October 13, 2008

Game 3 Preview: Young Guns

Tonight's Game 3 starters - Jon Lester for the Sox and Matt Garza for the Rays - share more than a few things in common. They both made their major-league debuts in the summer of 2006, and they were both born on the West Coast, less than two months apart from each other - Garza in Selma, California on November 11, 1983; Lester in Tacoma, Washington on January 7, 1984.

They're alike in stature, too, both tall and lanky - and bigger than they seem on TV. If you look at career big-league numbers, though, that's where the similarities end. Lester has made 59 starts and has a 27-8 won-loss record, a 3.81 ERA, and a 262 to 140 K over walks. Lester has also been tough to homer off - giving up only an average of 10 per season.

Garza has made 54 starts, and has a career mark of 19-22 with a 4.02 ERA. His K to walk is 233 to 114. He's been stingy with homers too, giving up just a couple more than Lester.

On paper, and the way he's been going lately, Lester is clearly the favorite to pitch another great game and deliver the Sox a clutch win. But as all good Sox fans, I worry - and in this case, I'm worried about the old law of averages. Lester hasn't allowed an earned run in 14 postseason innings so far, while Garza - a better pitcher than his overall record shows - hasn't won a game since August 27. Can Lester keep it up? Will luck finally find Garza? These are the questions we need answers to.

Some quick, random thoughts:

* Everyone thinks Josh Beckett is hurt but if he is, he ain't letting on. Beckett continues to adamantly say that he's okay, that it's more of a question about rustiness and mechanics. We'll see. All I know is when he's only able to push it up to about 92, something is wrong.

* David Ortiz needs to hit. Big Papi has no hits and no RBI's in this series, and is hitting .174 in October.

* Youk continues to show why he's the American League MVP. Evan Longoria's not far behind.

* How 'bout that Jason Bay, huh? I think I heard this right, that he's got 9 two-out ribbies in the playoffs? Clutch.

* Why can't we have an outfielder that can throw? I know Perez is fast, but that play at the plate to end the game should have been much closer.

* Another stunning stat from Saturday night, courtesy of Tony Mazz - Beckett threw 93 pitches and got only 4 swings and misses. Unheard of.

* The walks are killing me. Let's add 'em up. 21 walks between the two teams in 2 games.

* Papi's not the only one that needs to come alive tonight - so does Ellsbury. I see a bunt or two in his future.

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