Game one was a resounding victory and a great confidence booster, but it was simply one game. We need to win three against the Angels. Game two will be played tonight, at 8:30 pm, at Fenway Park. Daisuke Matsuzaka will get the ball for the Red Sox, going up against Kelvim Escobar. Let’s take an inside look at the Red Sox matchups:
Daisuke Matsuzaka, P:
He went 15-12 on the season with a 4.40 ERA. He did not face the Angels. That is a good thing, though: throughout the entire season Matsuzaka was disproportionately good in his first appearance against a team. In such situations, he averaged 6.8 IP, 2.4 ER, 7.3 strikeouts and posted a 3.15 ERA.
Lineup vs. Escobar:
Dustin Pedroia, 2B: 0 for 4, .000 BA, 1 K
Kevin Youkilis, 1B: 1 for 6, .167 BA, 2 Ks
David Ortiz, DH: 5 for 26, .192 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BBs, 10 Ks
Manny Ramirez, LF: 8 for 34, .235 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BBs, 9 Ks
Mike Lowell, 3B: 5 for 15, .333 BA, 1 RBI, 3 Ks
J.D. Drew, RF: 1 for 5, .200 BA, 1 BB, 2 Ks
Jason Varitek, C: 7 for 22, .318 BA, 4 RBI, 8 BBs, 4 Ks
Coco Crisp, CF: 5 for 14, .357 BA, 1 RBI, 3 BBs, 1 K
Julio Lugo, SS: 4 for 7, .571 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BBs, 2 Ks
Papi and Manny have found Escobar surprisingly difficult in the past. The bottom of the lineup has fared much better: Jason Varitek’s 8 BB against Escobar jumps out as a number to watch out for. If Varitek, Crisp and Lugo, all of whom have hit .300 or better against Escobar, can get on base consistently in the early innings it will make his task against the top of the order that much harder. Lugo’s .571 BA is the second-highest (behind Bubba Trammell) among players with 10 or more PAs against Escobar.
Kelvim Escobar, P:
Escobar finished the year with great numbers, going 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA. He did not face the Red Sox in 2007, but has faced them thirty-six times (including eleven starts) throughout his career. In these appearances he has gone 6-7, also recording two saves, with a 4.64 ERA. As for his 2007, September was by far his worst month. In five starts, he somehow went 3-1 while posting a 7.99 ERA.
All pitchers struggle when behind in the count, but Escobar simply deflates: his opponent BA was an identical .438 on 2-0 and 3-1 counts. His opponent OBP on 3-0 counts was .900. The moral of this story is very simple: take pitches early. If he’s not finding the strike zone, he’ll be in for a long night. He allowed a .637 OPS in innings 1-3, a .711 OPS in innings 4-6, and a .648 OPS in innings 7-9. That bell curve has almost the exact same shape as Matsuzaka’s, so if fireworks are to come tonight we can expect them in the middle innings.