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Boston vs. Chicago

October 04, 2005|Tim Brown



*--* P Player Avg HR RBI CF Johnny Damon 316 10 75 SS Edgar Renteria 276 8 70 DH David Ortiz 300 47 148 LF Manny Ramirez 292 45 144 RF Trot Nixon 275 13 67 C Jason Varitek 281 22 70 1B John Olerud 289 7 37 3B Bill Mueller 295 10 62 2B Tony Graffanino 309 7 38


* Strengths: The Red Sox scored 910 runs, 169 more than the White Sox. Among the other categories in which they led the American League: average, doubles, runs batted in, walks and on-base percentage. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez drive the offense. The last Red Sox teammates to hit at least 40 home runs in a season were Carl Yastrzemski and Rico Petrocelli in 1969, and Ortiz and Ramirez have done it in consecutive seasons. Johnny Damon scored 117 runs.

* Weaknesses: They have pretty much ridden their bats, ranking near the bottom of the league in pitching and defense. Shortstop Edgar Renteria made 30 errors, Damon has one of the weaker outfield arms and Ramirez at times can appear uninterested in left field. The Red Sox allowed Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe to leave by free agency in the off-season; knuckleballer Tim Wakefield had the lowest earned-run average among regular starters, at 4.15. Closer Keith Foulke, so sturdy last postseason, underwent surgery and was replaced by setup man Mike Timlin.

* Key reserves: 1B/OF Kevin Millar (.272, 9, 50), 2B Alex Cora (.232, 3, 24), IF/OF Kevin Youkilis (.278, 1, 9).

* Team batting: .281, first in AL.

* Team ERA: 4.74, 11th in AL.

* Key to the series: If the Red Sox get any pitching at all, they'll slug their way past the White Sox. They'll start with Matt Clement, who was 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA after the All-Star break, and 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA in September, so they'll have to get better than that. Their bullpen will be more reliable with Lenny DiNardo and Jon Papelbon having thrown well down the stretch, and with Bronson Arroyo leaving the rotation for long relief.


*--* P Player Avg HR RBI LF Scott Podsednik 290 0 25 2B Tadahito Iguchi 278 15 71 RF Jermaine Dye 274 31 86 1B Paul Konerko 283 40 100 DH Carl Everett 251 23 87 CF Aaron Rowand 270 13 69 C A.J. Pierzynski 257 18 56 3B Joe Crede 252 22 62 SS Juan Uribe 252 16 71



* Strengths: The White Sox were second in the league to the Angels in quality starts and their top four starters -- Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras -- had sub-4.00 ERAs. They all pitched at least 200 innings. Their combined postseason experience, however, is 39 innings, 34 by Garcia. The White Sox defense ranked with the best in the league. Although their reputation is for "little ball," the White Sox hit 200 home runs, one more than the Red Sox.

* Weaknesses: At times, the White Sox are a team stuck between offensive philosophies. Their low batting average and on-base percentage and numerous home runs suggest a power team, but they were last in the league in doubles and they attempted 204 steals, second-most in the league. Leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik symbolized the off-season makeover that put speed back in the lineup. He suffered a groin injury, however, and after stealing 50 bases in 59 tries through July 22, was caught 14 times in 23 attempts. Rookie Bobby Jenks was cast into the closer role when Dustin Hermanson faltered, and closing games remains a concern.

* Key reserves: IF Geoff Blum (.200, 1, 3), IF Pablo Ozuna (.276, 0, 11), OF Timo Perez (.218, 2, 15), C Chris Widger (.241, 4, 11).

* Team batting: .262, 12th in AL.

* Team ERA: 3.61, second in AL.

* Key to the series: Podsednik's legs showed some life in the final week of the regular season. If he pushes the offense, and Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye and Carl Everett put the ball in play, the White Sox can stay with the Red Sox over a short period. The pitching is good, but in most games they'll need to score four or five runs to win.



Best-of-five series; all times Pacific

* TODAY: Boston (Clement 13-6) at Chicago (Contreras 15-7), 1 p.m., ESPN

* WEDNESDAY: Boston (Wells 15-7) at Chicago (Buehrle 16-8), 4 p.m., ESPN

* FRIDAY: Chicago (Garcia 14-8) at Boston (Wakefield 16-12), 1:15 p.m., ESPN2

* SATURDAY: Chicago (Garland 18-10) at Boston (Schilling 8-8), TBA, if necessary

* SUNDAY: Boston at Chicago, TBA, if necessary

-- Tim Brown

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