GT: Red Sox @ Angels - ALDS Game One - Oct. 8

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to playoff baseball.

Tonight is game one of the American League Divisional Series between the Red Sox and Angels. As we all know, these two teams are no stranger to each other. The history is wonderful for Red Sox fans, and something you want to forget if you're an Angels fan.

Let's take a closer look at tonight's game.

 

The series outlook:


Current Series

3 game series vs Angels @ Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Boston Red Sox
@ Los Angeles Angels

Thursday, Oct 8, 2009, 9:37 PM EDT
Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Jon Lester vs John Lackey

Partly cloudy. Winds blowing in from left field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 65.

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Complete Coverage >

Fri 10/09 9:37 PM EDT
Sun 10/11 8:05 PM EDT

And the lineups:

Red Sox:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, cf
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2b
  3. Victor Martinez, c
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 1b
  5. David Ortiz, dh
  6. Jason Bay, lf
  7. Mike Lowell, 3b
  8. J.D. Drew, rf
  9. Alex Gonzalez, ss

Angels:

  1. Chone Figgins, 3b
  2. Bobby Abreu, rf
  3. Torii Hunter, cf
  4. Vladimir Guerrero, dh
  5. Juan Rivera, lf
  6. Kendry Morales, 1b
  7. Howie Kendrick, 2b
  8. Jeff Mathis, c
  9. Erick Aybar, ss

As we all know, the Sox will face the Angels' ace, John Lackey. Here are his season stats:


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - John Lackey 11-8 27 27 1 1 0 0 176.1 177 84 75 17 47 139 3.83 1.27

His success against the Red Sox, though, has been mixed. Let's take a closer look at what Lackey has done against Boston both this year and in his career:

VERSUS THE RED SOX
This season
IP GS K/9 SO/BB WHIP ERA
7.2 1 7.0 2.00 1.435 2.35
Career
IP GS K/9 SO/BB WHIP ERA
84 14 6.9 1.94 1.643 5.25
VERSUS THE RED SOX (POSTSEASON)
IP GS K/9 SO/BB WHIP ERA
19.2 3 4.68 1.66 1.35 3.66

Lackey was solid in his one start against the Sox this season, but gave up a few too many hits and walks. Also in the postseason -- as a whole -- Lackey has done all right, but still not the most impressive numbers. But in his career? Not the best in 84 innings. The Sox know how to hit this guy and it only becomes easier the more they see him.

Here are Lackey's stats at home:

AT HOME
This season
IP GS K/9 SO/BB WHIP ERA
86.1 13 7.1 2.72 1.309 3.86
Career
IP GS K/9 SO/BB WHIP ERA
734 112 7.3 2.65 1.297 3.72

No surprise here: Lackey has always been good at home.

For the Sox, it will be Jon Lester. Here are Lester's season stats:


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jon Lester 15-8 32 32 2 0 0 0 203.1 186 80 77 20 64 225 3.41 1.23

Pretty solid, but his numbers, if you look a little deeper, are better than his overall stat line. His year-end stats were severely hurt by a tough April and May. But since then ... money:

MONTH IP K/9 K/BB ERA WHIP
June 34 10.6 6.67 1.85 0.853
July 34.2 8.8 2.43 2.60 1.327
August 33.2 10.4 4.33 2.41 0.891
Sept/Oct 35.2 9.6 3.45 2.52 1.234

Just dominant. He's been freaky consistent since June and batters have barely touched him. June especially was probably the best Lester has ever pitched.

Unfortunately, Lester has not been as good on the road this season. He hasn't been horrible, but he hasn't been June-good:

On the road this season:
IP GS K/9 K/BB ERA WHIP
112 18 10.5 3.64 3.86 1.25

Like I said, not horrible, but not Lester's best either. He's been better at home (2.86 ERA, five home runs at home, 15 on the road) on this season, but the Sox will have to make due with Lester's presence in Anaheim ... or Los Angeles. Wherever they are.

The key to winning game one: Make Lackey throw as many pitches as possible. He has a history of giving up a good amount of hits and walks, but the Sox need to take advantage of that and knock in runners on the basepaths. If the Sox can get Lackey off the mound early, their chances to score against the bullpen are very good. The bullpen, throughout the whole series, will be the key for the Sox -- face them early and hit them hard.

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