AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: BOSTON RED SOX VS. NEW YORK YANKEES (NEW YORK LEADS, 1-0)
3B Alex Rodriguez took some heat this season about his ability to hit with runners in scoring position, but he came up strong in the Division Series, hitting .421 with a homer in three RBI.
RHP Mariano Rivera was back in New York and in the bullpen for Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. Rivera flew to Panama after two relatives were electrocuted while cleaning the pool at his home in Panama.
RHP Javier Vazquez gave up five runs in Game 4 of the Division Series, so despite pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre's claim of improvement, that's still a lot of runs, especially in the postseason, and it must be remembered he's won only twice since August.
DH Ruben Sierra's game-tying homer might have sealed the Yankees' decision on Jason Giambi for the ALCS. Manager Joe Torre said Sierra was overanxious and too long with his swing in the first two games of the Division Series, but he worked to shorten it with hitting instructor Don Mattingly. "He's worked hard," Torre said. "He's been a good pinch-hitter and good player off the bench."
RHP Kevin Brown pitched six innings in Game 3 of the AL Division Series but was sore the morning after. He's scheduled to start pivotal Game 3 Friday at Boston.
RHP Tanyon Sturtze has started, worked in long relief and is now getting setup opportunities. He retired the final 20 right-handed hitters he faced in the regular season.
SS Derek Jeter has reached base in 20 straight Division Series games and entered the ALCS as the postseason career hits leader with 129.
RHP Scott Williamson, who made every possible effort to return to the mound, yielded to the necessity of a second Tommy John operation on his right elbow. Williamson flew to Cincinnati after the Sox completed their three-game sweep of Anaheim. Reds team doctor Richard Kremchek will perform the procedure. "He probably isn't going to pitch," Francona suggested with gallows humor before clarifying his reliever's status for the duration of the postseason. "He's done."
RHP Keith Foulke improved upon his checkered postseason past. Though he entered the playoffs with an 0-2 mark in two Octobers, the Sox closer logged three shutout innings in the first round.
DH David Ortiz went Barry Bonds in the Division Series. The Angels elected to pitch around the beefy basher, walking him five times. When they did pitch to him, they suffered, as Ortiz went 6-for-11 (.545), including the series-clinching walk-off homer.
LF Manny Ramirez led the Sox with 7 RBIs while going 5-for-13 (.385) in the Division Series. Ramirez proved surprisingly aggressive both as a baserunner willing to pressure the defense and as a free swinger in the batter's box. In Game 3 of the Division Series, Ramirez swung at the first pitch in five of six at-bats.
CF Johnny Damon stole three bases in the Division Series, tripling the number of sacks swiped by the Angels. Damon finished second on the Sox in batting average (7-for-15) while also matching Ortiz for the team lead in runs (4).
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: HOUSTON ASTROS AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (SERIES TIED, 0-0)
RHP Roger Clemens, going on three days' rest instead of the regular four, held the Braves to two runs over five innings and left with a 5-2 lead. He was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over two starts in the Division Series.
3B Scott Rolen, sidelined during the final weeks because of a strained left calf, played in the Division Series but was in a 3-for-31 drought. However, he was hitting more balls hard and walked three times in the last game vs. the Dodgers.
LHP Steve Kline is pitching with a painful torn tendon in his left index finger, but has been effective in retiring key left-handed hitters. "I can stand the pain for 10 minutes a day," he said.
RHP Chris Carpenter, who was going to start Game 1 of the playoffs, probably won't be pitching at all the rest of the season. Carpenter, a 15-game winner for the Cardinals after missing last season with shoulder difficulties, has a nerve problem in his right biceps, similar to what has plagued Los Angeles ace Brad Penny.
RHP Jason Marquis is fading. He has just one win in his last six starts, including a battering in the second game of the Division Series.
SS Edgar Renteria started the first two games of the Division Series with a big bang. He had two doubles, two singles and two walks and looked much like the player who drove in 100 runs and batted .330 a year ago. He will continue to hit down in the order to maximize his RBI abilities.
C Mike Matheny, a hitter of not much repute, had a 12-game postseason hitting streak before it was snapped in Game 4 vs. Los Angeles.
LF Reggie Sanders has qualified for four National League Championship Series with four different clubs, believed to be unusual, if not unique.
LF Reggie Sanders, who has had some intermittent success in the playoffs, had a big game (3 for 3) in Game 2 of the Division Series and hit a solo homer in Game 4.
2B Tony Womack was about as consistent a player as the Cardinals had this year. He hit .307 in the first 81 games of the season and .307 in the second 81 games. But Womack is hitting too many flyballs so far in the postseason. He had just one hit in the first two games.
RF Larry Walker, excited about his first postseason opportunity in nine years, cracked two homers in Game 1 of the division series and doubled home a run in Game 2. Hitting in front of 1B Albert Pujols can only get him fastball after fastball.
RHP Dan Haren has become one of the Cardinals' most reliable pitchers. He worked two key innings in Game 2 to gain credit for the victory after putting together several strong relief outings and starts near the end of the regular season. The Pepperdine product will be in next year's rotation.
Scout.com MLB Playoff Wire
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