Thursday, October 4, 2007
Pitching Dominates Game 1 Wins
Josh Beckett, Brandon Webb and Jeff Francis turned in stellar performances in opening-game wins for Boston, Arizona and Colorado. The Yankees-Indians series opens this afternoon in Cleveland. Boston 4 LA Angels 0 - Josh Beckett (right) blanked the Angels on 4 hits in a complete game shutout (something he failed to do in the regular season), staking the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five Divisional Playoff series. Beckett, phenomenal in the post-season, hurled his second straight playoff shutout, running his post-season scoreless streak to 18 innings. Beckett's last post-season appearance was in 2003, when he pitched the final game of the World Series, when he shut out the NY Yankees and won the series MVP award. Following a leadoff single by Chone Figgins, Beckett retired 19 straight batters and finished allowing just four hits, two by Vladimir Guerrero. Beckett struck out 8 and didn't issue any walks, throwing just 108 pitches,83 of them for strikes. Kevin Youkilis hit a solo homer in the first to stake Beckett to an early lead, and David Ortiz supplied a two-run blast in the 3rd inning off LA starter John Lackey. The series continues at Fenway on Thursday with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound for Boston against the Angels' Kelvim Escobar. Colorado 4 Philadelphia 2 - Jeff Francis wasn't worried that the Phillies led the league in scoring through the regular season as he earned a hard-fought win in the opener of the divisional series. Francis worked six full innings, allowing just 4 hits and two runs on back-to-back solo homers in the fifth inning by Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell. The Rockies had gotten to Philly's ace, Cole Hamels, for three runs in the third and Matt Holliday added insurance with a solo shot of his own in the 8th inning. Colorado's bullpen was also brilliant. LaTroy Hawkins, Brian Fuentes and Manny Corpas each pitched an inning of hitless ball to finish off the potent Phillies. The series resumes Thursday at 3:00 pm in Philadelphia. Arizona 3 Chicago Cubs 1 - Pitching and defense are what got the Diamondbacks to the NL West title and the same strategy worked like a charm as their ace, Brandon Webb (right) allowed just one run on four hits over seven strong innings. Webb was locked into a duel with Chicago starter, Carlos Zambrano, who was lifted for a pinch-hitter after just 6 innings and 85 pitches by manager Lou Piniella. That approach didn't exactly pan out for Sweet Lou, as reliever Carlos Marmol surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced, Mark Reynolds, leading off the 7th inning. After that, Marmol walked Chris Snyder, gave up a double to Augie Ojeda and Conor Jackson - pinch-hitting for Webb - got the insurance run home with a sac fly. Arizona's Brandon Lyon set the Cubs down in order in the 8th, and Jose Valverde, who led the majors with 47 saves, slammed the door with a hitless ninth inning. Webb struck out 9, including getting slugger Derrek Lee three times on strikes. This divisional series resumes Thursday in Phoenix at 10:00 ET. Doug Davis heads to the hill for Arizona against the Cubs' Ted Lilly.