OK...there is way too much panic in the air in Boston. Let's face it. The reality of the situation is that the Sox fared very well against the two Cleveland aces, and they were a missed sliding catch away (Sizemore grabbing Youk's sinking line drive with Ellsbury on second) from a 2-0 lead. The fact that Gagne, Lopez and Lester couldn't shut down the Indians doesn't concern me much.
Before the start of the series, did anyone think the Sox would be up 2-0 after facing Carmona and Sabathia? Possibly, but not likely. Ok, they didn't lose to Carmona, but the result is the same. And, honestly, I don't think we'll see Gagne and Lopez in key situations again in this series.
Beckett was dominant in Game 1, and I expect more the same from him in Game 5 against Sabathia in Cleveland. But, let's not jump that far ahead, yet...
Daisuke v Westbrook
In my opinion, Diasuke can have his crappy one inning in this one and be just fine. The reality of the situation is that Westbrook is going to have trouble with this lineup. He walks a fair number of people and gives up a lot of hits. If the Sox stay patient, they should be fine.
Diasuke can't nibble too much in this one. He's had a ton of success when pounding the strike zone. If he gets an out or two in to the seventh, giving up 4 runs or so, the Sox should be fine.
Wakefield v Byrd
A ton of questions here...The most pressing of which would be Wakefield's health. Knowing Wake (not personally, of course) he would not go out there if he didn't feel that he was up for it. After all, he is not being pressed by circumstance into starting. Beckett could go. So, you have to think that he is ready.
The next question...What about Byrd? He is a pitch to contact guy who gives up a lot of HRs. He also wins a lot of games (averaging just over 6 innings per start) But with a 4.59 ERA and only 88 Ks on the year, you must believe that he got a lot of run support. September was rough for him...He sported a 5.21 ERA giving up 48 hits (6 HRs) over just 38 innings while going 2-3. He was effective against the Yankees in the ALDS.
So, while I am confident the Sox win Game 3 (tonight), the pitching matchups lead to too many questions to have any confidence about Game 4. Can a healthy Wake run with Byrd? Absolutely. Byrd will have to be on his game...Wake will just have to have movement on the knuckler.
The difference maker for Byrd is probably tonight. If the Sox unload on Westbrook, Byrd will be under tremendous pressure to stop the bleeding in Game 4. This bodes well for the Sox.
My feeling is that the Sox need these next two games if they want to survive this series. Partly because Sabathia will be better next time out, as will Carmona. If Beckett's outing is negated by a good Sabathia outing, that puts the series squarely on to Schilling and Daisuke. Of course, both of those starts will be at Fenway...But I wouldn't want to HAVE to win both of those...