Beantown beatdown

KEN FIDLIN

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

BOSTON -- The American League Cy Young votes have been in for nearly two weeks, squirrelled away in a hermetically-sealed pickle jar somewhere in New Jersey.

By most accounts the award for best pitcher in the AL boiled down to two men, Boston's Josh Beckett and Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia, who happened to be facing each other last night in the opening game of the AL championship series.

In the aftermath of last night's 10-3 Boston victory, we're wondering how many of the writer/voters who watched the carnage at Fenway Park would like a mulligan. Yes, of course, the Cy Young Award is based upon the regular season but it's absolutely clear that Beckett is taking his game to another level in October. Come to think of it, so is Sabathia, but not in a good way.

For the second time in these playoffs, Beckett tossed a gem, hardly working up a sweat. He gave up just four hits to a very good-hitting Indians team, walked no one and left the game after throwing just 80 pitches with an eight-run lead after six innings.

In the opener of the ALDS against Anaheim last week, he threw a four-hit complete-game shutout at the Angels.

And for the second time in these playoffs, Sabathia was not the same pitcher who mowed 'em down in the regular season, winning 19 games with a 3.27 ERA.

The Red Sox shelled him for eight runs on seven hits and five walks over just 41/3 innings. In his only previous post-season start against the Yankees in the ALDS, Sabathia got the win, but he only worked five shaky innings, walking six.

The key for the Boston offence once again was the tandem of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez hitting No. 3 and No. 4. Between them they came to the plate 10 times and reached base 10 times in this game, each scoring twice. Ramirez also drove in three runs, one with a single and two more on bases-loaded walks.

COMBINED .806 OBP

Between them, Ortiz and Ramirez, in four playoff games this season, have reached base 29 times in 36 plate appearances, scoring 12 runs. That's an unheard-of combined on-base percentage of .806. Ortiz, on his own, has failed to reach base only twice in 18 post-season plate appearances and has scored seven runs.

Last night, the 5-6-7 hitters -- Mike Lowell, Bobby Kielty and Jason Varitek -- also delivered in the clutch. Lowell drove in three runs, Kielty and Varitek two each.

The Indians got to Beckett with a Travis Hafner home run in the first inning, but then the righthander went into lockdown mode. He erased the next 10 hitters in order and by that time he had a comfortable lead.

Meanwhile, the Bosox chipped away at Sabathia for a run on three singles -- Ramirez driving in the run -- in the bottom of the inning and only a well-timed double-play ball got Sabathia out of that early jam.

In the bottom of the third, it all came apart for Sabathia as the Sox capitalized on a pair of doubles and three walks to score four times in a bat-around inning. Ramirez worked Sabathia for a bases-loaded walk to deliver the first run, then Lowell delivered two more with a ground-rule double. The fourth run scored on a groundball out by Varitek.

The potential Cy Young Award-winner's line was ugly: 41/3 innings, seven hits, eight runs, five walks, one hit batsman.


Videos

Photos