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Who's next? Sox savor the moment
10/09/2004 1:49 AM ET
BOSTON -- The Boston press, believing in the Red Sox's destiny, started clamoring for the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series even before Ye Old Towne Team was in it.

"Go Yanks!" cried the front page of Friday's Boston Herald, with a subhead of "We want to beat your butts on the way to the World Series."

"Bring on the Yankees!" demanded the Boston Globe.

The theme: Victory will not be as sweet without the Yankees as the victims.

After their participation had been confirmed, after they had ousted the once-again tenacious Anaheim Angels, the Red Sox just winced and shrugged. Not necessarily in that order.

"It doesn't matter who we play. We just want to win the World Series," said general manager Theo Epstein.

There was a lot of that, and sprayed champagne, around the Boston clubhouse.

"It's nice to get this one over with," Kevin Millar said. "Twins, Yankees -- it doesn't matter. We feel whichever shows up, we'll match up well with them."

Off regular-season records, the Red Sox may actually match up better with New York. Boston took the season series from the Yankees (for the first time since 1999), 11-8, while dropping four of the six games with Minnesota.

In either case, the Red Sox, as the AL Wild Card team, would not enjoy the home-field advantage.

Asked point-blank to ignore diplomacy and reveal how much he wanted the Yankees, Johnny Damon backed away from that one.

"It doesn't matter," he said. "Regardless, we'll be the best team in that series. Whoever it turns out to be doesn't matter to us."

They will also be the better-rested team. For that reason, while they may not outwardly have a preference for which team survives, all of the Red Sox will be Twins fans today.

A Minnesota victory in Game 4 would give Boston two more days of rest than their opponent on Tuesday in the ALCS opener.

"That's big," Millar said. "It gives us a chance to set up our rotation. It'll be (Curt) Schilling and (Pedro) Martinez all over again."

Derek Lowe will remain in Boston's bullpen, for good-luck charm purposes, if nothing else.

The right-hander has made two relief appearances the last two years. He was on the mound for the final out of last October's ALDS triumph over Oakland, then was again the last Boston pitcher standing Friday night, working the 10th to earn credit for the 8-6 clincher over Anaheim.

"There's no rhyme of reason to that. Just dumb luck," Lowe said.

"I'm just glad we won, and hope the city gets to enjoy it for a while. Then we'll look forward to the next series."

Lowe came closest of any Red Sox player to echoing the sentiments expressed in the Boston dailies.

"Politically, you can't say the right thing. You can't come out and say, 'New York.' It can't matter to us who we play," Lowe said.

Bronson Arroyo, who stood tall for six-plus innings in his first postseason opportunity, said, "We want to get to the World Series. Whichever way we have to."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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