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Arroyo stays cool despite pressure
10/14/2004 1:51 AM ET
NEW YORK -- Close your eyes and imagine that the fate of one of the most fabled franchises in sports rests squarely in your hands for nine innings.

Imagine that Curt Schilling, the team's no. 1 starter and big free agent signing, has an ailing right ankle and might not pitch again this series because of it, and Pedro Martinez, the team's no. 2 ace, just came up short in the second game of the American League Championship Series to put your team in an 0-2 hole.

Now open your eyes and look in the mirror to face the nation -- that's what Boston starter Bronson Arroyo will be aiming to do when he takes the mound against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS on Friday at Fenway Park.

Feel any extra pressure? The Red Sox say no.

"As far as Bronson, Bronson will be fine, wherever he pitches," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He's a good pitcher. He has earned the right to pitch in these circumstances."

He sure has.

After four consecutive seasons up and down from Triple-A, Arroyo went 10-9 with a 4.03 ERA during the regular season in 178 2/3 innings in his first full big league season.

For his career, he is just 19-23 with a 4.63 ERA and 3-5 with a 4.90 ERA in 90 regular season innings at Fenway.

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But the Red Sox are in dire need of his 20th career win following Wednesday's 3-1 loss -- a game in which the club managed only five hits and was shutout for seven innings by Yankees starter Jon Lieber. This on the heels of a Game 1 in which Mike Mussina stymied the Red Sox offense.

"I don't think we've swung the bat very effectively, that's for sure, especially against the two starters," Francona said. "We've had no baserunners through the first six innings of either game. I don't think that's being uptight; it's not being very effective. But it's not due to being nervous, we just certainly have not been very successful."

For the Red Sox to claw their way back into the series, Arroyo is going to have to be both effective and successful. He does have a history against New York. In four games against the Yankees in 2004, he went 0-0 with a 5.35 ERA in 24 innings.

He also went 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 3 1/3 innings of relief against the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS and 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 career innings at Yankee Stadium.

Any questions concerning Arroyo's ability to pitch in a big game were answered in the American League Division Series last week. The right-hander allowed three hits and two runs in six innings in Game 3 of the ALDS against Anaheim in his last start.

Extra pressure? Arroyo's likely not feeling it. And neither is his manager.

"He'll be fine," Francona said.

As far as the Red Sox Nation is concerned, he'd better be.

"We'll regroup (Thursday) and go home for three and see if we can get back in this," Francona said. "We really have no other choice but to look forward to the next game. That's what's in our control now. We've been handling it that way the whole year so we'll begin to do that."

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

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