10/07/2003 3:11 AM ET
Storied rivalry opens a new chapter
Wakefield likely to get nod vs. Mussina in Game 1
OAKLAND -- Derek Lowe worked in three games in a six-day span. Pedro Martinez threw 230 pitches in two games. Johnny Damon was knocked unconscious in the clincher.
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
The weary delirium of winning a third consecutive elimination game against the Oakland A's will have to wear off in a hurry for the Boston Red Sox, who had to fly back across the country after winning Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Monday night for a dream date with the New York Yankees.
The AL Championship Series starts Wednesday.
"I'm just happy to go back home," said Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, who went to high school in the shadows of Yankee Stadium. "It's going to be fun."
And difficult. Very difficult. While the Bronx Bombers were recuperating from a Sunday celebration after knocking off the Minnesota Twins in four games and setting up their
starting rotation for the ALCS, the Red Sox were using their top two starters to close out the A's.
Martinez started Monday and Lowe closed, so in all likelihood it will be knuckleballer Tim Wakefield getting the ball in Game 1 against Mike Mussina. Boston manager Grady Little didn't tip his hand as to how the rest of his rotation will shape up, but Lowe in Game 2 on Thursday and Martinez in Saturday's Game 3 at Fenway Park seems the most probable scenario.
As for Damon, who was knocked out of Game 5 when he and second baseman Damian Jackson banged heads on a seventh-inning popup, it's unclear when he might return. He suffered a concussion on the play and was expected to spend the night in a Bay Area hospital for observation.
If Boston's leadoff hitter and center fielder is unable to go in Game 1, Gabe Kapler or Jackson might get the call.
There was much for Little to ponder as the Red Sox started to look forward to the next round, but there was much to feel good about, too. Ramirez broke out of a series-long slump with what turned out to be a game-winning homer Monday, the Boston bullpen is finding its feet and there will be at least a couple more games in Beantown.
"We welcome the opportunity, of course, and we look forward to it," Little said. "I think it will be exciting."
Mychael Urban is a national writer
for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its