10/19/07 5:40 PM ET
Notes: Farrell supports Matsuzaka
Coach confident righty would perform well in Game 7
By Alex McPhillips / MLB.com
Only a handful of photographers snapped shots in front of the Red Sox's home dugout. A few dozen Fenway tourists watched from the left-field Monster seats. An expansive, muddy tarp covered the entire infield.
Friday's off-day workout didn't provide Matsuzaka with the same kind of atmosphere that a prospective Game 7 -- the first at Fenway since the 1986 American League Championship Series -- will. Nothing prepares a player for that kind of environment. The best any player can manage, when readying for his 35th start of a long season, is the repetition of the regimen that got him there.
On Friday, the Red Sox reiterated that Matsuzaka will get the ball for a prospective Game 7 start.
"Well, he's a guy that has posted for us from start to finish, in terms of being a member of the rotation," Farrell said. "We will go in knowing that, basically, with an attitude that all hands are on deck. But he will certainly get the nod Sunday. And we go in Sunday, provided we get there ... confident that he's going to provide us quality innings to get us hopefully into the sixth, seventh inning."
Matsuzaka has yet to complete a fifth inning in his first postseason with Boston. At home against the Angels in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, and at Cleveland in Game 3 of the ALCS, he was replaced after completing only 4 2/3 innings. Thus far, Matsuzaka owns a postseason ERA of 6.75, with 13 hits and five walks allowed in 9 1/3 innings.
The Red Sox are hoping for an improvement from their rookie hurler. But they aren't considering other rotation options. One problem, Francona said, is that there aren't any.
"I guess when you ask that question, do you have somebody else you'd start?" said manager Terry Francona, when asked if he had any hesitation about starting Matsuzaka in Game 7.
The questioner shrugged.
"That's not a good enough answer," Francona said. "Come on, I understand the question, but you have to have a legitimate reason for asking it. I mean, it's not like we're going to go pull somebody off the Dodgers. This is our team. We set it up the way we set it up, and now we need to go win."
The lineup: Francona was not ready to announce any prospective changes to the Red Sox's offensive attack for Game 6.
"We don't have a lineup yet," Francona said.
Thus, fans will wait to see if the struggles of regular center fielder Coco Crisp, who hit .272 in the second half but is just 5-for-31 in the playoffs (.161), merit a change. Reserve outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has received just one at-bat in the playoffs.
"Yeah, he's really having a tough time," said Francona of Crisp. "Even trying to get the bunt down [in Game 5], you could see him trying to maybe be too fine, do too much. He's gotten himself into some things mechanically where he's not been able to make some adjustments. Any time the ball is moving -- this is with any hitter -- when the ball is moving and the hitter is moving, it's tough to make adjustments.
"I think he understands what [hitting coach Dave Magadan] is telling him. I think sometimes taking it to the game gets a little tougher than people realize."
Pedroia's resurgence: Francona's patience with Dustin Pedroia in the leadoff spot paid dividends on Thursday night.
Pedroia went 2-for-4 in the Red Sox's 7-1 victory in Game 5, even as another pair of his infield rockets were converted into outs. Cleveland couldn't touch his seventh-inning double in the right-center field gap, which started a two-run rally that gave Boston a 4-1 lead.
"It was good," Pedroia said of the team's offensive performance. "We finally put them away there in the seventh inning. We scored a couple of runs, and in the eighth we scored some. You know, we didn't do that; they did that to us the last three games. So that was huge for us and we've got to continue doing that."
More Beckett aftermath: Among the many Red Sox who sang Josh Beckett's praises, one day after the postseason hero crafted another gem, was the team's playoff-hero emeritus, Curt Schilling.
Schilling, speaking to the assembled media by conference call on Friday, was asked if he felt nostalgic about Beckett's feats.
"Well, if nostalgic means jealous, yeah," Schilling said.
After his Game 2 no-decision, Schilling's postseason record remained 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 121 innings. With his Game 5 win, Beckett improved to 5-2 with a 1.78 ERA in 65 2/3 innings.
"Watching him do what he did, I'm telling you," Schilling said, "I'm watching the game and I'm looking at him, and I knew in the second inning that ... there was just no possible way they were going to score another run."
"There were so many little things last night that happened that showed me how locked in he was," Schilling added, "watching the way he was pacing himself to the way he was breathing to his demeanor during the [Kenny] Lofton thing, and all the things that he did continually reinforces to me that he was absolutely, perfectly locked in and nothing was going to get him away from that. I can remember that, and I can remember that power that that was, and it was literally, I'm out here, you're at the plate, I'm going to throw this pitch and there's really nothing you can do about it. I feel bad for you, but maybe you'll get them next game."
Lofton update: Francona said Beckett's Game 5 shouting match with Lofton was relatively minor as brushups are concerned.
"I don't know if you went back and looked at the video, if you saw my gait out to the field," Francona said. "There wasn't a whole heck of a lot of urgency. Nobody was going to fight."
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.