Wakefield Goes For Red Sox

Tuesday, October 16th 2007, 10:41 am

By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield makes his first start of the 2007 postseason Tuesday night with Boston trailing the Indians two-games-to-one in the best-of-seven American League championship series. Cleveland is coming off a 4-2 victory in last night's Game 3.

Wakefield hasn't pitched since Sept. 29. He went 17-12 during the regular season but was left off the division series' roster to rest his sore back.

Paul Byrd gets the nod for the Tribe. He was 15-8 in the regular season and won the decisive fourth game of Cleveland's division-series victory over the New York Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Rockies, who won the National League pennant last night with a four-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, have eight days off until the World Series starts on Oct. 24.

After ending the regular season on a 13-1 tear, the Rocckies beat San Diego in a wild-card tie-breaker game, swept the Phillies in the best-of-five division series and then did the same to the Diamondbacks in the best-of-seven NLCS. They finished that one off last night with a 6-4 victory over the D-backs and enter the Fall Classic riding a ten-game winning streak.

Last night, Jake Westbrook, an often overlooked third wheel in the rotation, kept Boston grounded for nearly seven innings, leading the Indians to a 4-2 win over the Red Sox and a 2-1 lead in the AL championship series.

The laid-back right-hander, who missed a big chunk of the season with an injury, doesn't possess the overpowering stuff of either C.C. Sabathia or Fausto Carmona _ Cleveland's two aces who flopped badly in Games 1 and 2 at Fenway Park _ or their stellar reputations.

But Westbrook does have a devastating sinkerball, and oh my, how it sunk the Red Sox.

Game 4 on Tuesday night will feature two soft tossers: Cleveland's Paul Byrd, with his old-school windup, and Boston's Tim Wakefield, the 41-year-old knuckleballing master.

Boston grounded into three double plays, two of them by October's scariest twosome _ David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. They combined for something more unusual _ Ramirez's grounder nailed Big Papi in the leg on the basepaths for an out that helped Westbrook.

In all, Westbrook got 14 of 19 outs on balls the Red Sox pounded weakly into the manicured grass and infield dirt at Jacobs Field, which hosted its first ALCS game since 1998. Back then, Westbrook was in Montreal's minor league system perfecting a pitch that drops, dips and darts as it approaches home plate.

The Red Sox couldn't do anything with it.

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