Red Sox Set Playoff Rotation: Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling


Monday, October 1st 2007, 2:22 pm
By: News On 6


BOSTON (AP) _ Daisuke Matsuzaka will follow Josh Beckett in Boston's postseason rotation against the Angels, leaving Curt Schilling for Game 3 when the series shifts to Anaheim.

The Red Sox decided to have Schilling pitch on Sunday instead of Friday to give him two extra days of rest. If Boston's first-round series goes the full five games, Schilling would be in line to pitch the opener of the AL championship series against the New York Yankees or Cleveland.

``We're trying to gear up for 2 1/2 or 3 weeks of starts,'' manager Terry Francona said Monday.

Schilling last pitched Sept. 25, when he allowed one run in six innings of a 7-3 victory over Oakland. Francona isn't worried that Schilling will be rusty.

``I really don't have any qualms about it or I wouldn't have done it,'' Francona said.

With an off day between Games 1 and 2, another between Games 2 and 3, and a third between Games 4 and 5, Boston can use a three-man rotation in the first round. That means knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (17-12) will begin the series in the bullpen.

``He understands,'' Francona said.

Beckett (20-7), who leads the major league in wins, was a no-brainer to start the opener and will be opposed by John Lackey (19-9).

Kelvim Escobar (18-7) is slated to pitch Game 2 for the Angels and be followed by Jared Weaver (13-7).

Matsuzaka (15-12) tired down the stretch. He went 1-4 with a 7.09 ERA in eight starts after Aug. 4 before beating Minnesota in Friday's AL clincher, when he struck out eight in eight innings and allowed two runs and six hits.

He went 8-4 with a 4.86 ERA at home and 7-8 with a 4.02 ERA on the road. Matsuzaka never faced the Angels in his rookie season, while Schilling went 2-1 against them.

``The unfamiliarity, I think, definitely favors the pitcher the first time around,'' Francona said.