10/03/2003 5:30 PM ET
Notes: Bats key to series, season
Jackson, Kapler to start Game 3 vs. Lilly
BOSTON -- They have full respect for the fact that pitching has traditionally been the key ingredient to success this time of year. However, the Red Sox also realize that the main reason they are in the postseason is that they have hit the cover off the ball all season long.
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
It's just that the Boston bashers haven't made their presence felt yet in this Division Series against the A's, which is high on the list of reasons for why the Sox trail the series, 2-0, and are on the brink of elimination entering Saturday's Game 3.
Yes, the Sox will likely need a quality outing from Derek Lowe to survive Game 3. But they also need to start hitting themselves out of this hole.
They've gone against co-aces Tim Hudson and Barry Zito the first two games, which has a lot to do with the futility. But the Sox hope they can break out against left-hander Ted Lilly.
"We have some hitters who love hitting in this ballpark and that's brought about a lot of success here this year," Sox manager Grady Little said. "That's probably the main reason we are where we are right now, because of the way we've hit the ball right here in Fenway Park. We've got to continue to hit the ball here, if we want to keep playing."
They need some wallop in the middle from Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Boston's 4-5 hitters are a combined 1-for-17 in the first two games.
"We have some hitters who love hitting in this ballpark and that's
brought about a lot of success here this year."
-- Grady Little
Not exactly what the Sox had in mind for two men who combined for 205 RBIs during the regular season.
"Manny was 1-for-something and Ortiz was 0-for-Oakland," Little said. "But these guys hit some balls the last couple of days that were tailor made for this park at Fenway."
Every Sox regular hit considerably better at home this season than on the road. As a team, the Sox batted .316 at Fenway and .263 on the road. Their slugging percentage at home (.527) was far more impressive than on the road (.456).
Coming back home, the Sox feel good about what they can accomplish, even amid these pressure-packed circumstances.
"For some reason, we just pound the baseball here," Sox first baseman Kevin Millar said.
Jackson gets nod at second: Like he did for most of Lowe's starts in the second half, Damian Jackson will play second base for the Sox in Game 3. Jackson is a significant upgrade over Todd Walker defensively, but the Sox will sacrifice some offense.
Walker went 4-for-5 with two homers in Game 1. However, he also made costly errors in the first two games.
With Walker, who hit third the first two games, not in the lineup, Nomar Garciaparra might return to the slot he hit in most of the season. If not, AL batting champ Bill Mueller will bat third.
Kapler gets another start: With the lefty pitching for Oakland, Gabe Kapler will replace Trot Nixon in right field for the second consecutive game. Nixon is still getting his stroke back after missing a large part of September with a calf injury.
"Trot's calf is fine," Little said. "He won't start tomorrow, but that will give him more time to take some more batting practice and get his swing down."
Clean slate: Back in the friendly confines of Fenway, the Sox seemed determined to get the unsatisfactory Oakland journey out of their system.
"Nothing's ever going to be easy for the Red Sox and we're not in an easy situation," said center fielder Johnny Damon. "But we have confidence. We still have what it takes in the clubhouse and on the field. (The A's) were perfect out there. We didn't play good defense, we didn't hit like we wanted to. But we're back home and, with the energy the fans will give us, that's going to make all the difference."
Though the Sox have overcome adversity all season, this is their most daunting test yet.
"We never faced elimination," said right-hander John Burkett. "This is different in that sense. Any game we lose now, the season is over, until we get through this series."
Good opening act: The Sox announced that "Barenaked Ladies" will perform the National Anthem prior to Game 3. The band is in town for a performance at the FleetCenter. Should the Sox get to Game 4, "Boston" will perform the Game 4 anthem.
Game 3 is at 7:30 p.m. ET and Game 4 would be at 1 p.m. ET
Prudential will lend support: The Prudential Center, which can be seen beyond the right-field landscape at Fenway Park, will illuminate the message "GO SOX" throughout Game 3.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.