10/14/2004 5:03 PM ET
Notes: Home is where the hope is
Sox look to turn series around with three at Fenway
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
|Johnny Damon hopes to find his hitting stroke when he returns to Fenway for Game 3. (Charles Krupa/AP)
BOSTON -- They've relied on Fenway Park all year long. But never will they count on the fabled, 92-year-old yard more than the next couple of days.
If the Red Sox can't find a way to at least take two out of three against the Yankees this weekend, this will be their last homestand of the season.
"We're home," said Sox left-hander Alan Embree. "I think that's the comforting thing."
The Red Sox went 55-26 at Fenway Park this season.
"We've been a much better team at home," said Francona. "I think the last six weeks of the year we got to be good at both places, but we've been very good at home."
It isn't just the hitting dimensions, which are obviously friendly. But the Sox seem to feed off their passionate fans.
"We know we have to win [Game 3]," said Sox first baseman Kevin Millar. "We know we have to swing the bats. We know we have to score off their starting pitching. This is where we play well. This is Sox Nation. You're going to come out here and see an electric atmosphere if the weather holds up."
As the Red Sox departed the clubhouse for their Thursday afternoon workout, there was a message on the chalkboard on the exit door. "We can change history. Believe It."
|The Red Sox have dropped the first two games of a postseason series six times, and have twice rallied to win the series (both in best-of-five Division Series).|
To win this series, the Sox have no choice. The last time a team overturned a 2-0 deficit in a League Championship Series was 1985, when the Royals came back to beat the Blue Jays, and the Cardinals turned the tables on the Dodgers.
The Yankees haven't blown a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series since the 1981 World Series, though they did lose a 2-0 lead against the Mariners in the 1995, best-of-five, American League Division Series.
Even with Curt Schilling possibly out for the remainder of the series, the Red Sox aren't looking for any excuses.
"I think we're capable of winning the series," said Francona. "That's kind of what we showed up to do, and I still feel like we're capable of winning the series, so that's how we go about our business."
If they can complete that business, they'd be back at Fenway Park for the World Series. As much as center fielder Johnny Damon loves his twins (son Jackson and daughter Madelyn), he'd much rather be working on Halloween that manning the doorbell.
"We don't want to be home handing out candy on Halloween," said Damon. "We want to be playing."
If there is a Game 7 of the World Series, it is scheduled for Oct. 31.
Preparing for start: Derek Lowe, who has plenty of experience as a starter and reliever in his career, was getting back into starting mode on Thursday. He will get the ball for Sunday's Game 5 in place of Schilling. That is, unless a rainout on Friday or Saturday pushes Game 5 back to Monday, at which point Pedro Martinez might get the nod.
"I've started the last three years," said Lowe, a 14-game winner this season. "It's not necessarily a spot start. You're going to run, lift weights, you do things differently. I'll throw on the side [on Friday] and look forward to hopefully pitching on Sunday."
Lineup will be steady: After watching his hitters slump over the first two games, Francona has no plans to shake up his lineup.
"No, Damon has hit leadoff since March 2," said Francona. "We may flip-flop a guy or two, but nothing drastic."
While Damon's struggles (0-for-8) have been the most chronicled, Mark Bellhorn (1-for-8), Bill Mueller (1-for-7) and Millar (1-for-8) have also had a hard time getting their bats going.
"Regardless of what happened last night or the night before, if we get after the next day's pitcher, things change so drastically," said Francona. "From our point of view, it needs to."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.