In LCS, tie goes to the winner

Since the two leagues went to a championship series format in 1969, we've never had a scenario quite like the one we have in the 2007 version of these matchups. This is the first time in which both the National League teams going head-to-head won the same number of games (90), and both of the American League teams going head-to-head won the same number of games in the regular season (96).

ESPN, 12 a.m. ET
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Buster Olney, Fernando Vina, Peter Gammons
What does this mean? It tells us that things are pretty even heading into each series. The Red Sox and Diamondbacks may each have homefield advantage, but that can be easily neutralized by all of the unknowns that factor into head-to-head competition. How well will youngsters like Chris Young and Ubaldo Jimenez perform under pressure? Will the Diamondbacks' magic in one-run games continue, or will it be outweighed by Colorado's late-season miracle finish? Will power in the form of Josh Beckett, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez win out, or will the diversified talents of Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta be bigger factors?

These are the questions we ponder as we prepare for baseball on its biggest stage, to this point, in 2007.

RF Brad Hawpe
Had 18 RBIs vs. Diamondbacks in 2007, most of any player in MLB

1B Todd Helton
Batting average in Chase Field in odd-numbered years, since 2003 -- 2007: .469; 2005: .500; 2003: .520

CL Manny Corpas
In 10 innings pitched vs. Arizona in 2007, allowed no runs and two hits.
RHP Brandon Webb
Was 1-3, 5.77 ERA vs. Rockies in 2007; the win was the only Rockies loss in their last 18 games

SS Stephen Drew
Hitting .459 with three HRs and nine RBIs in his last eight games

1B Tony Clark
Hit .363 with four HRs and 12 RBIs in six games vs. Rockies at Chase Field
LF Kenny Lofton
Hitting .306 with five steals in 10 games vs. Red Sox in 2007

P C.C. Sabathia/Fausto Carmona
Combined 1-1 vs. Red Sox in 2007, allowing one earned run in 15 innings

RHP Rafael Betancourt
Held Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Jason Varitek to 1-for-14 combined with eight strikeouts. In fact, omit Julio Lugo (3-for-4) and the rest of the current Red Sox lineup is 1-for-32 with 12 K's against him.
Red Sox
LF Manny Ramirez
Career vs. Indians: .357 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs in 49 games

C Jason Varitek
Has hit four HRs with 10 RBIs in 13 LCS games dating back to 2003

RHP Josh Beckett
Was 1-1, 1.80 ERA and .143 Opp. BA in two starts vs. Indians in 2007

1999: Red Sox in a runaway
The Red Sox set a major league record for runs in a postseason game, evening up their ALDS with the Indians at two games apiece, with a 23-7 victory. The Indians should be happy that their postseason doesn't begin today. They've lost the last four postseason games that they played on Oct. 10.

1920: Game of firsts
Game 5 of the 1920 World Series featured two of the most unusual plays in postseason history. Indians right fielder Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam in World Series history, and Indians second baseman Bill Wambsganss turned the only unassisted triple play in World Series history against Brooklyn.

John Kruk, Fernando Vina and Buster Olney make their choices for the key players in the AL Championship Series.
Peter Gammons joins host Peter Pascarelli to discuss the Yankees' managerial situation. Plus, they preview the NLCS and the ALCS. Listen
Red Sox manager Terry Francona says he plans to pitch Curt Schilling instead of Daisuke Matsuzaka in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Flu-ridden Hurdle keeping his distance
• Rockies manager Clint Hurdle retreated to his home before Monday's practice when he came down with a case of the chills. He said he wasn't feeling much better during Tuesday's workout at Coors Field. Because of a sore throat and other symptoms, Hurdle canceled his usual chat with reporters. He wanted to avoid having media members taking the flu bug back into the clubhouse and spreading it around. Hurdle spent the first part of the workout behind the batting cage talking with his coaches. He then walked around the outfield, chatting with various players but keeping several feet of distance away from them. Colorado plans to practice Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Diamondbacks set their NLCS rotation
• Arizona manager Bob Melvin will stick with the same rotation in the NL Championship Series that he used -- or planned to use -- in the Diamondbacks' division series against the Chicago Cubs. After ace Brandon Webb goes in Game 1 against Colorado on Thursday night, Arizona will start lefty Doug Davis in Game 2 Friday. Right-hander Livan Hernandez will be the Game 3 starter on Sunday night, followed by rookie right-hander Micah Owings in Game 4 on Monday. Owings did not pitch in the division series because Arizona swept in three games. He pitched in an instructional league game in Tucson on Tuesday. Melvin said he is not inclined to use Webb on three days' rest for Game 4. That would give his best pitcher an extra day off before Game 5 on Oct. 17 in Denver.
"Obviously, nobody wants to be sick right now. ... I'm going to steer clear [of Hurdle]. That's usually my plan anyway."
-- Rockies slugger Matt Holliday, jokingly about manager Clint Hurdle, who's battling the flu.


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