Chess Match: Sweeping success
Red Sox take care of Angels in three games, earn long rest
ANAHEIM -- The biggest move of Game 3 -- the only one that ultimately mattered -- was the Red Sox nudging the Angels into the offseason. But there were other subtle aspects before, during, and even following Boston's 9-1 Division Series-clinching triumph.
On-hold Schilling hangs up on Angels
The situation: In setting up his Division Series rotation, Boston manager Terry Francona has his choice of well-rested starters, and can base his decision on a variety of factors.
The outcome: A creature of routine also given to overthinking perceived slights, Schilling works himself into a lather for this start, and channels the built-up energy into seven brilliant innings, blanking the Angels on six hits. Added to the work of Josh Beckett and Dice-K, Boston's rotation winds up allowing three runs in 20 2/3 innings.
The analysis: "Schilling was outstanding. From the beginning, his command of the fastball was there ... both sides of the plate, up and down. Changing speeds ... Ten years ago, I would have had some concerns [about pitching him on such long rest], but now he is a different pitcher. I think he's gotten to a point where he's comfortable." -- Francona
Where there's a Willits, there's a way out
The situation: The Angels threaten to break through in a scoreless game, a pair of singles placing runners at the corners with two outs in the third inning, bringing Vladimir Guerrero to bat in a clutch situation.
The outcome: On a 1-2 breaking pitch, Willits fouled out meekly to catcher Jason Varitek, ending the Angels' first and last threat against Schilling.
The analysis: "That was one of the two times I felt the game was on the line. I don't know if I've ever gone the intentional-unintentional walk route to that extent in my career. I just didn't feel comfortable with the matchup. Knowing Garret wasn't the next hitter, I decided to take a different approach." -- Schilling
Take a day off ... or five
The situation: As the team with the best record in the American League, the Red Sox have their choice of Division Series formats.
The outcome: By making quick work of the Angels, the Red Sox invited for themselves the mixed blessing of a sporadic schedule. When the AL Championship Series opens on Friday, they will have played three games in 12 days. Off-days can help heal their injured, of which the Red Sox have none, but can also dull their edge, which is sharp.
The analysis: "We knew what were getting into in advance. That doesn't mean we would have preferred this series to go five games just so we would have less days off. I think anyone would rather not have five days off, but we'll just go with it. If you're going to let down because you've got too many days off, you've got a problem." -- Mike Lowell
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.