First, tonight’s Metro GameDay column: a game of millimeters.

Now, the keys to tonight’s game:


For the Red Sox

  1. Daisuke Matsuzaka must go big or the Red Sox will go home. He can’t afford to make mistakes—he must locate his fastball, and his breaking stuff must break. It won’t matter if he can’t get out of the 5th inning again (the Red Sox bullpen now includes starters Lester, Wakefield, and Beckett, as well as a rested Papelbon, Timlin, and Okajima) as long as he can keep the Indians from having a big inning.
  2. The Sox offense needs to solve Jake Westbrook. They’ve been on a tear since the late innings of Game 5 in Cleveland, and with the Sox back in the friendly confines of Fenway Park, that momentum has only gathered steam. But they can’t wait until Westbrook leaves the game to score—Rafael Betancourt has just been too good.
  3. Terry Francona needs to choose his relievers carefully. Eric Gagne will no doubt stay on the bench after working last night (and after being so dreadful in Game 2). Nonetheless, Manny Delcarmen has been knocked around by the Indians both times he’s appeared in this series, and I would be very surprised (and, let’s be honest, completely infuriated) if Tito tapped him again.

For the Indians

  1. Westbrook’s sinker needs to sink as well as it did during Game 3. He needs to keep the Red Sox offense off-balance—and keep them hitting into those double plays. This is no less important for being glaringly obvious.
  2. The Indians offense must be patient with Daisuke. Even with his high strikeout rate, he has walked about one batter for every two strikeouts. Plus, opponents’ OBP on full counts is almost .500—in other words, if the Indians can work the count full, they have about a 50-50 chance of reaching base.
  3. The Indians need to score first. The Red Sox showed at the Jake on Thursday what can happen to a great home crowd when the enemy team strikes first. If the Indians can do the same thing at Fenway, they might be able to take the crowd out of the equation.

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