Stealing Signals: Saving Torre’s Job.

Yankees 8, Indians 3 – The Boss makes a statement, and I suppose the Yankees responded by pounding Jake Westbrook after Roger Clemens gave the Indians a three-run lead in two innings. Johnny Damon went deep off Westbrook for a 3-run shot, and the rout was on. So, the Bronx Bombers get a reprieve, and avoid the broom thanks to the pitching of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Whether it will make a difference in the entire series has yet to be seen. I don’t think this Yankee starting rotation can hang in there. Maybe they can get to Paul Byrd in Game 4, but going against Sabathia again in a Game 5 would wreck them. Even if they make it past the Indians somehow, Joe Torre would still lose his job.

Red Sox 9, Angels 1 – And that’s because the Red Sox are just that good in the playoffs right now. The only runs that turned out to be necessary were back to back jacks by David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in the fourth inning, as Curt Schilling threw seven shutout innings, and the only run given up was one by Eric Gagne in the ninth. The Angels had no shot at winning this series at all, with injuries to Gary Matthews, Jr. and Garret Anderson, along with Vladimir Guerrero already hobbled by a bad throwing arm.

Photo: AP/Kathy Willens

Totally Ill-Advised Playoff Predictions For The Division Series.

Let’s get down to brass tacks.

Angels vs. Red Sox — On the mound, the Halos will send John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, and Jered Weaver against Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Curt Schilling. The first matchup is a wash. Escobar’s a bit more consistent than Dice-K, and Schilling gets the nod over Weaver in terms of quality. Offensively, we all know about Boston’s line-up, but it’s the Angels that have problems, as Gary Matthews Jr. is off the roster for this round with a bad left knee. That leaves only Vlad Guerrero and Garret Anderson with any kind of pop in the bat. Red Sox in four.

Rockies vs. Phillies — Both teams will send four man rotations: Francis, Redman Morales, Fogg, and Jimenez will go for the Rox against the Phillies’ Hamels, Kendrick, Moyer, and Lohse. I’m going to give the Rockies the games not pitched by Hamels or Moyer in terms of advantage. Offensively, the Phillies can out-slug the Rockies, despite how hot the team is right now. Home-field makes a difference here. Phillies in five.

Cubs vs. Diamondbacks — Three starters for the Cubs (Zambrano, Lilly, and Hill) against four for the DBs (Webb, Davis, Livan Hernandez, and Owings). It all depends on which Zambrano we see here. As for offensive production, I give this to the Cubs, who have a more seasoned team playing against one consisting mostly of young’uns with very little experience. Cubs in four.

Yankees vs. Indians — Yes, I’m aware the Indians haven’t beaten the Yankees this season. Trouble is, I don’t know how the Yankee starters will hold up in a short series. They’re running Wang, Pettitte, Clemens, and Mussina out against Sabathia, Carmona, Westbrook, and Byrd. If the Indians have an advantage in starting pitching, the Yanks own the bullpen. Even Mariano Rivera in his declining skill is more trustworthy than Joe Borowski’s 5.00+ ERA as a closer. The Yankees’ bats will crank up for at least two or three of these contests, so New York in five.

Photo: AP/Charles Krupa