Game 1: Curt Schilling vs. Jarrod Washburn
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Five outs -- five measly outs. That's how close the Boston Red Sox came to going to the World Series last year and perhaps ending an 85-year championship drought.
Schilling is one of several new faces on the Red Sox. Another is manager Terry Francona, who replaced the fired Grady Little.
Many believe Little left then-staff ace Martinez in too long in Game 7 of the AL championship series last October, when the Yankees rallied from three runs down in the eighth to tie the game at 5 and force extra innings.
"When all this happened last winter, the reasons behind it were for what happens tomorrow," Schilling said Monday, referring to his offseason trade from Arizona to Boston. "Anything short of the World Series this year means we've fallen short of where we should go."
The Red Sox are again attempting to win the World Series for the first time since 1918. It appeared they were headed for also-ran status again this year until changing their face at the trade deadline.
Out went shortstop Nomar Garciaparra; in came shortstop Orlando Cabrera along with reserves Dave Roberts and Doug Mientkiewicz. The Red Sox won 42 of their final 60 games to reach 98 victories -- third-highest total in the majors. They wrapped up the AL wild card a few weeks ago.
"We spun our wheels a little more than we wanted to for a while," Francona said. "We tried to stay patient. We were a drastically different team after the All-Star break."
The Angels, meanwhile, won seven of eight over Oakland and Texas to win the AL West championship on the next-to-last day of the season.
Vladimir Guerrero, who signed a five-year, $70 million contract last winter, went 14-of-30 with six homers and 11 RBI in the last six games of the season, giving him a .337 batting average, 39 homers and 126 RBI overall.
Guerrero, who previously played for the woeful Montreal Expos, is in the postseason for the first time.
"Cool -- I like it," he said with a smile. "I'm on a good team now."
He's certainly a key reason.
"Amazing -- he's everything everybody talked about, and more," Angels shortstop David Eckstein said.
"What Vladimir did at the end of the season is incredible," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's no doubt in my mind he's the MVP of this league."
Schilling called Guerrero "a Barry Bonds with less patience."
The Angels won their first World Series title two years ago in just their fourth postseason appearance since being formed as an expansion team in 1961.
They won as a wild card -- just as Boston is now.
The last time the Angels won the AL West, in 1986, they played the Red Sox in the ALCS in one of baseball's most memorable playoff series.
The Angels won three of the first four games and led 5-2 entering the ninth in Game 5, but the Red Sox rallied and eventually won 7-6 in 11 innings. Boston then returned home and won 10-4 and 8-1 to advance to the World Series, where they lost to the Mets in seven games.
Scioscia said he didn't know if his roster is as deep as it was two years ago.
"But I think our pitching is better," he said. "We're not going to win this series unless we pitch."
There's little question about that -- the Red Sox led the majors with 949 runs and 2,694 total bases.
The Angels' roster isn't as deep for a reason. Second baseman Adam Kennedy and designated hitter Tim Salmon are sidelined with injuries, and outfielder Jose Guillen, who had 27 homers and 104 RBI, is not on the playoff roster after being suspended for insubordination.
"I started the first game in '02," Washburn said. "Hopefully me starting the first game is a good sign for us."
Washburn said what happened two years ago means nothing now.
"In '02, we didn't have any experience and we won," he said. "This is 2004. Nothing we did then gives us any points now."
Martinez has been awful in his last four starts -- all losses -- allowing 30 hits and 21 runs in 23 1-3 innings.
"I can't tell you how excited I'll be to hand him the ball Wednesday night," Francona said. "I think you'll see him at his best."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press