Daisuke Matsuzaka will be available out of the bullpen for Thursday's Game 1 against the Angels. Dice-K, who spent nearly three months on the disabled list before returning to the Red Sox on Sept. 15, has pitched well in his four outings since then, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.22 ERA.
Boston's Dustin Pedroia played in 154 games this season and had a .296 batting average, 20 stolen bases, 15 home runs, 72 RBIs, and 115 runs. Those numbers are very similar to the combined stats posted by the Angels' Howard Kendrick and Maicer Izturis when they played second base: 159 games, .290 batting average, 18 stolen bases, 14 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 99 runs.
Varitek among leaders
Jason Varitek, who is expected to see limited action in this series, has hit 11 postseason home runs. That's the most in Major League history by a catcher. Johnny Bench and Javier Lopez each hit 10. Varitek is one of only six catchers with at least two triples in his career in the playoffs. Varitek has two, tied with three others including Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Johnny Bench and Tim McCarver both had three.
Watch for Jepsen
Angels reliever Darren Oliver has Kevin Jepsen as his "pick to click" in the series. Said Oliver: "He's got a power arm and everybody needs a power arm, especially in the playoffs. He's a guy who can come in and shut down and offense."
Advantage: Red Sox
The Red Sox are 12-1 against the Angels since Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS, including an 11-game win streak through Game 2 of last year's ALDS, the most consecutive victories in Major League postseason history by a team vs. a single opponent.