On ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike In The Morning show this morning, the "Mikes" spent a little time talking about how the Red Sox chose to play their 5 game series over an 8 day period as opposed to playing it over 7 days (if you are unaware, this year the team with the best record in both the NL and AL got to choo-choo-choose whether they wanted to play the series in 7 days or 8 days). The Mikes concluded that it was stupid of the Red Sox to choose the longer series because this won't allow the the Indians to pitch Sabathia and Carmona 4 times in the series against the Yankees. They couldn't believe the Sox would give the Yankees that advantage in the series. But before I even get into the idea that the short series is still an advantage for the Indians because if Sabathia and Carmona are such an advantage and they are going 2-0 in the first two games then the Indians only have to win 1 of the next 3 games and that last game would be Sabathia again at home or that the fact that Mussina has to pitch is a HUGE advantage for the Indians, the real reason the Red Sox chose the longer series IS BECAUSE IT BENEFITS THE RED SOX! THE RED SOX DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THEY YANKS-INDIANS SERIES.
Here's why the longer series is good for the Sox:
1. More rest for the bullpen
The Sox bullpen was the best in the league until the last month when they started to break down. So they sat some guys for awhile and Okajima, Timlin and Delcarmen came back in the last couple outings and pitched great. And with the 8 day schedule, they'd only have to play two games back-to-back. They will likely have every pitcher available every day. If they started back-to-back days and then had another set of back-to-back, they might be forced to save a guy or two from pitching two back-to-backs in a row.
2. Ortiz gets rest
Papi's knee is a mess. Anytime he is on the basepath it's pretty clear he is agony. He's been on fire of late but he's gonna need the days off in order to be anywhere near 100%. The long series gives him a ton of rest.
3. The long series means they get their top 2 guys on close to normal rest
Beckett and Dice-K will likely pitch on 4 days rest if the series goes 5. Wakefield is hurt so they don't really have a 4th starter. That injury may have influenced the decision more than any other factor.
4. With Manny and Coco dinged up, a deeper bench is huge
They are in much better position bringing only 3 official starters and 7 relievers with a deep bench against a team like the Angels as opposed to leaving a guy like Hinske or Ellsbury at home in favor of Kyle Snyder, especially when both Coco and Manny are dinged up. If they played a shorter series and had to bring 4 starters, they'd probably start Lester and bring along Kyle Snyder or Tavarez as a long man (a position now served by Lester) and they'd be leaving one of the outfield bench guys at home. That's just too dangerous with the outfield injuries.
(There are a couple others including the fact that the Sox are not frightened of Lackey or anyone out of the bullpen other than Frankie so giving them more time to rest doesn't really concern them, but those 4 above are the big guys.)
That's why the Sox chose the long series. The Sox are unconcerned with what the Yankees do. They make decisions about how they are going to play another team based on themselves and the other team. Would it be great to simultaneously screw the most talented team in the playoffs while at the same time benefitting yourself? Sure. But they won't worry about how to get the upperhand on them until they actually have to face them. They buried the "We're always worried about the Yankees" bullshit back in 2004 when they went out and beat the Yankees.