BOSTON - Hernando High product Bronson Arroyo has every reason to be nervous.
He's making the first postseason start of his career today. He'll be pitching before a Fenway Park crowd that will be roaring for perfection. And he has the chance to lead the Sox to a series sweep of the Angels and a berth in the AL championship series.
But Arroyo, 27, isn't about to allow anyone see him sweat, insisting he'll treat today's game as any other.
"You know, I don't think my career is depending on this start," he said Thursday. "People look at big games and you get a reputation for games like that. That's why Curt Schilling has the reputation he does, someone who steps up in big games.
"Hopefully tomorrow I will, too. Obviously if I go out there and get bombed and give up seven runs, that will put a little stain on you. But all you can do is go out and do what you do all year."
For Arroyo, that would be good enough. He was 10-9 with a 4.03 ERA in his first season as a full-time starter, and didn't lose after Aug. 15. He struggled in two starts against the Angels, going 0-1 with a 9.72 ERA.
The Red Sox are confident he'll do well.
"He's ready to pitch," manager Terry Francona said. "He deserved this and he's earned it. And not only that, we think he's going to be fine. We think he's going to do real well, or we wouldn't send him out."
PAINFUL MEMORY: Sox centerfielder Johnny Damon is still dealing with repercussions from the concussion he suffered in last year's division series. Damon said he started having migraine headaches again during the trip to Anaheim and would seek relief by getting a chiropractic adjustment to his neck before today's game.
"Hopefully I'll feel much better," he said. "Physically I'm okay, I'm just having that headache thing working again. I can feel it coming up from my neck, so a nice swift pop should help."
ROTATION RUMINATIONS: The Yankees had invested $45-million in Javier Vazquez before he threw a pitch for them, and manager Joe Torre says he believes in him. "He's going to be a No. 1 guy down the road here," Torre said. But experience counts most to Torre, and when he chose a starter for Game 3 of the Yankees' division series with the Minnesota Twins, he bypassed Vazquez in favor of Kevin Brown, the 39-year-old right-hander who has pitched in two World Series. Vazquez could still start a fourth game, but Orlando Hernandez seems to be the first choice.
MISCELLANY: Red Sox relievers have worked 41/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit. ... If there is a Game 4 on Saturday, it will be played at 1 p.m., with Anaheim's John Lackey facing Tim Wakefield. ... The Angels chose to spend Wednesday night at home, then spent most of Thursday in the air, arriving in Boston around 7 p.m. ... Angels starter Kelvim Escobar has a career 5-6 record and 5.12 ERA against the Sox. ... The Twins plan to start ace Johan Santana, the Game 1 winner, in a possible Game 4, as long as Santana tells manager Ron Gardenhire that he is ready. That would set up Brad Radke for a possible fifth game.