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Playoff-tested Red Sox ready to battle

Playoff-tested Red Sox ready to battle

For the third consecutive season, Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar will be providing daily commentary to MLB.com throughout his team's postseason run. On the eve of Game 1 of the Division Series against the White Sox, Millar analyzes the matchup.

I look at this series as being very intriguing. The White Sox are a club that has great starting pitching, probably the best in the American League all year. We're obviously a club that can basically bring anything to the table offensively: power and a little bit of speed. It will be an intriguing series to see which chess match is going to work.

Offensively, we have to find a way to get to their starters, bottom line. Jose Contreras is starting the first game and he's a guy that has a devastating split finger. He can be a power pitcher at times with his fastball. But we have to lay off that split finger in the dirt and make him throw strikes and get his pitch count up. I think if we get his pitch count up to close to 100 pitches going into the fifth inning and we get to their bullpen, we have a shot.

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We have to pitch and play good defense. Obviously, we're going to hit. That's the bottom line. But we have to find a way to get our starting pitchers throwing good and defensively make the plays, make every play we're expected to make. I think if pitching and defense gets us through there, our offense will get us some leads and we'll go from there.

It's a lot of the same group of guys with the same chemistry in the clubhouse. We know what to expect from each other. We have a lot of energy and we're a tight group.

I expect us to go out and play good baseball. We need 11 wins now.

The season is over, the regular season is gone. Crinkle up those papers and the stats and throw them in the garbage. The new season starts tomorrow, and we have to do anything we can to win a baseball game. I think that's what we have to put our focus on. Just one pitch at a time and getting 11 wins.

Any time you get to the playoffs, it's an exciting time, the energy level is just a notch above everything that you feel during the regular season. Every pitch means something right now. You have to take that focus into every pitch, every inning.

The postseason is a situation where one baserunning play can manufacture a run for your team. One "get 'em over" can manufacture a run. It's a big difference from the regular season, when you're playing 162 games. Postseason, you're playing not to be eliminated and to win baseball games, that's the bottom line.

It's what you work for, every single day, in February in Spring Training, when it's 150 degrees and you work to get to where we're at. There are only eight teams left. That's the amazing thing. There are a lot of teams that are at home watching us and a lot of teams that have never been to the postseason. It's an exciting time -- it's something you strive to be as a champion. We have a chance to shock the world for a second straight year and go back-to-back.

You claw, you fight, you go through injuries, you go through ups and downs in a season, you go through off-years, anything to get through the season. We're right where we want to be as a team. We're in the playoffs. Everything starts over now.

The experience factor, knowing what we have to do and knowing what the tasks are, is huge. We were here as a Wild Card last year, we had to claw our way through their last year, and here we are again.

This whole series, the last three games against the Yankees at our place, that was what it was all about. We come in there one game down and ended up even after the last game of the year. I was so proud of our guys to win that last game because we had to win to get into the playoffs.

We couldn't rely on Cleveland to lose. We wanted to take care of our own business on our field, which we did. We won two out of three against the Yankees. It's an odd thing to lose the American League East title with the head-to-head matchups during the year. I'd like to have been playing a playoff game at Yankee Stadium on Monday to decide the American League East champion.

But that's the way it is. We're in the playoffs. You want to get to the party. Once you're in the party, it's how you come out of the party.

Kevin Millar's diary appears as told to Ian Browne, a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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