October 2008

Bizarre Game 3 of the ALDS

Wow, this started as a real, sloppy first five innings and has now turned into an epic.

Not sure what Kerwin Danley saw on that 3-2 pitch by K-Rod to Mike Lowell. It appeared to be right down the middle. Oh well, Lowrie took a good rip before lining to right.

Paul Byrd will be next out of the ‘pen unless the Red Sox can walk off with a win before that.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, baseball throws you a curveball. A three-run single? How is this possible?

The Red Sox were  pretty lucky to have those three runs because Josh Beckett was extremely shaky.

It’s just weird, he hasn’t been right for any sustained length of time all year. I think at the end of the year, we might learn of some undisclosed injuries that he had to pitch through. Just a gut feeling. You don’t lose location and velocity like that. I know, he had the elbow inflammation. But I wonder what else might have been going on.

Saunders means business tonight. Could we be back here at Fenway again tomorrow?

Other tidbits: Dustin Pedroia, as of 12:04 p.m., remains 0-for-the series … Hopefully they can find a spot for J.D. Drew in this game … Lowell is also 0-for-the series and it’s going to continue to be an interesting decision for Tito whether to play him … How did the Pats look today? I barely saw it? … Youk just belted one off the wall . Where would this team be without him? Tie ballgame again… And hours after Youk tied it, it’s still tied.

At any rate, chime away!

Jason jumps on one — Again

How about Game 2 of Bay Watch? Jason Bay absolutely cranked that pitch
from Santana for a three-run homer and it’s 4-0 before you can even say
“Time for Dice-K to warm up”.

Obviously the Angels have plenty of time to mount a rally, but quite an opening salvo for the Sox here in the OC.

For those who might think that Red Sox manager Terry Francona is overly loyal to his veteran players, it was perhaps interesting to see that Mike Lowell started Game 2 on the bench.

Lowell has had no setbacks with his right hip. It hurts, and it is going to hurt for the rest of the postseason. Sure, Lowell wanted to play tonight. But Francona liked the favorable matchup with Mark Kotsay — 7-for-18 against Santana — and played him at first, with Youkilis moving across the diamond to third.

I also like the move at shortstop, where Alex Cora will make his first psotseason start in a Red Sox uniform in place of the slumping Jed Lowrie.

But what tonight boils down to more than anything is this: Which Dice-K will we get?

The answer is coming shortly.

Bay Watch — looking good so far

Jason Bay nervous in his first playoff game? Perhaps not. The left fielder absolutely obliterated an ill-placed heater by Lackey, launching it over the wall in left.

1-0 Angels is now 2-1 Sox. That was Bay and the Sox’s answer to Manny Ramirez‘s ridiculous golf shot at Wrigley earlier today.

Jon Lester competed his butt off tonight — 117 pitches worth. Anyone who thought this guy had the composure to pitch a Game 1 was absolutely right. If not for that Lowrie error, he’d have been unscored on.

And I loved the move by Tito of bringing in Masterson to start the eighth. As he’s done since coming up, Masterson came through. He got some help from Ellsbury (great catch) and Youkilis (nice throw).

Game 1 of ALDS — Sox and Angels

As a sports follower, this is my favorite day of the whole year. Game 1 of the playoffs. Baseball going on all day.

The Phillies won their first postseason game since 1993, I’m sure the fans there are going crazy. The Cubs imploded against the Dodgers. I’m sure the fans there are going crazy in an entirely different kind of way. By the way, I know people don’t want to hear about Manny anymore, but that home run he hit was positively ridiculous. He literally golfed it out of the dirt and put it into the seats.

Now here we are, Game On! Lester against Lackey. Beckett had another good day, throwing long toss. Tomorrow is the big test, as he tries to throw a side session. If he’s unable to throw on the side, I think you can pretty much pencil Wake in for Game 3.

Without further ado, tonight’s starting lineups.

Red Sox
Ellsbury — CF
Pedroia — 2B
Ortiz — DH
Youkilis — 1B
Drew — RF
Bay — LF
Lowell — 3B
Lowrie — SS
Varitek — C

Lester — SP

Figgins — 3B
Anderson — LF
Teixeira — 1B
Guerrero — DH
Hunter — CF
Kendrick — 2B
Napoli — C
Matthews — RF
Aybar — SS

Lackey — SP

October is here

Here we go, to the very best time of year for a true baseball fan. I think, of all the series that are taking place, Red Sox-Angels is the best. There are a lot of compelling storylines in this series.

Foremost among them? Are the Red Sox too banged up to win? It’s been suggested that the roles are reversed and that the Sox are banged up like the Angels were last year. I’d suggest that doesn’t necessarily mean the Red Sox are going to go down quick like the Angels did.

This is a good Sox team, even with the injuries. One of the most compelling sports teams of my lifetime was the 1987 Celtics. They went into the playoffs with Kevin McHale playing with a stress fracture in his foot. Then Robert Parish severely sprained his ankle. Bill Walton broke his foot — again. Danny Ainge hurt his thigh in Game 7 against Milwaukee. You know what those battered, old Celtics did? They kept winning, until the Lakers finally knocked them out in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Perhaps this Red Sox team — with Mike Lowell banged up, J.D. Drew banged up and Josh Beckett‘s oblique strain — can gut it out just like those Celtics did 21 years ago.

Sure, it hurts that Beckett can’t pitch Game 1. But Jon Lester is no slouch. Pound for pound, he’s been the team’s most consistent starter all year. In case you missed it, his velocity was around 96 or 97 late in the year. And Dice-K for Game 2? Last time I checked, he went 18-3.

If the Red Sox can steal one of these first two games out here in Anaheim, they have a very real shot of winning this series.

I think experience matters this time of year. The Red Sox won’t be fazed by the moment. Odds are that 22 of the 25 players on their roster will come in with playoff experience. Only Jason Bay, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson don’t have any. Also, it feels a bit strange to see the Sox on the October stage without Manny being Manny. One can only wonder if this team would have made the playoffs if there was never a trade.

So buckle up. I think this is going to be a tremendous series.

Everyone rest up. You East Coasters are going to be up until close to 2 a.m. watching the game on Wednesday.

Talk to you then.

P.S. — In the meantime, Jacoby Ellsbury will be doing a blog with us this postseason. It launched yesterday.