The streak continues.
No! Not that streak. Put your pants back on. I'm talking about the Red Sox. Yesterday they extended their winning streak in the ALDS against the Angels to nine games. It looked grim until the sixth inning, but they pulled through.
The game started rather poorly, as I realized I only had a half a bag of chips left. Also, Lester quickly loading the bases in the bottom of the first. Not a fun way to start the game, especially when it's 10 PM and most grocery stores are closed. Thankfully, Lester induced Kendrick to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning, and I remembered that there is a 24-hour Shaw's just a few blocks away.
I got nachos this time.
The game would stay knotted at zero until the third. That is when, with a runner on first and two outs, Jed Lowrie, a usually excellent shortstop, would boot a routine grounder up the middle causing Sox fans everywhere to leap from their chairs and permanently injure their lower spine.
There were nachos and salsa everywhere.
The Angels would not let such an opportunity go by without so much as a run. It would be embarrassing. So Hunter stepped to the plate and hit a 1-2 pitch sharply to left, driving in the first run of the game.
The score remained at 1-0 all the way to the sixth inning. That was when the game turned the corner and smacked its head on the door.
It started innocently enough. David Ortiz, showing remarkable patience, swung at the first pitch and sent a ten-mile-high pop-up to the shortstop. His swing looked as though he were trying to punch a hole in the moon with the ball. One out, no one on.
Then Youkilis drew a walk. Now, with one on and one out, down by a run, JD Drew, the man who Terry Francona said before the game saved the season for the Red Sox, stepped up to the plate. The scene was perfectly set for some serious post-season dramatics. All of Red Sox Nation were sitting on the very edge of their seats. Some (and I won't name names) even fell right off the front of their seat. I'm sure they were very embarrassed and don't want to talk about it.
Then Drew struck out.
It was very anti-climatic. Everyone came off the edge of their seats and sat back with a groan. Not because Drew struck out. That happens all the time. It was because it really hurt the back to sit on the edge of the seat like that. Thanks a lot, Lowrie.
But then Jason Bay, the late season replacement for Manny Ramirez, a controversial eventual first-ballot Hall of Famer, stepped to the plate. Red Sox Nation had just put a heaping handful of nachos into its mouth when Bay connected on an 0-1 pitch and sent the ball screaming into the left-center bleachers.
This sent all of Boston into a deafening "Manny Who?" chant that I'm sure could be heard all the way in Cleveland. Although it probably sounded more like "Wammy Two?" because we just couldn't chew any faster. I think they got the point, though.
Now the score was 2-1 in favor of the Red Sox, and that's pretty much all Lester needed. For seven innings and 3/4 of the bag of nachos, Lester didn't allow a single earned run and struck out seven. He then handed a one run lead over to the bullpen and departed to a standing ovation given by myself. Anaheim wasn't as accommodating, but I'm sure he could sense my appreciation.
The bullpen would not disappoint this night.
It would be a little interesting in the eighth, when Masterson would allow Guerrero to reach first and Hunter to follow with a bloop single over the head of Youkilis in shallow right. Thankfully, Guerrero had evidently put the wrong batting helmet on because it must have been six sizes too small.
As a result of the reduced blood flow to the brain, Guerrero tried to take third base on the bloop Hunter single and Youkilis threw him out by an astronomical unit. The Angels wouldn't get another hit in the inning.
In the ninth, Papelbon failed to throw a perfect inning (what a loser), but he did strike out the side, and it was more than good enough thanks to RBI singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz in the top of the ninth to provide a little insurance, courtesy of Aflak.
And most importantly, the nachos lasted the entire game. That's conservation at its finest.
So now the Red Sox have a day off to sit around drinking beer and reflect on what they had just done. The Angels were the favorites coming in to this series, and the Sox had just finishing losing about a billion games to them in the regular season. Yet somehow in the post-season, when it mattered most, the Red Sox proved that they could reach down deep, take a long restful breath, and send Lester to the hill to win the game for them. It was beautiful.
So while I went immediately to sleep so that I would be physically capable of waking up for work the next morning, I'm sure the Sox were already preparing for Game Two on Friday. Thankfully, Major League Baseball made that game start at 9:30 instead of 10, even though that game is on a weekend and it would have made a whole lot more sense to have Game One start at 9:30 instead of Game Two, but hey, what do we know. We're not schedulers. We're just regular people.
So now the Red Sox must win two more games and it's off to the ALCS. Although it's best not to get ahead of ourselves. I've definitely gotten in trouble for that before. Instead, I'm going to go get a couple more bags of nachos for Friday. They seem to have helped the Sox more than the chips did. Maybe I'll get some hummus, too. I sure do love hummus...
With beer, of course! I'm a man, after all! Haha!