After an impressive 4-1 win in Game One of the ALDS over Angels' ace John Lackey, the Red Sox now hold a decisive advantage in the division series.
Jon Lester had a dominant performance, as had been expected of him following a breakout year. Now the Angels have lost their home-field advantage, as they will have two must-win games in Boston, regardless of the outcome of Game Two.
Typical of the recent playoff meetings between these two clubs, Red Sox pitching dominated the Angels' batters, allowing only one unearned run.
Prior to Game One, it seemed this series would be all Angels, all the time. They had the best record in baseball this year, had finally provided some much-needed protection for Vladamir Guerrero in the lineup, and had no health issues entering the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox face a myriad of questions entering this postseason.
Confidence was much lower than usual in Red Sox Nation following the news that Josh Beckett would be unable to go into Game One and would be questionable for the whole series with an oblique strain.
Other health questions surrounded Mike Lowell's hip and J.D. Drew's back, as it was questionable whether they would be able to play or contribute in this series. Regardless of their health, the Red Sox lineup came under scrutiny after subpar seasons from Varitek and Ortiz, as well as concern over the performance of a slumping Lowrie.
After Lester's dominant performance in Game One, the balance of power has shifted in the series. Although neither J.D. Drew nor Mike Lowell made any real contribution, both were in the lineup and playing the field, and presumably will be for the remainder of the playoffs. Josh Beckett will be ready to pitch Game Three in Fenway Park on Sunday.
So where does that leave the Angels?
Game Two in Angel Stadium becomes a must-win against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is coming off an improved season with borderline CY Young credentials. If they do not win Game Two, the Red Sox will have two chances to finish them off at home—once with Beckett and the other with Lester. Yikes!
If the Angels do manage to win Game Two, they still have to travel to Boston and beat either Beckett or Lester in Fenway Park, a place where both of those pitchers have excelled.
Regardless of the outcome of Game Two, the Red Sox have carved themselves out a clear advantage in this division series, and if they win Game Two, they will be looking for the third postseason sweep of the Angels this decade.