Where have we seen this seen this scenario before? Francisco Rodriguez on the mound, ninth inning, close game against the Red Sox, and gives up a game-winning home run. If you're expecting Manny Ramirez, he's on the West Coast.
In Game Two Friday night, J.D. Drew smacked a clutch two-run home run off the Angels closer to give the Boston Red Sox a 7-5 lead in the ninth inning, a score that would hold up to give Boston a 2-0 lead in the teams' best-of-five American League Division Series.
It was Drew's first home run since July 26, but it could not have come at a better time; he also had an RBI double in the first inning, finishing 3-for-5. With the win, the Red Sox are a game away from another sweep of the Angels in the first round (their third since 2004) and a return trip to the AL Championship Series.
The Red Sox have won an astounding 11 straight against the Angels in October, dating all the way back to Game Five of the 1986 ALCS. If you remember, it was Dave Henderson's clutch two-out, two-strike, two-run homer that tied the game in the ninth.
Boston trailed in that series, 3-1, but won Game Five in extra innings, taking the final two at Fenway Park. Though the Angels did win a franchise record 100 games and eight out of nine against Boston during the regular season, the Red Sox have a knack of just coming through more than everyone else in October.
The Red Sox have outhit, outpitched, and outclutched the LA Angels. They have basically played the Angels' game and then some. They are clearly in the heads of the Angels and their fans, who cannot seem to shake the boys from Beantown since that nightmare finish from the 1986 ALCS.
No time was more evident than the last play of the third inning, when Torii Hunter, busting down the line trying to beat out a ground ball, was called out at first after a bang-bang play. He jumped up in the air in anger and landed awkwardly on his left knee; he stayed in the game, but was clearly bothered by it.
Red Sox pitching has clearly kept the Angels in the ballpark. Though the tandem of Garrett Anderson, Mark Teixiera, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter have a combined .667 batting average in the series, they have no home runs (none in their last eight postseason games) and only one extra-base hit (a triple by Chone Figgins).
They have also suffered from single-run innings and have not gotten it done in the late innings. In fact, in the playoffs against the Red Sox since the 2007, they have been outscored in the eighth inning or later by a score of 21-2.
Sox ace (and postseason legend) Josh Beckett goes in Game Three Sunday night in prime time at Fenway, trying to end the Angels season again. Though Beckett did not have a great 2008 season, he's still one of the most feared postseason pitchers of our time.
He is 6-2 with a 1.73 ERA in the playoffs and walked a grand total of two batters in last year's championship run. The Angels will counter with Joe Saunders, who went 17-7 in 2008, his first full year as a starter.
Red Sox Nation will rock the house this Sunday, looking to get back to the ALCS for a potential clash with division rival Tampa Bay and the right to get back to the World Series to become the first repeat championship in baseball since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.
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