As the regular season wound down, did you have that funny feeling of deja vu as the Met's collapsed and the final postseason spot came down to a one game do-or-die match-up? Yeah, me too. That feeling was strong again last evening as the Red Sox took a 2–0 ALDS lead over the Angels...again.
While the outcome hearkened October of 2007, the game itself was nothing like a rehash of other Boston postseason victories. After jumping to a 4–0 lead in their first at bat, most of the remainder of the game featured the tenacity of the Halos hitters. Never scoring more than one run in any inning, the Angels battled back to tie things up 5–5 in the bottom of the eighth.
While the Red Sox had been keeping Angel's lead-off hitters cold over the first 12 innings (Games One and Two), once Anaheim changed that, their luck started to change too. Every run the Angles scored began with the lead-off man reaching bases.
As the ninth inning began, Boston fans still managed to keep the "Let's Go Red Sox" loud enough to be heard on the TBS television feed. Francisco Rodriguez was on the hill for the Angels (are you getting the deja vu feeling yet?) David Ortiz hit a double to center and was replaced by pinch runner Coco Crisp.
After Youkilis grounded out, leaving Crisp still at second, JD Drew stepped to the plate. After being out with back issues for much of the end of the season, Drew had been showing steady reliability since coming back to the line up, but the question was still, "How healthy is he really?"
With the Doc Brown's flux-capacitor, well, fluxing, Drew deposited a 2–2 change-up into the stands As the normally animated K-Rod stood on the mound with head hung low, the questions About Drew's health may not have a definitive answer, but the two-run jack certainly answered anther query: Who has the Angels' number?
That would be the Boston Red Sox.
With with Anaheim's "Rally Monkey" stuffed and mounted, and the Angel fans quieted by Drew's bat, the stage was set for Jonathan Papelbon. After a circus catch by Youkilis, leaning in to the camera pit along third, Papelbon rung up a very anticlimactic strikeout on Howie Kendrick, who had three others in the game.
When the eighth inning began and Terry Francona sent Justin Masterson back out to the mound, Red Sox Nation had tensed. After Masterson barely escaped the seventh while giving up a single run, Manny Delcarmen was already warm and most expected him to come in.
Masterson took the mound and one pitch to Chone Figgins out him on third. Francona then brought in Papelbon, seemingly too late as a one out sacrifice fly scored the tying run. Papelbon closed the inning with the tie in tact, setting the stage for Drew's big lumber moment.
As it turns out, the most irrelevant statistic coming into the ALDS was that the 2008 Red Sox were 1–8 against the Angels. What has been seemingly more important is the domination of Boston over Anaheim in the postseason.
Last night's win set a new record for postseason wins by a single franchise over another. Boston's 11 straight wins over Anaheim surpassed the previous record of 10, held by Oakland over, guess who...The Red Sox. The Red Sox also hold the longest current streak of postseason wins with eight going back to game five of the 2007 ALCS.
With Saturday being a travel day, the Angels have a good bit of time to contemplate game three in which they will have to face Josh Beckett at Fenway. Beckett was moved out of the first game spot by a suspicious "oblique strain." With the normally long time needed for such injuries to heal, some folks are thinking it was more ruse than bruise after a side session yesterday was said to have gone wonderfully.
In a postseason where all the games have been decided before the final frame or two, last night's battle will certainly be one of the more memorable moments. With all four series currently at 2–0, the league championship series seem to be close to set. If so, these Red Sox better hope to call a little bit more history back in the event they face the Rays, who are lighting up their first postseason awfully bright.