Red Sox Come up Clutch, Mistakes Cost Angels

Robert SpeigleContributor IOctober 7, 2008

The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim played a great series to watch.

Although the final series tally was 3-1 in favor of the Red Sox, each game was filled with suspense and was hard fought.  It was clearly the best series of the Divisional playoffs. 

While the Cubs, Brewers, and White Sox seemed to have no chance in their losses, each game of this series could have gone the other way.

Jon Lester led the Red Sox in game four, as he dominated the Angel hitters.  Lester only allowed four hits and two walks in his seven innings pitched, and seemed to get stronger as the game went on. 

He left the game with a 2-0 lead, which was quickly given up the next inning by Justin Masterson. John Lackey didn't have his best stuff last night, but he was dominant as well. 

If it weren't for a couple of more Angel miscues, he too may have left the game after throwing up all zeros.  This Angels team should have nothing to hang their heads about.  They took the defending champions to the limit in each game, and, if they had a break here or there, would have won.

The top of the ninth was Boston's ultimate test.  The Angels got a pinch hit double off the Green Monster by Kendry Morales, who was lifted for pinch running speedster Reggie Willits. Howie Kendrick then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to get Willits to third base. 

It almost had that Red Sox-coming-back-against-the-Yankees feel—you know, from the 2004 ALCS game four comeback win.

What happened next just epitomized the Angels' series as a whole. 

With Erick Aybar at the plate, Angels skipper Mike Scioscia decided to go with the suicide squeeze.  Manny Delcarmen threw an inside pitch that Aybar wasn't able to get a piece of, as Willits was coming down the line toward the plate.  Jason Varitek ran down Willits and applied the tag. 

The Angels were upset as Varitek fell down and the ball popped out, but it was clearly the right call as the ball came out well after the tag.

In the bottom of the ninth Jason Bay hit a one out ground rule double near the Pesky Pole.  Reggie Willits dove and came close to making the play, but was lucky it went in the stands after he missed it.  Mark Kotsay then lined out to first, where Mark Teixeira made a great play. 

The inning then seemed to have the same feel as the night before when the Red Sox failed to come through on several chances to score the winning run. 

Jed Lowrie then hit a breaking ball through the hole between first and second and into right field, which allowed Bay to score the winning run.

There seems to be something about this Red Sox team.  Something the late '90s Yankees used to have—the will to win.  The Red Sox are winning with scrappy hard-nosed players who seem to never give up. 

They now go to Tampa Bay to take on a young Rays team, who to this point have dominated the Red Sox at home. 

Don't be surprised to see Tampa Bay take a 3-0 or 3-1 series lead, and watch the Red Sox come back and win the trip to the World Series.  Until someone knocks the Red Sox off, they have to be the favorites.