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October 7, 2008 at 1:55 am ET
18 Comments
Goodbye L.A., Hello Tampa Bay!

The tag heard 'round the (baseball) worldSox 3, Angels 2
WP:
Delcarmen (1-0) LP: Shields (0-1) HRs: None

Summary:
Boston scored a run in the bottom of the ninth, minutes after Anaheim had a runner tagged out at third on a botched suicide squeeze, to advance to the ALCS for the fourth time in the last six years.

#1 Stunner: Jed Lowrie 2-4 GW RBI
Start packing your bags, Julio.

The Biggest Loser: Scott Shields 1.2IP, 2H, 1ER, 0BB, 3K
The guy was awesome – until he allowed the series-losing run.

Recap:
What. A. Game.

The Sox dispatched the Angels tonight in one of the most intense, nerve-wracking, stomach churning playoff contests you will ever see, and my heart goes out to my colleague Gil Quinonez and all the other Angels fans for suffering such a crushing defeat.

That being said, bring on the bleeping Rays!

Let me first say that I am in no condition to form cognitive thoughts right now, as I moved from Heinekens to Crown Royal when I ran out of beers (botched packie run by the wife…nuff said) somewhere around the eighth inning.

But even in my shitfaced euphoric state, I can honestly say that was one of the best postseason games I have ever witnessed, and that includes a myriad of Sox/Yanks tilts, memorable ALCS contests and World Series epics.

Neither team wanted to give in, and both starters, Anaheim’s John Lackey and Boston’s Jon Lester, pitched like their MLB Player’s Association card was on the line.

After both starters matched zeroes for four innings, the Sox plated two in the fifth on a ground out by Jacoby Ellsbury and the first hit of the series by Dustin Pedroia to take what seemed like a commanding 2-0 lead.

With Lester on the mound it was commanding. But when Tito went to his bullpen, the lead became mighty tenuous.

Hideki Okajima and Justin Masterson proceeded to give the lead away when they combined for two walks, a passed ball and a two run single by Torii Hunter in the top of the eighth, and when Masterson allowed a lead off double to Kendry Morales in the ninth, it looked like a return trip to LaLa Land was all but guaranteed.

But after a sacrifice got pinch runner Reggie Willits to third, Erick Aybar missed a suicide squeeze attempt, and Jason Varitek chased down Willits and nailed him retreating to third, and even though the Captain dropped the ball, the out was recorded and the momentum swung big time in Boston’s favor.

When Jason Bay dropped a ground rule double into the right field stands with one out in the bottom of the ninth, you could almost feel the electricity in the park seeping through the TV set. Until Mark Teixeira snagged a sure double off the bat of Mark Kotsay for the second out, and Sox fans started thinking maybe it was not to be.

Then shortstop Jed Lowrie stepped to the plate, and one day after he struck out against Scott Shields, the rookie sliced the first pitch he saw from Shields through the infield; Bay raced home from second ahead of the tag, and the Sox had a date in St. Pete for Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night.

It was a crazy game and a crazy series, but ultimately Anaheim’s many costly miscues and inabilty to hit with men on base cost the team with the best record in the major leagues a shot at another World Series title.

Instead the Red Sox will attempt to defend their crown. And on that happy note, I will attempt to down my latest Crown.

Go Sox!

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18 Responses to “Goodbye L.A., Hello Tampa Bay!”
  1. FrankDiscussion says:

    This was a great series, especially the last 2 games. I’m at a loss to even describe how impressive Lester looks, this kid never loses his composure. It’s amazing how dominant he has become in a relatively short period of time. This guy has stepped up and become Boston’s postseason ace, filling a vital role (Beckett / Schilling) whereas the overhyped Hughes is currently languishing in Arizona Fall League. You’ll have to pardon me, but I’m a bit jealous.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to a great series with the Rays.

  2. UncleTony says:

    Jon Lester – The new Josh Beckett?
    Jed Lowrie – The new shortstop?
    Sox – Rays – The new AL East rivalry?
    Here’s hoping the Sox pull another Renteria move and eat a lot of Lugo’s contract to ship him out. The Rays must’ve been laughing when we signed him! This series should be a real dogfight (sorry Michael Vick), looking forward to a kickass ALCS!

  3. Anarchist Accountant says:

    I don’t think the Rays have a chance considering they will be squeezed like a grape as bad as the Angel pitchers and Lester will continue to get strike calls a foot off the plate.

    The mere fact Lester EXPECTED to get that call in the 5th last night is an indication of how embarassing the umpiring has been in favor of the Red Sox. Is there any doubt it will continue to be that way.

  4. Jeff says:

    AA,

    Already coming up with excuses for the Rays collapse, eh?

  5. RE: Lester, my first line was originally going to be “move over Beckett, the Red Sox have a new playoff ace”. That was before Masterson blew his win.

    It’s true, though. This kid has morphed from a question mark as he was recovering from cancer to an icewater-in-the-veins, top of the rotation assasin. What he did in this series – 14IP, 10H, 0ER, 3BB, 11K -against the “best team in baseball” is simply amazing.

    AA- would you like some cheese to go with that wine? Look at those stats above, plus the fact that he did not allow the leadoff runner to reach base in any of those 14 innings, and say with a straight face his numbers are the result of a wide strike zone. C’mon, you’re better than that (I think).

  6. **whine** (damn, i effed up the joke!)

  7. bittermoron says:

    I dont think AA is whining. Just pointing out that last night’s strikezone was freaking AWFUL. Still, if the angels can just CATCH THE #@$$%% BASEBALL they just might have won this gaddamned thing.

  8. “an indication of how embarassing the umpiring has been in favor of the Red Sox”

    I call that whining. I agree the umpring was horrendous the last two games, but for both sides. I even made a note last night that Rapuano’s zone was almost as inconsistent as Danley’s the night before. Certain pitches were strikes to one batter, balls to another. The most egregious example were the two calls on that Teixeira at bat. But it wasn’t due to a Sox bias, it was simply poor umpiring.

    You hit the nail on the head – if the Halos played fundamental baseball, they might have won the series, plain and simple. No one in their right mind would say it was the umpiring that cost them.

  9. FrankDiscussion says:

    Not the first time we’ve heard complaints about Rapuano and it probably won’t be the last. I don’t have problems with an umpire setting the strike zone, my problem is when it isn’t consistent throughout the game.

  10. Exactly, FD. If you’re gonna call the low strike, call it every time. if you’re gonna call a ball on the corner of the plate a ball, call it every time. I mean I tell my Little League kids to get used to where the ump is setting the strike zone and adjust to it, but if there’s no consistency, it fucks up the whole game.

  11. Jeff says:

    You should tell Little League kids that the ump is always right and under no circumstances should they argue with them (Tony Siragusa said this on Sunday). Swing when you think it’s a strike not a ball, if you have two strikes and it’s a close pitch you better swing and not give the ump the chance to call you out. That’s what I tell mine.

    Angels fans blaming the umps is preposterous…they sucked the entire series.

  12. Our league instructs the umps to call a low strike zone, like near the shoetops. The kids hate it, but we tell them as long as you know it’s gonna be a strike every time, you can’t complain about it.

    That’s the problem with Rapuano’s and Danley’s zones – the players never knew what was going to be a ball or strike. That shouldn’t happen in a playoff series, and I hope those guys are reprimanded with the new grading system they are under.

    Bingo on the Halos this series. That’s why I said AA was whining, if he was serious (which I believe he was, unless he’s pulling a Chalk!)

  13. FrankDiscussion says:

    IMO the Angel’s defense, or lack thereof, simply killed them in this series. Add a dash of stranding RISP and a pinch of lights out pitching (Lester) and you have a recipe for an early postseason exit.

    Anyway, interesting link follows if anyone hasn’t checked it out previously.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/m.....their-own/

  14. Pretty interesting stuff. I noticed Rapuano only made one list, smallest high strike zone. Wish there was more data on those two (he and Danley), but from the looks of their calls the last two games, it’s probably impossible to get any kind of consistent read on them.

  15. Anarchist Accountant says:

    Of course I’m whining, Jeff. That way I can either say I told you so, or good luck on the golf course Sox… ;)

    Either that, or I can just be a bitter redass over who wins like the other Jeff…

    In either case…we don’t have to watch the Yankers…so baseball wins.

  16. AA,

    I can’t argue that those calls on Tex were questionable, but do you agree that the zone was inconsistent for both teams?

  17. Anarchist Accountant says:

    Of course, Rose…though funny how those inconsistencies appear so often at key moments.

    But I’m not a lone voice…Andrew Siciliano opened his show the other night with how the Angels had to groove pitches in Fenway to get a strike. I think Joe Magrane said it best, that sometimes it seems the umpires are literally afraid to make a called third strike against the Red Sox.

  18. That oughta put the arguement to rest for good, because Andrew “Dumbo” Siciliano and Joe Migraine are complete idiots. Case closed.

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