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September 24, 2008 at 1:23 am ET
21 Comments
Let’s dance! Sox lock up chance to defend their title

Sox 5, Indians 4This fan confirms what people already know: Sox fans are masochists
WP:
Wakefield (10-11) LP: Lee (22-3) SV: Papelbon (41)
HRs: BOS-Youkilis (27); CLE-None

Summary:
Boston withstood a couple of tense late-inning situations and rode a two-run homer from Kevin Youkilis and a clutch RBI single by Jason Bay to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

#1 Stunner(s): Oki and Paps 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
First Oki escaped a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh, and then Paps did the same in the bottom of the eighth as both relievers ensured there would be champagne showers for all after this game.

The Biggest Loser: Cliff Lee 7IP, 9H, 5ER, 3BB, 8K
The Indians’ ace has been money all season, but he picked a bad time to break down, because no one likes seeing another team celebrate at their expense.

Recap:
Well, that was easy, wasn’t it?

It only took an extra few days and countless innings of nail biting, but the Red Sox finally secured a coveted playoff spot, earning the chance to defend their title by defeating the Indians tonight, which eliminated the hated Yankees from postseason play for the first time in 13 years.

Talk about a doubly sweet treat.

While the Sox still have an outside shot at winning the AL East, the Rays double header sweep of Baltimore today lowered their magic number to two games, almost assuring the Sox will have to go the Wild Card route if they hope to capture the trophy again.

Hey, that worked out fine in 2004.

But tonight wasn’t about catching the Rays or drop kicking the Yanks from the playoffs or home field advantage.

It was about a team successfully navigating an extremely long and chaotic season, one that started 3,000 6,000 miles away from home and was filled with enough injuries to stuff a medical journal, to earn a chance to do something that is extremely rare in this sport: repeat as champions.

Okay, maybe it was partly about knocking the Yanks out of the playoffs.

And it was fitting on a night when the team announced it was retiring the number of the legendary Johnny Pesky that the longest-tenured Sox player, Tim Wakefield, picked up the victory. It was also fitting that one of the newest acquisitions, Jason Bay, drove in the game-winning and playoff spot-clinching run.

Take that, ManRam.

The game was about as tense as it gets with one team basically assured of a playoff spot and the other counting the days until season’s end. Both Wake and Cliff Lee tossed three scoreless frames before Kevin Youkilis crushed a two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth, then Cleveland answered with four runs in the top of the fifth.

But the resilient Sox were determined not to let another possible clincher get away, and they dropped three runs on Lee, who hadn’t lost since early July, in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to a two run double by Dustin Pedroia (2-4, R, 2BI) and a two out single by Bay that proved to be the winning run.

This being Boston, though, the win would not come so easy. Trailing by one run, Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning off Manny Delcarmen, prompting Tito to bring exiled lefty Hideki Okajima into what had been a taboo situation for him all season – men on base.

All Oki did was run the count full on Victor Martinez before finally getting him to foul out to first, much to the delight of the chilly Fenway Faithful, and then it was six more outs to glory.

Except glory was delayed again when Justin Masterson and Javier Lopez combined to load the bases again in the eighth, prompting Tito to bring Paps in to another pressure-packed situation.

But instead of the wishy-washy Paps of recent history, the closer morphed back into his Terminator-like self, needing just one pitch to escape the jam and set up a potential celebration in the ninth.

No sign of drama in the final frame as Paps reared back and made quick work of the helpless Tribe batters, fanning the first two before inducing Martinez into a celebration-sparking ground pop out, and just like that all the pains and worries and fears of the past few weeks were drowned in a shower of Dom Perignon and Dirty Water.

Now the team can just relax a bit and treat these last five games as glorified exhibitions, playing some of the kids while resting some of the vets and lining up the rotation for what promises to be a tough first round match up, no matter which team they face.

Although it’ll be strange playing New York this late in the season without anything on the line for either team, for completely different reasons.

Not that I’m complaining.

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21 Responses to “Let’s dance! Sox lock up chance to defend their title”
  1. FrankDiscussion says:

    (Disclaimer – I’m a Yankee fan)

    Congrats Boston, impressive what the team did this season through a myriad of injuries and roster changes. Even when vital parts of your offense went down (Ortiz)
    your other guys stepped up (Drew) and carried the weight. Lester has been nothing short of amazing. Pedroia MVP ? In my opinion, yes. You guys may have been down but never out.

  2. Dirty Water says:

    Frank, you must be of the old guard. You’re not at all like the gloating, center-of-the-universe asshats that now dominate Yankee fandom; the ‘we’ will fare better than ‘you’ because ‘we’ dominated baseball back when (ask your granny if you don’t believe). Ha-ha! 26 rings!. You are a credit to a sniveling breed.

    Great job by the Sox this year. One of their best.

  3. FrankDiscussion says:

    Dirty,

    I celebrate the accomplishments of Yankee teams past, but also acknowledge that it doesn’t have any bearing on the present / future. Contrary to popular belief, the postseason is not a Yankee birthright, you have to earn it. And this season, this team simply did not earn it. They floundered around aimlessly for the better part of the season and never made any concerted effort. I offer no lame excuses about injuries, scheduling, etc… they were simply outperformed.

  4. bwzimmerman says:

    Jason Bay wills himself into the playoffs for the first time… as a Pirates fan, i’m teary with joy…

  5. Thanks Frank, for the um…frank asessment of the Sox situation. Many are criticizing the Sox racous celebration last night, asking why they were acting that way for just wrapping up the wild card.

    But I believe it was an expression of relief and joy that they had survived an extremely tumultous season, marked by many debilitating injuries (don’t forget 4 of their 5 starters spent time on the DL) and the critical loss of a Hall of Fame-caliber outfielder.

    The celebration was a release of all the pent up pressure and frustration from the long season, and to see a guy like Jason Bay make it to the playoffs, well that’s worth celebrating.

    I wasn’t lying about how it will feel weird this weekend when the Yanks series has nothing riding on it. I’m sure that won’t be the case next year.

  6. Anarchist Accountant says:

    Rose, congrats for the Sox to make the playoffs, and many thanks for eliminating the scourge of the earth in the process. As much as our teams have had our moments this year (see Coco Crisp), I’d much rather see the Rays in the playoffs with a team I respect.

    Just one question for you, though. 3000 miles to start the season? What globe are you looking at Rose?

  7. Thanks, AA, and thanks for pointing out my distance mistake. You know, I knew it was wrong when I typed it, but it was also 1:30 in the morning, so I lazily didn’t correct it. I also knew Martinez popped out to end the game, not grounded out, but what can I say, laziness is contagious!

    Agree with you 100% about no New York, but I must say I’d rather face that team in the postseason than these buzzsaw Rays. I keep waiting for them to fizzle, but they just refuse to realize that they’re supposed to. Very dangerous and scary. But we won’t have to worry about them for a while. Gotta focus on LA first.

  8. FrankDiscussion says:

    Jeff, as it stands now the highlight of the season for me is whether or not Mussina can get 20 wins, but it is unsettling to watch a Sox / Yankees series that doesn’t have playoff implications. I’d like to be optimistic about next season but there is alot of work that needs to be done and no real quick fixes on the horizon. I remember how alot of Yankee fans in 2006 were gloating over the Sox not making the playoffs, I recall those stupid “Got Postseason ?” shirts that were popping up all over the Stadium… I didn’t gloat, I thought about what the Sox would do to rectify that situation. Sure enough, my fears were confirmed when they signed Matsuzaka, and the 2007 season is history. I’d like to say the Yankees could duplicate that feat, but with Cashman at the helm, I’m not convinced they can.

  9. I find it amusing that so many people are reveling in the demise of the Yankees rather than enjoying the success of their own team.

    Am I sad that New York isn’t going to the postseason? No. But as long as my team is, I really couldn’t care less about which team isn’t. Maybe it’s the after effects of 2004, but rubbing it in is no longer on the menu for me. I actually feel a tinge of regret that the games this weekend will be meaningless. The best part of sports are the rivalries and thrill of the competitions, and when one team, an archenemy, has nothing to play for but pride, it diminishes the feelings of either joy when your team wins or anger if they lose.

    That being said, I do hope the Sox deny Moose his 20th win if he pitches Sunday, just because he is such an insufferable dick!

  10. Dirty Water says:

    Stop being so anal, Rose. Those douchebags (everything associated with that team)shat on us for years. They deserve it all, and as god is my savior (not really, but it sounds cool) I will give it to the lil fuckers.

    And I, for one, can certainly diffrentiate between the Sox winning and Skanks losing. One is the ice cream, the other: the cherry.

  11. coops2001 says:

    Funny that with the Red Sox and Rays going to the post, season I still keep reading about the Yankees when I thought I wouldn’t. Go to Yankee blogs (Valentine, Abraham, etc) and you read about the Yankees. Read Red Sox and Rays blogs/posts and you read about, well, the Yankees. Ironic.

  12. Dirty Water says:

    Kinda ironic that you post that here, on a Sox thread. Thank you for once again confirming how Skank fans are generally all-mouth, no brainmatter fucktards.

    ya stupid douche.

  13. coops, I’m not sure what you are referring to, because if you have been reading my posts you will notice that I hardly ever mention the Yanks at all. I did so in this one because the Sox win coincided with knocking New York out of the playoffs. I did not gloat or try to rub it in, and in fact in my comment above I stated that I’m not sure why people are taking such joy in New York being eliminated instead of concentrating on their own team making it.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your intent, but I do not overemphasize the Yanks on my posts. Why should I? They haven’t been significant enough to emphasize.

  14. coops2001 says:

    Count the number of post you’ve made on Valentine’s page. You’ll discover that you’re confirming your own ignorance. Remedial English must have been tough on you…

  15. WTF are you talking about? Are you referring to before I was a contributor here? I’m not following you at all. Perhaps if you explained yourself more clearly, ignorant people like myself could understand what the fuck you are saying.

  16. coops2001 says:

    Jeff – Sorry, I meant the poster before you. Here’s an example of his fine baseball analysis:

    http://www.bugsandcranks.com/n...../#comments

  17. Oh okay, I see now. I was thinking, “hell, I try and be cordial about the Yanks and I’m still getting shit for it!”

    Now that I know you were directing it at Dirty, it all makes perfect sense!

  18. coops2001 says:

    Sorry for the misdirection, should have typed faster. Congratulations on the WC. Should be an interesting post season.

  19. No problem. You’re right about the interesting part. I really could see this playoff going in any direction. Nothing would really surprise me. The only bad part about the WC for the Sox is that it will be tough to go to LA and then (possibly) to Tampa Bay and win series. Huge disadvantage for them in both those venues.

    But with all the talk centering around LA, TB and BOS, watch either Minny or the Chisox sneak in there and upset the apple cart. Like I said, nothing would really surpise me this year. it’s wide open.

  20. coops2001 says:

    One advantage for the sox is that their top three pitchers (Dice K, Lester, Becket) will be more of a factor in a short series. Another factor is that Schilling is not available. According to the WS Journal, he along with Becket are two of the post season best pitchers in recent history. But it seems that Lester has more than picked up the slack.

  21. coops2001 says:

    One advantage for the sox is that their top three pitchers (Dice K, Lester, Becket) will be more of a factor in a short series. Another factor is that the Red Sox don’t have Schilling this year . According to the WS Journal, he along with Becket are two of the best post season pitchers in recent history. But it seems that Lester has more than picked up the slack.

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