I was out of my chair before home plate umpire Tim Welke raised his arm. It was 11:24 pm and Derek Lowe had just unleashed another nasty breaking pitch that started inside and broke viciously over the plate. Terrence Long was out on strikes and hearts all across New England and Red Sox Nation began beating once again. The Comeback Cowboys edged Oakland 4-3 and captured the ALDS, 3 games to 2. We have been allowed in Eden.
For me, the biggest moments were, in approximate chronological order, Guillen being thrown out at third base (9-6-5) to end the 4th, the patience of Varitek, Damon and Ramirez against Zito, who was tiring, in the 6th, the quick thinking of Nomar and Mueller to get Dye at second base after the Collision and end the 7th, and the relief pitching of Embree, Timlin and (especially) Lowe. Derek needed to get 2 outs with the tying run at third and the ALDS-winning run at second. He struck out Melhuse on a breaking ball and after walking Singleton to load the bases, he got Long on a 1-2 pitch to end the game. If you say that strike 3 to Long was the most important pitch of the year, I won't argue with you. Varitek: "The execution of that last pitch was the best feeling I could ever ask for. It dropped about a foot." ... After watching Lowe come unglued at his own mistakes and simple bad luck several times this year, it was huge to see him retain his focus and save the game. It is time to retire the Derek Lowe Face.
Stung by their own offensive impotence, some Oakland players, notably Tejada and Hatteberg, were pissed because they believed Lowe grabbed his crotch and gave the A's the finger after the final out. Tejada was raging in the clubhouse. Didn't Tejada celebrate with a fist pump after catching a popup to end Game 4, which merely tied the series at 2-2? ... The fact is that Tejada and his mates threw away chance after chance after chance to take this series. Fox kept showing various "1918" signs around the park; those card-carrying A's fans might want to examine their own team's record of failure. If asked, Trot Nixon might suggest they all go read Matthew 7:3.
The ALCS is next. ... Damon will reportedly miss at least the first two games. ... Little said Wakefield will start Game 1 tomorrow, followed by Lowe. ... Boston was planning on taking 11 pitchers (replacing Adrian Brown with Suppan or Jones) but that may change because of Damon's injury. ... Martinez elected to fly with the team after Game 4, getting his rest on the flight by stretching out across a row of seats under a tent of blankets. Little: "It looked like my grandson playing in the living room. I didn't want to disturb him. He looked comfortable to me."
John Tomase: "Doused in champagne and warm beer, Kevin Millar let out a shout in the middle of the jubilant Red Sox clubhouse. 'Evil Empire!' he yelled, 'we're coming to get you now!' ... 'I feel this is our destiny,' said reliever Mike Timlin. 'I know Minnesota had a chance to beat New York, but I just feel it's our destiny to go through New York to get to the World Series.' ... Whereas the Yankees typically scratched out their 10 victories [in 19 games], Boston's nine wins included blowouts of 10-3, 10-2, 10-5, 9-3 and 12-0. ... Privately, Sox officials had hoped for New York, because the turf of Minnesota's Metrodome and the speed-oriented Twins lineup posed more matchup problems than New York's plodding attack."
The Daily News agrees: