Angels - 102 010 000 001 - 5 16 0Hell of a game and a tough one to lose. If this had been an all-or-nothing game for both sides, this 5:19 battle -- the see-saw battle of the first five innings and the many missed opportunities for both teams after that -- would be on a short list of classic DS games.
Red Sox - 030 010 000 000 - 4 7 0
Beckett had neither stuff nor control (5-9-4-4-6, 106), throwing 30 pitches in the first inning and 70 through the first three frames. He escaped the first down only 1-0, despite allowing a single, double and two walks. The Angels stranded eight runners in the first four innings.
With two outs in the second, Saunders walked Jed Lowrie, gave up a single to Jason Varitek and walked Coco Crisp. Jacoby Ellsbury popped the ball into short center. Howie Kendrick tracked it, took a peek at Torii Hunter coming in from center and backed off. The ball fell between them and Ellsbury was credited with the first three-run single in post-season history!
(That was not the only blunder made by the Angels. Torii Hunter was gunned down trying to stretch a single into a double to start the ninth inning. Jason Bay fired the ball in from the left field line to Dustin Pedroia. FY whirled around to make a quick tag, was surprised to see that Hunter wasn't there and had to actually wait a beat or two to make the easy tag on the headfirst-sliding Hunter!)
Mike Napoli hit a two-run home run in the third and a solo dong in the fifth as LA took a 4-3 lead. Boston came right back to tie in their half on doubles by Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis.
After the fifth, the Boston bats went AWOL. Their next hit would not come until the tenth inning. And it was at that time, against Francisco Rodriguez, that Boston had their best chance at a seies-clinching walkoff. After Dustin Pedroia (now 0-for-13 in the series) struck out, David Ortiz worked a seven-pitch walk. Yook singled to center and after Frod fanned Jason Bay, Mike Lowell also drew a seven-pitch pass. With Alex Cora running for Lowell, Lowrie smoked a pitch to right, but it was hit right at Gary Matthews for the final out. The Sox made Frod work, though, throwing 33 pitches in his one inning of work.
The Angels scored the winning run off Javier Lopez when Napoli opened the 12th with a ground ball single to left. He was bunted to second and scored on Erick Aybar's bloop hit to short center. Ortiz walked to start the bottom of the 12th, but Yook (F8) Bay (K looking) and Cora (5-3) could not move him along.
I look at all the chicken scratchings on my scorecard -- completely full at 12 innings -- and realize I could blab on for quite awhile, taking you through the six shutout innings tossed by the MDC-Jeemer-Masterson-Bot quartet and a bunch of other stuff.
And if I had punished my mind and ears with TBS sound, I could (judging from the game thread) offer plenty of pro-Angels BS from Chip Caray and Buck Martinez. A very blatant example came in the top of the seventh when Caray was doing a promo about possible Monday games and said that "hopefully" this series would go to a Game 4. He quickly qualified that statement with an "if you're an Angels fan" addendum.
The thought of relying on Daisuke Matsuzaka in a Game 5 in Anaheim on Wednesday is a bit scary, so let's hope Jon Lester is sharp on Monday night.
Also: The White Sox beat the Rays 5-3 and staved off elimination for another day. The Phillies beat the Brewers 6-2 and will begin the NLCS against the Dodgers on Thursday.
Pre-game note: Many of you have helped SoSock/Tim and Cathy raise money for a used car -- and I thank you profusely. ... I blog because I enjoy doing it. I'm against having a "tip cup" and I loathe advertising. I blog for free, you read for free. Simple. However, if you do feel like showing your appreciation for JoS (or you're just feeling generous!), please consider helping two of my friends. Thanks again.
Joe Saunders (3.41, 128 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (4.03, 114 ERA+)
Back at Fenway Park -- where they went 56-25 this year -- the Red Sox go for their third consecutive ALDS sweep over the hapless Angels.
Los Angeles has a slight advantage when it comes to tonight's starters. Saunders led the Angels in Adjusted ERA and finished the regular season with 15 straight scoreless innings. In 2008, he put up Quality Starts in each of his three outings against the Red Sox: 18.2 IP, 18 H, 9 BB, 6 K, 3.38.
Past history says that Beckett "deserved" the ball in Game 1, but based on this year's performance, he's slotted in his rightful place as the 3rd starter. Beckett faced Los Angeles twice in July (13.1-20-2-14, 7.42). P.S.: After pictures of Beckett dragging his suitcase out of Fenway with his right arm last week were published, SoSH had some alternate theories of why Beckett was held back.
Against Saunders: Pedroia has the best average (7-for-18, .389), while Coco Crisp is 5-for-17, with four doubles and a home run. ... Against Beckett: Mrs. Garrett wears him out (.471 average, 1.291 OPS).
Note: If the Red Sox win tonight, Beckett could start ALCS 1 on Friday on normal rest. However, that would give both Lester and Matsuzaka nine days of rest before Games 2 and 3.
Before Boston:sweep Cubs: There will be no 1918 rematch.