Monday, October 6, 2008

No Angels in the Outfield

If you haven't noticed, there certainly are no "angels" in the outfield. The Angels beat the Red Sox last night in their 12th try in the 12th inning (hmm), and it was in spite of, not because of the outfield. In game 1, we saw a Jacoby Ellsbury drive result in an error-induced triple. Last night, a lazy, high fly ball dropped harmlessly in mid-center field with two outs. What should have been an inning-ending catch turned into a bases clearing 3 run triple. Maybe it is just Ellsbury knowing where their weak spots are.

Poor OutfieldingSo, I spent this weekend in the deep remote woods of Maine, well out of contact with the rest of mankind. When we finally re-emerged back into civilization, I was pleasantly shocked to learn the Sox won game two of the series thanks to a JD Drew 2 run home run in the ninth. "My God", I thought, "now the poor Angels have to face Josh Beckett in a must win playoff game". Well, we've seen it all season long, but no one in Red Sox Nation has been quite willing to fully admit it. The 2008 Josh Beckett is not the 2007 version.

Right from the first batter, it looked like Beckett was not on. He looked (to me) tentative with his fastball, and throwing more breaking pitches than usual. Some of those were terrific, but his game was not the same we saw in last year's playoffs. But, I give him credit for fighting and battling through it. But, when we saw Vladimir Guerrero actually draw a walk, you knew things were not good. But, the Angels have been unafraid of Beckett all season, and last night was no exception.

Josh BeckettYes, the Red Sox lost, but we all knew the streak of 11 straight playoff victories against the Angels had to come to an end eventually, right? We knew they had good pitching, and last night they out pitched the Sox. Yes, Angels starter, Joe Saunders, gave up 4 earned runs, just like Beckett, but three of those were unearned in my eyes, thanks to the outfield blunder mentioned earlier. Had they made that catch, the Sox lose 4-1, which is pretty much how the game played out.

With Dustin Pedroia, Big Papi, Jason Bay, and Mike Lowell all going hitless, the Sox were not going to do a whole lot of scoring. With the score tied in the ninth, and in extra innings, someone has to score. They came close in the 10th, loading the bases with a single and two walks, but Jed Lowrie's line drive to right center field did not find the gap, but found leather instead. Terry Francona threw every batter from the bench into the game, looking for lightning in one of those bottles, but all bottles were empty. Only Sean Casey remained on the bench. Of course, now we can all wonder what would have happened had Casey gone in, but there is not much point in that. That is simply one possible past that never took place.

Mike LowellSo, what next? First step, sit Mike Lowell down. He's obviously a valiant warrior who wants so badly to help us win, but in his current state, he cannot. He needs rest, and we need take him out of further harm's way. Next, get JD Drew back in right. He's a talented hitter who saved game two, and we need that bat in the game. Then, watch Jon Lester pitch in his favorite location, on the Fenway Park mound. The Sox need to lock this series down tonight, with their best pitcher, at home. If not, how comfortable do you feel about facing the Angels on the west coast with Dice-K on the mound? 50/50? We need to simply lock this one up, now that we still have the Angels on the ropes, and get a small rest before moving forward. One tip to Lester...cover first base! The Sox missed out on two putout opportunities due to Beckett being slow to first, and on one play, Youk killed himself to make a play solo, just to make sure of the out. Come on guys - fundamentals.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Fenway West said...

I feel pretty confident in tonight's game, Dustin Pedroia is due for a big night, Papi is due for a homer and Lester is great at home.

Suldog said...

Dustin's slump is worrisome. Here's hoping he busts out big-time tonight.

Rooster said...

Pedroia is certainly due. Can't give up on him after only a couple of games. Remember Bellhorn in '04? Of course, you could also say, "remember Canseco and Vaughn in 1995". They never snapped out of it going a combined 0-27!