Poor Chone Figgins. He should have known he was in for a rough one when Manny Ramirez hammered a liner off his glove in the first inning of Boston's 9-3 win over Anaheim in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
It got a whole lot worse for the Angels third baseman in the fourth when he misfired a routine Johnny Damon groundball to home plate, or rather, to the left of home plate, allowing Jason Varitek and Orlando Cabrera to score. That would be the start of a long seven-run inning for the Red Sox -- the most runs scored by the BoSox in postseason history and the most ever surrendered by the Angels.
From the Bench
Red Sox manager Terry Francona made the right choice by sending Curt Schilling to the hill for Game 1.
Boston's win over the Angels might have been decided long before Schilling launched strike one to Anaheim's leadoff man, Figgins. This game may have been decided when Schilling, a preparation freak, flipped on his computer and began determining his strategy to stifle the power-packed Angels lineup.
Schilling, however, was disappointed in his performance. "This is as bad as I've thrown command-wise in five, six, seven weeks," he said.
Despite his self-flagellation, Schilling iced hot-hitting MVP favorite Vladimir Guerrero (0-for-4 against Shilling Tuesday and 0-for-5 in the game). Coming into Game 1, Guerrero had hit .546 in his past five games -- but had hit only .255 with four home runs in his career against the Boston righthander.
There were rumblings, grumblings and more than a few raised eyebrows when Pedro Martinez didn't come out for pregame introductions. Some speculated it was a temper tantrum from a guy who's used to being the Game 1 go-to-guy, while others, such as Francona, said they didn't even notice.
For those Boston fans watching the series with a clove of garlic or a voodoo doll, here are a few more reasons to consult your spiritual advisor. Exactly 18 years ago (yes, that is "18" as in "1918") the Angels beat the Red Sox 8-1 (yes, as in the last two digits of that blasted year) in Game 1 of the 1986 American League Championships Series -- the last time these two teams met in playoff action. If deja vu is a factor in the curse, then Tuesday's 9-3 victory bodes well for the afflicted.
The Red Sox went on to win the '86 ALCS with an 8-1 (here we go again with those 1's and 8's) in Game 7. Spooked yet? Consider this: The Red Sox can lay their curse to rest with a 2004 World Series win in Game 7 on, none other than, Halloween.