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ALDS: Angels-Red Sox Day 5
Every Little League had one. He was the 12-year-old kid that was just a little bigger than everyone else, and he hit a ton. Everyone would always joke about his birth certificate.
No one could get him out, and he'd post positively absurd numbers like -- just picking some numbers out of a hat -- a .714 batting average and an .846 on-base percentage. He'd slug 1.571 and be good for two home runs in a three-game series.
Oh wait, that wasn't some overgrown prepubescent kid terrorizing Williamsport, Pa. That was David Ortiz.
Ortiz and Manny Ramirez strode to home plate 26 times in Boston's three-game sweep of Los Angeles, and they proceeded to first base on 19 of those occasions. Though, again, it's worth noting how slowly Ramirez made that trek the two times he launched the baseball more than 450 feet. It just wasn't fair for the Angels.
Now in that same Little League, there'd be that one team who was much too undisciplined. All the guys would be up there hacking at everything, and they were talented enough as athletes, that it would sometimes work. But, man, when they struggled, it got ugly.
That, all-too-obviously, was the Angels in this series. Manny and Papi alone walked four more times (11) than all the Angels combined (7). Los Angeles batted .192, scored just four runs in two innings (and scoring off Eric Gagne is almost an obligation) and had just 25 total bases, matching the sum of just Boston's 3-4-5 hitters.
It was thorough domination.
In defense of the Angels, they never gave up. Well, until the wheels fell off in seven-run eighth inning in which exactly nothing went their way. But, really, the Angels left it all on field in Game 2. Josh Beckett, the next great postseason starter, was untouchable in Game 1 and Curt Schilling, the current standard in great postseason pitching, was brilliant in Game 3. That's right, the man who has the best winning percentage (9-2, .818) among all pitchers with 10 playoff decisions, pitched Game 3 of this series. Game 3!
Even with Dice-K's mediocre effort in Game 2, the Sox starters sported a cool 0.53 ERA in the series.
This Red Sox team is built to go even deeper in the postseason. Beyond those three starters, they have Tim Wakefield, who's arguably the best No. 4 starter in the majors. Their bullpen, which was largely conserved this series, has great eighth- and ninth-inning relievers in Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon, and "good enough" guys to get there, with Manny Delcarmen, Javier Lopez and Mike Timlin available.
The offense has the aforementioned big Dominican boppers in Manny and Papi, solid protection for them in Mike Lowell and hitters like J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis that can score runs anywhere in the lineup. Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo add long-lacking speed, and Jacoby Ellsbury is the perfect pinch runner/defensive replacement candidate.
Now the Sox have until Friday night to unwind at home and prepare for the winner of Yankees-Indians. In 2004, the Sox secretly craved the Yankees to end talk of all that curse nonsense. This year? Let's listen to Boston CEO Larry Lucchino:
"I really don't care one whit who it is, as long as we're there. That surprises me a little because in the past I've always felt you had to go through Yankee Stadium to validate your quest. I don't feel that way this year.
"Maybe it's a function of us being tested the way we've been the last few years -- we've had a lot of intense experiences with them -- but the train doesn't have to drive through the Bronx in order for us to get to the promised land."
Translation: Let's go, Tribe!
Labels: Angels-Red Sox
posted by SI.com | View comments |
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