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ALDS: 'Manny Being Papi'
So many questions after Manny Ramirez’s walkoff home run:
What happened first: The ball landing or Manny jogging to first?
Shouldn’t the Angels have walked Manny too? This season’s stats aside, wouldn’t they have rather faced Mike Lowell?
Was that really Manny’s first walkoff homer in his seven seasons in Boston?
Better yet, did Manny really speak to reporters after the game?
Wait, did I misread that or did Manny, who’s demanded so many trades I’ve lost count, really say, " This is the greatest town ever"???
The seemingly bipolar Ramirez, who earlier in the game badly misplayed one ball in left field and nearly over-ran an easy fly ball later on, became Mr. Personality after the game, speaking to reporters for the first time all season. After intentionally walking David Ortiz – never a bad decision – the Angels decided to challenge Manny with men at first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game.
That, however, was a very bad decision.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez grooved a 1-0 fastball, which Manny dutifully sent soaring into the Boston sky. And then he stood at home plate and watched. And watched. If Manny gets buzzed by a fastball tomorrow afternoon in Game 3, that’s why.
While many hitters have trouble readjusting to pitching after taking time off, Manny seems to be unbothered by the constraints of mere mortals. After sitting out four weeks near the end of the season, he returns to the lineup, plays six games, bats .389 (7-of-18) and shows he’s lost nothing.
Though Manny won the 2004 World Series MVP -- an award that should have gone to Keith Foulke -- some have regarded as him as not being very clutch. I had always maintained, in 2004 when Big Papi produced his walkoff heroics, that it was a shame that we may never know how clutch Manny Ramirez is. With Manny batting behind Ortiz, the game was always over before he had a chance to bat. For all we knew, Manny was even more clutch, he just never had the opportunity to prove it.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the game that with the two of them you have to "pick your poison" and it didn’t help that Ortiz has always hit the Angels hard and received incredible respect last night. He reached base in all five plate appearances, lacing a single and adding four walks.
If I were Scioscia, I’d have pitched to Lowell. Sure, intentionally walking Ramirez would have moved the winning run 90 feet closer to home, but with two outs, the speedy Julio Lugo would have scored from second anyway. Admittedly, Lowell has been Boston’s unsung hero this season -- well, as unsung as anyone who bats .324 with 21 HR and 120 RBIs can be -- but you take your chances there. Alex Cora said it best to Tom Verducci: "You have one of the best clutch hitters in the game, and a Hall of Famer hitting behind him."
Now the Angels, who have scored in only one inning this series, driving home three in the top of the third last night, have to mount a furious comeback and win three straight. There’s no better place to start than Edison Field, where they had the majors’ best home record at 54-27, an incredible .667 winning percentage. Of course, it bears mentioning that the Sox had the majors’ best road record, at 45-36.
Game 3 will showcase Jered Weaver, making his first career postseason appearance, against Curt Schilling, a many-time October hero with a lifetime 7-2 record and 2.06 ERA in the playoffs.
The Angels might just need a miracle.
It’s cliché because it’s true: that homer was just Manny Being Manny, writes Bob Ryan of the Globe. Or, as Boston Dirt Dogs says, That’s Just Manny Being Papi. Jack Curry of the NY Times reminds everyone that Manny is "a dangerous, dangerous man."
Sure, Manny grabbed the headlines, but Boston’s bullpen was as important, allowing no runs and just three baserunners in 4.1 innings. And, apparently, the relievers have nicknamed themselves "The Pirates" with Mike Timlin as the Admiral.
The anti-Steve Bartman is 17-year-old Danny Vinik, a son of Sox limited owner Jeffrey Vinik. He’s a second baseman for his high school and will never make a bigger catch.
ESPN.com’s Howard Bryant says the Angels made the right moves, despite the loss.
LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke writes that the Angels picked a bad time for an identity crisis.
Scioscia is confused by the schedule and why the Indians-Yankees played the earlier game yesterday.
Garret Anderson’s eye looks worse, but his vision is getting better.
The O.C. Register’s Mark Whicker says the Angels just can’t seem to win at Fenway, no matter the odds.
Never understated, the Globe’s Dan Shaugnessy invokes a 2004 reference in his third sentence.
Not to be overlooked was Dice-K’s decidedly mediocre performance.
Baseball-Reference has detailed info about the recent series between LA and Boston.
While diving for a ball in the second inning, second baseman Dustin Pedroia said his shoulder popped out, but that it popped back in and he had no pain after the game.
Labels: Angels-Red Sox
posted by SI.com | View comments |
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