AS 37,706 FANS IN FENWAY PARK stood, arms raised, and admired the baseball's majestic arc as it sailed over the Green Monster, another fan was doing the same in the batter's box. With Game 2 tied 3-3 in the ninth inning, Manny Ramirez turned on a 96-mile-per-hour inside fastball from Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez and then turned into a spectator himself, flipping his bat and stopping to bask in his game-winning three-run homer, seeming to forget his obligation to round the bases.
After the game Ramirez was sufficiently caught up in the excitement that he broke his seasonlong silence to reporters, admitting his struggles with injuries and saying, "I guess when you don't feel good and you still get hits, that's when you know you are a bad man."
In Boston's three-game sweep of Los Angeles, David Ortiz and Ramirez were very bad men indeed. The pair reached base in 19 of 26 plate appearances, and their combined on-base percentage (.731) is the highest in division series history.
The Red Sox packed a lot into a short series. There was dominant pitching (Josh Beckett's Game 1 shutout), an unlikely hero (17-year-old Danny Vinik), veteran guile (Curt Schilling's seven scoreless innings in Game 3) and an iconic moment (Ramirez's walk-off homer).
Beckett set the tone in Game 1 with his third career postseason shutout, in which he struck out eight, walked none and retired 19 consecutive Angels in a 4-0 win.
In Game 2 the banged-up Angels, who were lacking pop from ailing stars Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero and missing Gary Mathews Jr. altogether, stormed back to take their only lead of the series after Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up three runs in the second inning. Then the Sox caught a lucky break in the form of Vinik. With one out and two on in the fifth, Ramirez hit a foul pop to the right of the first base dugout that seemed destined for the mitt of catcher Jeff Mathis until Vinik, sitting in the first row with his father, Sox limited partner Jeffrey Vinik, plucked it out of the air. Ramirez later walked, enabling Mike Lowell to hit a game-tying sacrifice fly. Four Red Sox relievers combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings to set up Ramirez's ninth-inning heroics in the 6-3 victory.
The series moved to Anaheim for Game 3, where Ortiz and Ramirez kicked off the scoring with homers off Jered Weaver in the top of the fourth and Schilling, whose postseason winning percentage (.846) is the best among pitchers with at least 10 appearances, scattered six hits and a walk through seven innings. This was a craftier version of the former fireballer, who whiffed only four batters in throwing 76 of 100 pitches for strikes. The Sox exploded for seven runs off three Angels relievers in the top of the eighth to seal the series-clinching 9-1 win.
Boston was clicking on all cylinders as was Ramirez, who was not only producing but also willing to expound on his team's success at the plate. Said Ramirez, "Me and David, we're the best one-two punch ever."