The Angels left the bases loaded to end two innings. They left two on in three other innings. They gifted Boston 3 runs on a missed pop-fly. Teams like Kansas City and Seattle wipe the floor with you when you do that. But Team Lovable Nation was too busy tonguing its loving Fenway faithful right back to notice the gift of a game being handed to them by the Angels. Then it got late and they got served papers by a gutty bullpen and a catcher named Mike.
I thought we were dead when that pop-up dropped and this may be it, and if it is, it is slightly sweet, knowing that Chowd nation will all be late for work, or find out about the Angels win at work and have to rearrange their useless northeastern ice and sleet lives to see the game that will start late so that TBS can have ratings dollars from the well-tanned and rested west coast fans.
It would be nice to win tonight, it was nice to win last night, in the cold, wet Boston morning. Our faith has been restored, but even with their backs against the wall, John Lackey is the man you want to have on the mound and the pressure is where you want right where it is: on Team Lovable Nation. You know, the team that swaggered with a 3-run pop-up; the team that couldn’t wipe its a s s with the bases loaded against Francisco Rodriguez; the team that bowed and said “yes, master” to Jered Weaver in his first-ever relief appearance; the team that held Paul Byrd back in the pen.
We are the loose team now – the guys know that, win or lose, they are taking a plane ride back to the west coast, the sunny paradise of the USA. But for the Fenway Franks, Monday’s pressure cooker demands a respite from them having to visit Paradise Lost.
Most recent two Angels pitchers to win a postseason game:
Paul Byrd (10-11-05), Jered Weaver (10-05-08)
On Sunday night, actually on Monday morning, Terry Francona declined to call in Paul Byrd to the game. With Weaver the pitcher of record and Byrd watching from the bullpen, the franchise torch was passed.
Most recent two Angels to homer in a postseason game:
Orlando Cabrera (10-14-05), Mike Napoli, 2 (10-05-08)
Cabrera went 0-4 while his Chi-Sox team stayed alive in the other ALDS
Most recent two Angels pitchers to beat Boston in the postseason
Doug Corbett (born November 4, 1952) and Jered Weaver (born October 4, 1982)
SNAPPED: Boston’s 9 game postseason win streak
SNAPPED: Angels 9 game postseason losing streak
SNAPPED: Boston’s 11 game postseason winning streak vs. the Angels
Mike Scioscia understands the importance of pitching in assembling a team. His style is founded in reliable pitching for all situations in all innings. When the pitching holds up, he knows a lineup with healthy major leaguers that have a variety of skills will allow him to respond to each game situation accordingly. The game tonight made me think that CC Sabathia is more likely to be wearing an Angels uniform come January than Mark Teixeira.
Howie is seeing the ball better, his major league postseason rehab assignment looking like it is bearing fruit. Aybar finally gets a hit and it is the historical continuation of Bobby Grich driving in Jerry Narron for the 11th inning Saturday night win in Anaheim a week shy of 22 years ago.
One of the problems with always comparing players at the plate to their defensive counterparts is that it doesn't seem a stretch to note that Mike Napoli’s righty power batting with its all-or-nothing results flowing in hot-cold streaks reminds me so much of Troy Glaus at times. It seems odd that more people do not make this connection. It isn't THAT much of a stretch, is it?
What happened to major league baseball’s idea to make the games shorter by timing the starting pitchers and demanding a throw to the plate at regular intervals? Or insisting that batters remain in the batter’s box? Josh Beckett took his sweet time in between every pitch and just about every Red Sox batter did a ritualistic walk outside the chalk for a psych-up session after each pitch they saw. The game lasted 5 hours and 19 minutes because the Boston starter was given ample time to baby his owie and the Boston batters were allowed to clear their minds and become one with the universe of concentration.
The Angels won their 51st road game early Monday morning. If they can win their 52nd tonight, anything can happen.