Only three moments in my life match the way I feel right now 1) the birth of my son Ethan 2) my marriage to Elizabeth and 3) Game 7 of 2002.
Old highland is going to to give his unbiased
biased player ratings on Game 3 at Fenway on Sunday. I want to finish this off so that I can get drunk, so it might be a quickie. Keep in mind that big-game heroics carry a lot of weight, these ratings are for this game only, not the series ... so feel free to disagree. BTW, I said I was not going to hand out any 10s in this series, but .... tonight changed my mind. ~ highland
Ratings below the jump ...
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
Chone Figgins, 3B: When is the real Chone Figgins going to step up in the playoffs? This guy is starting to make me embarrassed about my signature and mancrush. No threat whatsoever till 2 outs in the 9th when his patient walk against Papelbon gave the Halos 2 runners on base in the ninth. Could have been a 2, instead, he's got ... Player rating :4
Bobby Abreu, RF: If anyone is more relaxed playing baseball I would like to know who it is. Worth every dollar the Angels paid him. Never rattled, worked pitchers as he always does and his double off the Green Monster in the last inning to cash in Aybar kept us in the game when we easily could have lost. Mistakes? I don't remember any. A .566 average in the playoffs without ever seeming to break a sweat is seriously impressive. Post-game quote: "When you never surrender anything can happen." (in English) Player rating: 10
Torii Hunter, CF: Great D in CF and his influence in the clubhouse cannot be underestimated. His danger factor led Francona to intentionally walk him in the ninth, which was about the most important command decision of the game. If they don't walk Hunter, Vlad doesn't get a chance to be the hero. Player rating: 8
Vladimir Guerrero, DH: These player ratings are subjective, not objective, but Vladimir Guerrero delivered one of the most important clutch hits in Angels history on his go-ahead single in the 9th inning. If that does not help cement his Hall of Fame credentials, it certainly cements his place in Halo history. Massive hit, making him an Angel legend. So clutch. Player rating: 10
Kendry Morales, 1B: Hit a bomb Where would we be without him? Left a lot of guys on base when he could have cashed somebody in. Based on this game alone ... Player rating: 6
Juan Rivera, LF: Juancho had a good game. A couple of solid hits and despite his complete lack of speed, hustled again. Turning into a guy why can rely upon, too bad he's so damn slow. Player rating: 7
Maicer Izturis, 2B: Not really a great game from the Boy King but the little Mouse is always a pest, simply because he plays the game of baseball so well. The Angels definitely got the right Izturis. Player rating: 5
Mike Napoli, C: Called a damn good game but this guy is in there for his bat, not for his work behind the dish. Player rating: 5
Erick Aybar, SS: Made to look silly in early at bats, but his at-bat (and hit) against Papelbon were almost as huge as
Guerrero's clincher. Showed maturity and how much he cares by playing Angels cheerleader after Guerrero's hit and after the end of the game. Can't remember him really being challenged on defense, but we all know that's not an issue. Player rating: 9
Scott Kazmir: Expecting him to step it up, but still not bad, and a tough assignment to shut down the Red Sox in a decider. Command was a bit of an issue, hence one strikeout versus 3 walks for a pitcher of his caliber. Can do better but not bad in his first playoff game for a brand-new team. Player rating: 6
Jason Bulger: Got jobbed by the ump and looks healthy. Player rating:7
Kevin Jepsen: Does this rookie have some balls. A rookie pitching in Fenway in the late innings. Dealt heat but was understandably wild. Player rating: 6
Darren Oliver: Only retired one batter but it was necessary. In the playoffs, outs are more important than runs. Does Darren Oliver have a nervous system or does he run with heroin in his veins? Rating: 7
Brian Fuentes: He never looks good but damn he got it done again. 48 regular-season saves, and this one was as big as any, particularly in contrast to Papelbon. How can you argue with an inning pitched in Fenway, no baserunners? His ninth inning was massive. Player rating: 9
Reggie Willits: Aggressive and did what he was ordered to do by Scioscia as a pinch-runner. But as a pinch-runner, taking too big of a lead and getting picked off is inexcusable. Looked like the cause was lost when he got picked off first. I love this player, but ... Player rating: 2
Gary Matthews Jr: Got screwed by the umpire if I recall correctly. Not enough P/T for a rating. No rating.
Jeff Mathis: Likewise. No rating.
NICK ADENHART: Looking on from above in Halos Heaven and he would have loved this one. Player rating: 10.
Mike Scioscia: Not a great game from the probable AL manager of the year. Too much cheese in his lasagna last night? Other than sticking to his guns, and being such a great man-manager and calm inspirational figure ... His decision to pitch to Lowell in the bottom in the 8th with first base empty really was really dumb. But in retrospect, who cares? Management rating: 6
BOSTON RED SOX
Other than saying, "enjoy golfing and fishing this October", here's what I remember. For such a "superior" team they sure are going home early.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: Great player but no influence. Solid defensively. Still one player I wouldn't mind having on my team. Player rating: 5
Dustin Pedroia, 2B: Pesky little bastard never gives up and drove in two runs to put the Sox on the board in the 1st against Kazmir. Hate him but would love to have him on our team. Player rating: 6
Victor Martinez, C: Caught and called another good game, but this guy was really irrelevant in this game other than his work behind the dish. Kept a shaky Buchholz calm, but not much of a threat with the bat for the No. 3 spot. I mean what other team has a worse No. 3 hitter other than the Royals? And maybe not even them. Player rating: 5
Kevin Youkilis: 1B/3B: Got to love this guy's willingness to cross the diamond and swap corners in a must-win game for the Red Sox, but otherwise basically did f---all. Except be ugly. Player rating: 4
Jason Bay, LF: Was this guy in the game at all? I can't recall, and my memory is not that short. Let's hope Tony Reagins never does enough crack to think that this guy is an answer to our OF needs in the offseason. Millions and zillions? Please no. Player rating: 2
David Ortiz, DH: Well, what can you say? Please retire Big Papi. Big hit in the 8th but is a liability because his fat ass had to pinch-run for by Joey Gathright. Turning quickly into the BoSox version of Mo Vaughn -- a bit fat juiced pile of stinking chicken tikka masala. Player rating: 3
Mike Lowell: 3B: Delivered some of Boston's few clutch hits. I like the Angels' 3B-man a lot more, who is more valuable in so many ways. Still, had a good game and never shows quit. Player rating: 6
JD Drew: Funny thing, my Angels fan friend from San Juan Capistrano confused him for JT Snow and said he wished he was still on the Angels. After that jack against Kazmir in the 4th to give the Sox a chance to get back in the series, I thought maybe he was right. Player rating: 7
Alex Gonzalez, SS: A glove. A body who sort of stands between the second base and third base bags. No influence whatsoever. I think the Red Sox were better with Orlando Cabrera at shortstop. Player rating: 3
Clay Buchholz: So-so from a guy who can have no-hitter stuff when he's on. Awfully young guy to have to take the ball in Game 3 of an elimination game. Not looking forward to facing him in the future however. Player rating: 5
Daniel Bard: Absolutely filthy especially for a rookie. Player rating: 8
Billy Wagner: Can do a hell of a lot better this for a guy with his experience and was not impressive. Rating: 4
Jonathan Papelbon: Exactly what you don't want out of your closer in a must-win game. Despite some VERY generous ball/strike calls by home plate ump Eric Cooper, could not get the job done. In a word, Papelbon sucked. Had no command and looked very nervous and one of two of these players are going to the Hall of Fame (Guerrero/Papelbon anybody?) On the other hand, there was a very pretty girl in a Papelbon jersey at the pub tonight, who was very respectful and congratulated the Angels fans for our win. She asked us to kick the Yankees' asses for them. Class. Maybe she should have pitched to Vlad. Player rating: 1.
Hideki Okajima: Got one out. No rating.
Joey Gathright: Pinch-runner scared the crap out of us and scored a run. Player rating: 6, which ain't bad for a sub.
Brian Anderson: Apparently this guy was in the game. I don't remember, so no rating..
Casey Kotchman: Defensive replacement. He would have had it, if the ball would have been hit to him. No rating for ex-Halos. Goatee is perfect for the Red Sox though.
Jed Lowrie: Does this guy even have a baseball card? No rating, even for a guy who can allegedly play shortstop.
Terry Francona: Much more imaginative than his Angels counterpart Mike Scioscia on this night. Managed the game right and pulled all the right strings, it's not his fault that Papelbon sucked. Had his team ahead 6-4 going into the top the ninth and had his team poised to get back into the series. Not sure what sort of man-manager he is because the Red Sox showed very little spirit in this series. Is that Francona's fault? Not sure. Managers aren't on the field unless there is a disputed call and Francona did his best. But his team are playing golf from tomorrow on. Management rating: 6
Estimated Red Sox average golf handicap: 18.7. Enjoy it boys.