The Red Sox just won’t go away, and their heart, character and ability — not to mention the very good Tampa Bay Rays — is making this American League Championship Series one of the best ever. Saturday night’s Game 6 was tense and tight, with long balls providing the bulk of the scoring and Red Sox starter Josh Beckett doing just enough to get to his dominant bullpen in Boston’s 4-2 win that forces tonight’s winner-take-all Game 7.
Here are a few blog-servations:
* The Rays’ bullpen needs a big rebound, but if starter Matt Garza can tap into the talent that makes him almost unhittable from time to time, the Rays won’t need the bullpen at all.
* Kevin Youkilis is starting to look like he did in the 2007 postseason. Even when he makes an out, which is rare these days, the ball is usually crushed. Expect big things from him in Game 7.
* Jason Varitek might have finally gotten into a groove with that home run, but more important for the Sox is the fact that David Ortiz looks like his swing is back. I’m still waiting for that magic Big Papi moment.
* Regardless of what happens in Game 7, we’ve got ourselves a heck of an American League East rivalry for years to come. Win or lose, the Rays have more than proved they’re for real.
What are your thoughts about Game 7 and beyond? Does the AL have what it takes to beat the Phillies in the World Series?
You always see something you’ve never seen when you watch an October baseball game, and Friday night was no different. Let’s recap Game 1 of the American League Championship Series and Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
PHILLIES 8, DODGERS 5
Who would have thought that Brett Myers would beat the Dodgers — with his bat? Without his 3-for-3 night and three RBIs, he might have lost that game. Instead, the Phillies head out to Chavez Ravine with a 2-0 lead, only two more wins from the World Series. And they’re doing it without much help from Ryan Howard, who’s due to get hot at any moment now. The Dodgers got a three-run homer from Manny Ramirez. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come for the boys in blue.
RED SOX 2, RAYS 0
Another first took place Friday night — the first October baseball game at Tropicana Field in St. Pete. It was great to see that yard packed to the gills, and for the Red Sox Fans who flew south, it was great to see Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson and Jonathan Papelbon shut down the Rays in a 2-0 victory that gave their team the upper hand with a pivotal 1-0 victory on the road. Matsuzaka was the man, as he’s been all year, striking out nine in seven shutout frames and repeatedly getting out of trouble. Offensively, it was Kevin Youkilis’ night, with three hits and the insurance RBI late in the game.
The Rays will try to regroup tonight with Scott Kazmir. I’m looking forward to seeing how this lefty stacks up against one of the best postseason pitchers alive, Boston’s Josh Beckett.
Who do you like in this matchup tonight?
I want to hear all about it.
I hope you all stayed up late to watch that epic game between the Red Sox and Angels. L.A. finally showed why they had the best record in baseball, breaking their winless streak against the Sox and getting one more shot in Fenway Park as they try to take that American League Division Series back to Anaheim.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day the White Sox did the same thing in their home park. Here’s a quick recap:
WHITE SOX 5, RAYS 3
Rays starter Matt Garza is young, talented and very emotional, and we saw that yesterday. We also saw that the White Sox are no joke. This is a team that won it all only three years ago and a team that’s always tough to beat at home. Monday’s game brings a lot of intrigue, as the Rays need to show they can win on the road when it counts. We all know how good they are at the Trop, but can they bring it at the Cell? And the White Sox, well, they’re just trying to stay alive. And they’re good at that.
ANGELS 5, RED SOX 4 (12)
Wow. What else can you say? There was so much going on that you could write a whole blog about this game alone. This series just got a lot more interesting, too. The Red Sox look banged up, with J.D. Drew, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell all playing hurt, but that 2-1 series lead and another game at Fenway make them seem a lot healthier in a hurry. The Angels just want to win one and get another shot at home. A rested and revenge-minded John Lackey should help.
How are your predictions turning out? What will the AL Championship Series look like?
Tell me what you think.
Everyone knows that pitching gets the job done in the postseason, and I’m here to tell you that you can bank on it playing out that way again this season.
Just check out all the pennant races cooking right now in the middle of August. Everywhere you look, the teams on top have the arms to get the job done. And once you’re in a best-of-five or a best-of-seven series? Forget it. Pitching is EVERYTHING.
So who’s going to be this year’s Bob Gibson or Jack Morris or Dave Stewart?
Who’s this year’s El Duque, John Smoltz, Fernando Valenzuela or Curt Schilling?
Maybe it’ll be Big Z in Chicago.
Maybe it’ll be K-Rod in Anaheim, just like in 2002.
Maybe it’ll be CC Sabathia, the new ace of the Brew Crew.
Or maybe it’ll be Josh Beckett, just like last year.
The bottom line is this: Someone is going to step up on the mound in a key situation, take that ball in his right or left hand, and use every single one of its 216 stitches to do something in October that nobody will ever forget.
And I can’t wait to see who that someone is.