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Home » 2007 PostseasonOctober 2007 » Peerless


ALDS Game 1: October 3, 2007
Angels 0 L: John Lackey (0-1) 0-1
WinRed Sox 4 W: Josh Beckett (1-0) 1-0
Highlights: A virtuoso performance by Beckett on the mound kicked off the Red Sox postseason run. It was his third complete game shutout in his seven playoff appearances. When asked about his tendency to come through in big games by Sean McAdam in the postgame press conference and whether he would like to be put in the same category as Curt Schilling and David Wells, Beckett said, “I think those are all things you should worry about when you retire, not really worry too much about them [now].”

The 2007 American League East Division Champion banner presided over Yawkey Way, serene and confident. Unlike me, who throughout the day felt pangs of panic in the pit of my stomach. As I drove home I heard the low moan of a lighthouse carrying through the gloaming, making my gut shudder all the more.

Josh Beckett, of course, is made of sterner stuff even with his newly-found self-contemplation.

Who would have thought that “introspective” would ever be an adjective to describe the Texan fireballer? In McAdam’s Providence Journal article the young pitcher talked about how he doesn’t get wrapped up in trying to get strikeouts any longer. The misguided single-mindedness that eroded his pitch count and shortened his appearances in 2006 has been refocused to stretching his effectiveness across more innings.

He is not overly thoughtful or tarrying, however. Unlike Carlos Zambrano’s Hamlet-like deliberation about the mound, Beckett was persistent and steadfast over nine innings. Like a lighthouse on a lone, fog-enshrouded isle, he guided his team to its first postseason victory since October 27, 2004.

The Angels were lucky to get the four hits they did. Chone Figgins led off the game with a rope past Dustin Pedroia that was this close to being snared before skipping into the outfield. Vladimir Guerrero slapped two hits, one in the seventh and another in the ninth, and Howie Kendrick also reached in the eighth. All the hits were singles.

Kendrick is a sophomore player who has already attained a measure of veteran subtlety. He duped home plate umpire Gary Darling in the second into thinking he fouled the ball off his foot. Rather than getting peeved at the gaffe Beckett rebounded, inducing fly out to center to end the inning.

Second base official Ed Runge also bungled a call in the second when he called Julio Lugo out on the shortstop’s steal attempt. Replays showed that Orlando Cabrera’s tag followed the contours of Lugo’s descending form but did not actually touch the Red Sox infielder before his foot toed the sack.

Kevin Youkilis broke free of late-season doldrums and injuries with a first inning shot into the the Monster seats. The first baseman added to John Lackey’s litany of futility at Fenway; he’ll probably start a “I Hate Fenway” website with David Wells. Youkilis also doubled in the third to set up a two-RBI shot for the Red Sox designated hitter.

David Ortiz crushed a hanger into the right field stands with his first baseman at the keystone bag. Where other parks see fit to provide fireworks to accentuate the game, the sole celebration necessary at Fenway are two fingers pointed towards the heavens accompanied by the pandemonium in the stands.

Not only are offensive contributions noted by the crowd but defensive gems as well. Coco Crisp struggled at the dish but charged a dying quail off the bat of Figgins to close the sixth. Fellow speedster Jacoby Ellsbury took over for Manny Ramirez in the ninth just in time to pluck Figgins of another hit.

TBS is an improvement over Fox, to damn a network with faint praise. The first at bat by Mike Napoli was missed at the top of the third, but one could blame the catcher’s impatience and Mike Lowell’s expertise. The announcing tandem, so unimpressed by Maicer Izturis batting fifth and inured to the three double plays the Red Sox grounded into, called a double play on Izturis’s ground out to end the seventh even though there were already two out.

But I, and millions more, would watch hours of Frank Thomas gazing awkwardly at his notes and Ernie Johnson’s attempts to transform Cal Ripken, Jr. into someone with Charles Barkley’s charisma if the guaranteed result was a Boston win. We sat through Chris Berman, Joe Morgan, Joe Buck, and Tim McCarver in 2004; the TBS team is Vin Scully and Orel Hershiser in comparison.

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