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Home » 2007 PostseasonOctober 2007 » Scalped


ALCS Game 1: October 12, 2007
Indians 3 L: C.C. Sabathia (1-1) ALDS: 3-1
ALCS: 0-1
WinRed Sox 10 W: Josh Beckett (2-0) ALDS: 3-0
ALCS: 1-0
Highlights: I do not play “Dirty Water” before a win is official. It is not a rallying song; it is the imprimatur of an official win. Any other use of it should be frowned upon. I’m looking your way, Fox. Manny Ramirez joined Jim Palmer in baseball history despite Fox’s worst intentions; they are the only two players to have walked with the bases loaded twice in a postseason game.

So, of course Fox played the buoyant ditty after Mike Lowell's inning-ending double play in the first. It took a mocking tone in that context, even though the local nine had managed to tie the game with an array of sharp grounders and smoking ropes up the middle. Dustin Pedroia, sparkplug that he is, began by spanking a pitch right back to C.C. Sabathia.

Perhaps the close brush unnerved him. Perhaps, despite the dominance Sabathia demonstrated in his regular season campaign, he wilts in the postseason (for he should have lost his start against the Yankees in the ALDS but the Bronx Bombers bombed their chances). Perhaps he is more of the ilk of Roger Clemens in big games rather than Curt Schilling.

Whatever the reason, Sabathia was knocked around early; even his outs were the outcome of solid contact.

Josh Beckett most definitely is an adherent of the Schilling school of playoff pitching. Travis Hafner lofted a wind-aided four-bagger in the first inning, one of the few blemishes marring the young ace’s six innings of work. He struck out seven while surrendering just four hits and two earned runs. When he wasn’t whiffing batters, the defense behind him and the other pitchers shined.

Not only did Manny Ramirez (along with the indispensable David Ortiz) reach base safely in each plate appearance last night, but the left fielder also flashed some leather. Since his hat comes off with nearly every attempt, I’m tempted to calling it “capping it off.” Hats off to Manny!

Ah, goofy puns. He makes me feel and write silliness just seeing his giddiness since his return. After he hawked Kenny Lofton’s fly ball for the final out of the second, the look on Beckett’s face transformed from concern to contentment. Ramirez’s response? A sly smile and a knowing point.

Ramirez gave chase to Asdrubal Cabrera’s fly ball in the eighth. The attempt was reminiscent of his eighth inning error in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series, except this time he did not trust the fate of the play to the vagaries of the intersection of Fenway’s surface with his cleats. Instead, Ramirez stooped low while dashing for the orb. With just the thickness of a blade of grass to spare, Ramirez made the second out of the inning.

On Grady Sizemore’s fly to right, J.D. Drew stood without trepidation at the wall right near Pesky’s Pole, positioned to cradle the ball. No fan reached over like Jeffrey Maier did; if anything, one man with his extra large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee overreacted when pulling away from the field of play, splattering java on the right fielder’s shoulder. Not that Drew would complain; he certainly prefers beverages, even hot ones, to rain down on him rather than boos. (That’s Eric Gagne’s cross to bear now.)

Both these key defensive plays came after Casey Blake’s leadoff double. The Cleveland corner infielder scored as Ramirez did a Pedroia-like tumble before recovering, but no men followed him along the base paths.

A seven-run lead was big enough for Terry Francona to permit Beckett to take the bench with 80 pitches. Francona turned to Mike Timlin and Javier Lopez to maintain the lead; Timlin struck out Lofton and Lopez allowed a single run. Yes, a big lead is indeed soothing -- save for the fact that it means the former closer from Canada would take the mound.

I’ve taken to wearing a Bud Light box, à la Papelbon and a few fans in last night’s audience, when Gagne takes the hill. Except mine doesn’t have eyeholes.

At least now that the stakes are higher Francona doesn’t set Gagne up for failure. Eric Wedge inexplicably gave Boston a few swipes at Joe Borowski. Unless the Tribe’s manager has scuttled the idea of Borowski throwing in high leverage situations and will opt for more reliable arms (read: any other pitcher in the pen), the move has likely neutralized their closer for the remainder of the ALCS.

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