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Home » 2007 PostseasonOctober 2007 » Upswing


ALCS Game 5: October 18, 2007
WinRed Sox 7 W: Josh Beckett (3-0) ALDS: 3-0
ALCS: 2-3
Indians 1 L: C.C. Sabathia (1-2) ALDS: 3-1
ALCS: 3-2
Highlights: The faces of Cleveland fans in warpaint and framed by fake feathers fell ashen as their darlings failed to put away the Red Sox last night. Their defeat was welcome not only because it extended the series but also because it put a halt to the unremitting towel waving, wanton bigotry, and pointless percussion that fills Jacobs Field. Also, congratulations for ranking tenth in the AL in attendance with an average attendance of 28,098 a game in 2007; the stadium’s capacity is 43,345. Fenway Park attendance was fourth with an average of 36,676 per game while carrying a capacity of just 38,805 (for night games; slightly less for day games).

Furthermore, the Jake’s ground rules are open to interpretation and misinterpretation:

Fair batted ball that travels over the yellow line on top of the outfield wall (on the fly): HOME RUN.

“Over” to me does imply lack of contact and the parenthetical comment affirms this. It seems that Manny Ramirez’s shot to right kissed the line before caroming into the field. If the rule didn’t state “on the fly” then the hit was indisputably a circuit clout.

What is ridiculous, however, is to have a line as wide as the one in question on top of that wall; no umpire can make a reasonable judgment as to area of impact. Perhaps this is why there isn’t a specific ground rule for the red line at the top of the Green Monster.

Boston scored first for the first time this series by virtue of Kevin Youkilis’s soaring shot into the left field stands. As the ball disturbed the scurrying crowd I felt roots of worry that had so long laid tangled in the pit of my stomach shrivel. I knew that this series would return to Boston.

Red Sox batters squandered many opportunities, but there were at least baserunners rankling C.C. Sabathia and his trio of relievers in every inning but the sixth. The visiting club ground into three double plays in four different games this postseason. That trend was reversed with “just” a pair of rally squelchers last night, but they still tied the 1997 Baltimore Orioles’ record for most double plays in a League Championship Series.

Even as Grady Sizemore looped a providential double in a Bermuda triangle of defenders in left field and came around to tie the score, Josh Beckett’s countenance betrayed nary a whisper of insecurity. Placidly, he applied toe to rubber and proceeded to strike out 11 batters over eight innings. He could have tallied more if home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom was more assiduous in his duties.

Sabathia was also a victim of the umpire’s capriciousness, but absent poor officiating the Cleveland ace’s postseason performance continues to fall below his regular season magnificence. He was knocked out in the seventh after the homegrown duo of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis doubled and tripled with no outs.

Cederstrom did well to quell the flareup between Beckett and Kenny Lofton in the fifth. The pair had tangoed when Beckett was on the Marlins and Lofton on the Phillies. Last night Lofton did shake his head vigorously after getting ahead in the count 3-0 as if to say, “Nuh uh, you ain’t got nothing.” The next pitch was a called strike that had Lofton preemptively laying his bat over the dish.

To question a pitcher’s stuff is like deriding a painter’s brushes. Except you can’t aim a sable size six Filbert at someone’s tender spots at 97 MPH.

If a near run-in with Lofton did not unhinge Beckett, the presence of ex-girlfriend Danielle Peck would not either. The waitstaff of the nearest three Hooters, contestants of the Miss Ohio contest (Ohio representatives have won Miss America six times, tying California and Oklahoma for most wins!), and Hugh Hefner’s entire entourage could not have deterred Beckett from his appointed mission.

Jonathan Papelbon showed more emotion about Peck’s presence, astoundingly relating that how ironic it was that Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, could only conjure up a little-known country artist who just happened to have a prior history with the opposing team’s starting pitcher. Instructions for interpretation: imagine the italicized words accompanied by wide-eyed insinuation.

Papelbon may have worn his arms out while warming up to “YMCA” as his ninth inning did not go flawlessly. Unlike another reliever whose name I cannot bring myself to type without permanently damaging my MacBook, Papelbon did not wilt under pressure. If he gives up a double (as he did to Ryan Garko), he induces a ground out from a hot hitter such as Jhonny Peralta. Should he relinquish a walk to say, Lofton, he rebounds with a fly out to center to end the game off the likes of Franklin Gutierrez.

Tomorrow night the team returns to the Fens, back to welcoming fans with Bud Light boxes on their heads, hopes for a comeback in their hearts, and not a single piece of terry cloth mindlessly twisting.



I vey much enjoy your site and your excellent game summaries. Your analysis is always accurate and insightful, but best of all is your unique, eclectic perspective and humor.

Thanks for putting in the link to Danielle Peck's web site. I had never heard of her, but, after reading the bio on her site, she actually sounds like a nice person -- I wish her the best and maybe Beckett really did stay friends with her after the relationship. Even if the post-break-up relations were chilly, she should be warmer to Josh now. The publicity she earned is the kind that cannot be purchased -- it may be a key catalyst to her career.

Here's hoping the Upswing continues and the Rockies start worrying who they'll fly in to Denver if Beckett starts a game there.

Thanks for your kind words, Antony.

It is funny how people peripheral to Red Sox players attain greater fame than they would have on their own merits. Michelle Damon, I'm looking your way.

After last night's game, Manny's purple tie really does seem to be a harbinger of the team's destiny, not just a fashion statement.

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