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Home » 2008 PostseasonOctober 2008 » Heavenly


ALDS Game 1: October 1, 2008
WinRed Sox 4 W: Jon Lester (1-0)
H: Justin Masterson (1)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (1)
Angels 1 L: John Lackey (0-1) 0-1
Highlights: Craig Sager donned a blazer as close to pink you can get without actually being pink along with an outrageous red paisley tie. It wouldn’t be a Boston postseason run without Sager searing our retinas. He graced the parquet during the Celtics’ championship run and now reports from the field for the Red Sox’s quest for an eighth title. Lester met and exceeded expectations with seven innings of tenacity: six hits, one earned run, one walk, and seven strikeouts

In the office I was walking on cloud nine thanks to Boston’s victory last night. In the universe of my mind the binary stars that tether my thoughts are the Red Sox and the election. Since talking politics at work is risky, my default conversation starter is baseball.

Surprisingly, the more-than-casual fans have not yet gravitated to the team. They were aware the ALDS started last night, but the time difference was enough to put off one of my acquaintances.

Another one of my friends is a big enough fan to use the name of our favorite team as an e-mail handle. I strolled in bleary-eyed and asked if she watched the game. She gave me an odd smile, replying, “In a way....”

Not yet in the mood to riddle with a sphinx, I excused myself to get some coffee. Some java would fuel me to engage in lively chinwagging.

I returned to my cube with vitalizing brew and fix my ailing laptop. As blue screens of death flashed across my screen my friend came by to talk about the boys.

“So, me and [name withheld to protect the embarrassed] were watching the game with my friends, but then we decided to go to the bedroom to flip between a New Kids on the Block special and the game.”

I made a joking grimace at the mention of the group’s name; she knew I was more of a Duran Duran or Cure girl than boy band fanatic.

“We thought it was kind of odd how Remy kept on raving about Ellsbury just being called up,” she continued.

“Wait a second,” I interrupted. “You do know that NESN doesn’t do postseason games?”

Her expression turned sheepish. “We were half paying attention to the game, since we were flipping back and forth.”

“Oh. My. God.” I was laughing very loudly, something I try not to do often so as not to disturb my fellow denizens of the cube farm.

Even while blushing she laughed. “It didn’t even occur to me until afterward that we had seen Manny come up to bat.” They had been watching a classic game on NESN, not the first game of the ALDS on TBS.

So for the rest of the day when I walked by I would say things like, “Yeah, I knew something was up when I saw Nomar in a Red Sox uniform adjusting his gloves....”

At least she spared herself the five innings of futility authored by the Red Sox lineup. For a long while it seemed that the Angels had at solved the riddle of how to succeed against Boston in a playoff game. Had they finally learned to harness the spirit that powered them to a 8-1 regular season record against their AL adversaries?

In all of those games, Angels pitchers never faced Jason Bay. How would the left fielder, a newcomer to October baseball, respond to the second season? Would he shrink in the face of pressure or blossom in the spotlight?

His soaring home run shot to left with one on and two out provided the resounding answer. Bay also doubled to Gary Matthews, Jr. with two out in the eighth but was stranded.

Unlike his cross-field opponent, Matthews faded in the spotlight. In the seventh, the Angels right fielder was positioned perfectly to field Jacoby Ellsbury’s rope. At the last second Matthews flinched, apparently blinded by the lights, allowing a three-base error to Ellsbury. In the box his results were no better: 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

In the top frame of the final inning Terry Francona showed that his team can manufacture runs just as the competition. Jed Lowrie led off with a single and was bunted over by Jason Varitek. Ellsbury singled to right to plate Lowrie and then proceeded to pilfer second. The center fielder advanced to third on Dustin Pedroia’s ground out and then scored on David Ortiz’s gut shot single.

Leave it to Francona and his team to crib a page from his adversary’s book and improve upon it.

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