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Archive for October, 2008

Dustin Pedroia : His Coaches know why he is MVP

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 31, 2008

THE MVP, THE COACHES, THE BAT

This post was written one week before Dustin Pedroia was announced as the winner of  the 2008 Al MVP Award.

Artists paint and musicians compose.  Artists do their thang.  It comes from inside.  Who knows why. Only those closest to Dustin Pedroia know what is driving him to be the competitive, overachieving pride of Woodland, California.

Something burns inside Pedroia.

Don’t take my word for it.  Read what his Woodland High School Coaches & A.D. have to say……

5 VS. 1 IS A FAIR FIGHT

The Woodland Athletic Director

JOHN MORELLI is the current AD at Woodland H.S. in Woodland, California and knew Pedroia even earlier.   John recalls that in Jr. High, Dustin played shortstop, may have pitched his first year, showed versatility, and shined like a star throughout his entire youth career.

Pedroia is a 2001 graduate of Woodland High School where he was a three-time All-Delta League selection, never hit below .445, and captured league MVP honors.  He took All State and area honors multiple times.

Woodland is a farming community of under 60,000 residents located west of Sacramento.

Woodlanders read the Bee, but more often read the Daily Democrat.  High school kids read The Orange Peal.  Their farms produce corn, wheat, sunflower —  and tomatoes that end up in your ketchup bottle.
Mr.Morelli has seen the current Red Sox second baseman & MVP-contender play occasionally on regular TV.  John does not have cable, which gives him a Thoreau-like balance most of us lack.

When John thinks of Dustin’s MVP possibilities he says that it’s just plain fantastic to have a young man from Woodland succeeding in MLB on the highest level.
John says the MVP talk comes up in the faculty lounges, at the football games, the volleyball games, and elsewhere around Woodland.

John says Dustin has raised Woodland’s profile & made everyone proud.  It’s not every day a Woodland kid hits the pro’s, although the town was made proud by Tony Torcato.  Torcato batted .298 in 43 Games as a lefty corner outfielder for The SF Giants between 2002 and 2005.

John says Dustin stood out from the start.  When bombardment was played in gym class, the teachers marveled at how Pedroia did simultaneously avoid a ball, catch a ball, and throw yet another ball to knock a player out.  ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Dustin’s coordination is so good that John Morelli was comfortable challenging him against a team of 5.

5 vs. 1.

Bombardment, in John’s opinion, is a good measuring tool and Dustin was one of the very best.

He never lost.

John says the scuttlebutt on Dustin in H.S. is just what it was in MLB, …he’s awful small, he hits well, he makes no errors, he reads situations well, he  runs well, he goes 110% all the time ……but it’s doubtful he will make it due to size…..

Based on what John Morelli knows of Pedroia’s 2008 performance and the competition for the award this year, the MVP has certainly been earned by DP in John’s mind.  He can’t imagine someone else taking it away.

HE NEVER GETS BEAT & IT’S C-O-N-T-A-G-I-O-U-S

The Woodland Assistant Coach

FELIX CASTILLO is the current Baseball Coach at Woodland.  He served as Assistant Coach when Dustin was there.  To Felix, Pedroia is a character guy.

Felix believes Pedroia is able to perform above his limited size, strength & speed due to his mental approach.  He has the talent, but he also has a contagious will to win.  Pedroia gets a team going in the right direction.  Anytime you can get a leader with his type of confidence and toughness it will be passed to his team mates.

With regard for the MVP consideration, Felix feels Pedroia’s numbers speak for themselves.  And when you consider that Manny Ramirez departed on July 31, it is even more remarkable how far Pedroia took the BoSox.  “I believe he’s got to be the guy who takes the MVP.”, says Castillo.

Felix suspects that what enables Dustin to perform above his limits is character. To paraphrase Felix:  It’s his confidence. He rises to the occasion, has mental confidence, Superstar guts.  Pedroia is driven only by winning so he plays with enthusiasm, and he never gets beat.  If he gets no hits in a game, he considers it a fluke.  And he’s big in a game 7 situation.

Felix touts Pedroia’s defense as phenomenal, endowed with incredible hand-eye, without great speed but with great range, has a knack for making plays you don’t see often, certainly deserving a Gold Glove Award this year.

How does Felix feel about Dustin as an MVP candidate ?  “It couldn’t  happen to a better guy.”
Felix’s best memory of a Pedroia performance is the famous Clovis game.  Rob Rinaldi will share the details next…….

HE WAS GOING TO FIND A WAY TO WIN.

The Baseball Coach

ROB RINALDI, Baseball Coach when Dustin was at Woodland, is eloquent about Dustin’s MVP credentials:  “Clearly I’m not objective…he should win…he’s a difference  maker in so many ways…..he’s an iron man while others get hurt…guys in the clubhouse see it and respect it…. He works long pitch counts and has the fire everyday……..last (rookie) year they were going to have him bat 9th and play defense and he went way above and beyond expectations….”

Rinaldi coached Dustin’s older brother, Brett.  Little Dustin came to Brett’s High School practices as a Little Leaguer.  As he took BP with the older boys, “he thought he was as good as the varsity guys, he wanted it at the same speed, and hit liners all over the field.  He was a Switch then, dabbling as a lefty hitter.”

Rob recalls that Dustin was the Quarterback of the Freshman Football team.  As a QB, Pedroia couldn’t run, but was a great leader.  Dustin broke his leg on the gridiron, so severely broke it that Dustin didn’t join Frosh Baseball until mid-year, and then he played hobbled.

Even hobbled, it took just two games for Rob to realize that Pedroia was the best among many good baseball players.  The injury ended Dustin’s football career and pre-empted one as a basketball point guard, another position at another sport for which he showed promise.

Outstanding among the memories at Woodland High was Dustin’s performance in a game against Clovis at the 2001 National Classic, the biggest High School Baseball Tournament of them all.  Clovis had already won two mythical National titles & were inherently regarded with respect.  Clovis had an extremely talented shortstop that Rinaldi had coached in camp the prior year.  All year long, Rinaldi told Pedroia that the Clovis shortstop was of the highest caliber, building up the kid for 12 months until the day Clovis and Woodland checked into the same hotel before playing in the National Classic Consolation Game.  Rinaldi said that when Pedroia learned the Clovis shortstop was in the house he blurted, “Which guy is he ? Go get him right now. I want to take grounders in the parking lot against him.”

The competitive fires burn with this guy.

Rob recalls that the Clovis kid had a great game.  But the game Pedroia had was singular.  First, Dustin put his team up 1-0 to the shock of the other team by scoring on a tag up from 3rd on a foul pop caught in front of one of the dugouts.  Who the tags up and beats a throw from 90 feet ?  A heady play. Next, with Woodland down 3-1 in the top of the 7th (and final) inning,  Pedroia hits a 3-run homer to create a 4-3 lead.   Last, in the field for the final 3 outs in the bottom of the 7th, Dustin starts a difficult double play, and then registers the 3rd out, closing out Clovis.

He was going to find a way to win.

He was going to show that Clovis kid who was better.

Rob makes the point that while Pedroia is the picture of competitiveness on the field, away from the field he is a great guy….no conceit or arrogance.

Bring him to Boston.  Let him do his thang.  Before you know it, he’ll be running the place.

The College Coach

ASU's Pat Murphy

ASU's Pat Murphy

I regret to say that schedules didn’t permit ASU Coach PAT MURPHY to speak with me, but Murphy graciously answered a few questions by email.

Question: Why is it Pedroia is able to perform above his limited size, strength & speed ?

Coach Murphy: Because his belief system is the best.

Question: What are your thoughts about Pedroia getting MVP consideration this year ?

Coach Murphy: He will win it.
Question: What is the most memorable performance or event involving Pedroia at ASU ?

Coach Murphy: Not just one! He was awesome for 3 years, every day.

A FEW QUESTIONS THAT REPEAT AND REPEAT

Athomeatfenway.com is repeatedly asked several questions about Dustin Pedroia.  The questions pertain to Dustin’s ethnicity, and the specs of the bat he swings.  Here are some reactions from the Coaches.

WHAT BAT DOES DUSTIN PEDROIA SWING ?

There’s a mystery about Dustin’s lumber.  Listed at 5’9”, assumed widely to be 5’6” tall, his bat looks disproportionately large for a small player.  With his height in dispute, speculation on bat specs become uncertain, too.

The Coaches, who should know better than anyone, made educated guesses.

Felix Castillo:  32 or 33 inches long weighing 30 oz.
Rob Rinaldi: 32.5 inches long weighing 31 oz.
Coach Murphy: 33 ½ inches in length, weighing 31 oz

Based on a little inside info from Rob, I’ll bet on the Rinaldi answer.

DUSTIN PEDROIA :  ETHNICITY

We get questions like “Is Dustin Pedroia Italian ?” every week presumably from fans who are Italian themselves and hope to confirm they share the same heritage.  In various conversations with Woodland folk who know Dustin, the speculation is that he is of Spanish, and/or Portugese and/or Italian heritage.

He’s the quintessential American then, isn’t he ?

Well, that clears it up.  Doesn’t it ?

PEDROIA OR HAMILTON

Josh Hamilton had a terrific year.  He topped Dustin in RBI, homers, triples, BB, Slugging & striking out.  Dustin beat Hamilton in B.A., Hits, Runs, doubles, stolen bases, sacrefice hits and to the bad side, grounding into double plays..  The Stats:

Hamilton played for team without a pitching staff.

Dustin carried a team that suffered a frequent lack of timely hitting.  He fueled the Sox after Manny left.

Hamilton is a basher, and basher’s get the benefit of the doubt with MVP voters.

Hamilton’s personal story is one of addiction-recovery and religous-discovery over the 3 years.

Pedroia’s personal story is one of achieving beyond all expectations for a lifetime.

Hamilton is worthy of MVP votes.

But he’s no Dustin Pedroia.

What we see with Pedroia is like what we saw with Tony Gwynn.  Gwynn lacked the body and speed to be a HOFer & Batting King, but he sure did do it.

Pedroia may be in the process of defining the post-steroid All Star.  We’ll soon find out. His canvas is just partially completed.

Although none of his Coaches can be charged with impartiality, they are nonetheless correct.

The little guy has got to be the MVP.

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, RED SOX | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

HAIL TO THE RAYS

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 20, 2008

Lucky at Love, Lucky at the Baseball Wars, too, evidently

As much as it hurts to see Dustin, David and Jon go down with the rest of the Sox, I am compelled to tip my cap to the Rays.

The Sox were zotzed in game 7 by a measley 2-run margin by a team that is every bit as good as they are.

The Rays infield, though star studded w Longoria & Pena,  is no match for ours.  They can hit with us.  They can’t field at our level.

Their catcher is better than ours.  Send me a fish wrapped in a bullet proof vest if you must, but accept the fact that our beloved 36-year-old leader is not as well rounded as Dioner Navarro.

Their starting pitchers are equal to our own.  No question.

Their outfield isn’t as good as ours is in the corners, but what they lack in fielding they make up for in power hitting that our outfielders do not have.

Bullpens ?  I love them both.  How in the hell did two so talented bullpens get assembled and located in the same division ?

Even-steven in many ways, there was certainly a tie breaker:  Matt Garza.

This talented guy is a major pain in my ass.

Matt Garza is a major pain in my ass.

Matt Garza whipped the Sox, period.  Yes, he could not stop Pedroia from reaching base 6 times in 9 at bats.  Yes, he walked some, hit some, and wiggled out of self-created jams.

But overall, he made terrific pitches to places on the black (or just off) at high speeds with movement.  In the jazz lexicon, he is a bitch or a monster.

He grabbed his axe and put a fork in us.

He slew us with bordello music.

But Jazz isn’t his thing.

He’s a Tupac fan.

I guess we should have BELO for his bammer.

Posted in ALCS, BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, RED SOX, Tampa Bay Rays | Leave a Comment »

ALCS: Playing with house money

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 19, 2008

 

 

Oct. 19 6:00 PM EST

 

 

IT DIDN'T GO AS THIS KID PLANNED.

IT DIDN'T GO AS THIS KID PLANNED.

 

Three-quarters of my Red Sox cronies had tickets to an ALCS game at Fenway. 

 

We were drooling on Monday morning, Oct. 13.

 

The Sox had split two in Tampa.  Negating the Ray’s home field advantage was a tremendous plus.   Now, our little Connecticut group would be there for the first two Fenway games.

 

Cassidy and I would bring the mojo on Monday and we’d go ahead 2 to 1 in games.

 

Nick and Mike would be there to curse the Rays on Tuesday, giving the Sox a commanding 3 to 1 lead.

 

Oh, brother.

 

Cassidy and I rolled into Boston before noon on the 13th. 

 

 

The service at Legal Seafood was an A+.  The coincidental placement of 5 Rays fans at the table next to us was wonderful.  These Tampa-ites (Tampaneans ?) were primarily male and of middle age.  One of them was loud, slightly boastful, but non-controversial.  He probably hadn’t been a Rays fan for more than two weeks and hadn’t learned any zingers.

 

 

Much warmer in Tampa.

Much warmer in Tampa.

At 2 p.m., we conversed with the media photogs near the visitors on-deck circle.  These photogs are knowledgeable sports fans.  They knew Hinske was off the roster but was traveling with the Rays.  They knew that the Rays were a distant fourth at home to SEC Football, the NFL and the NBA.  They knew that their last minute addition to the press entourage meant their newspapers were trying to save a buck.

 

 

And there 20 feet from us was Joe Maddon, peering from behind the portable batting cage during BP.   He looked relaxed and confident, hands tucked into the pockets of his hoodie.  Joe exuded nonchalance in the festive post season atmosphere.

 

But what was Maddon thinking ?  And what did he know ?

 

Like us, did he think that anything could happen ?

 

You’ve got to admire this guy.  He’s clever, bright, and not pre-packaged.  Manager of the Year.

 

AT 4 p.m., we settled into our seats in bleacher 42, on the aisle.

 

In the top of the first, Lester fired two 94 mph fastballs to Iwamura, inducing a ground out to Cora at short. Upton grounded unassisted to Kotsay at 1st on another fastball.

 

Pena then flew out to Ellsbury in center on another heater.

 

Oh, boy, I thought.  Three outs on 4 pitches.  Lester is in no-hitter form today.  I wiped the drool off my UConn jacket.

 

I continued to salivate in the bottom of the first when Pedroia hit a wall ball double off Garza on a 1-2 fastball.

 

The drooling soon stopped.   We didn’t score.  Then, in the top of the 3rd,  Upton and Longoria jacked homeruns into a 17 mph wind and the Monster. 

 

Those bashes came shortly after “Tek stranded two runners in scoring position the prior inning.

 The ‘Tek strikeout was hard to watch.

Garza turned his heater up to 97 mph just for the old catcher.

 

Our recurrent lack of clutch hitting was followed by fearless, confident swinging by the Rays’.

 

The Rays scored 4 times in the third after scratching out one earlier run in the second.  End of 3, we were down 5 – zip.

 

Garza would allow runners every inning he pitched but would allow no runs.  That’s the  price we paid for not getting to him early when we had the chance.

 

Lester would pitch until there were two gone in the sixth and yield no more runs.

 

The Fenway crowd was as quiet as a church mouse by the end of the 4th inning.  And cold.  BY the 6th, it was C-O-L-D. 

 

I have been here for some bitter losses including season-enders, but I have NEVER EVER heard the Fenway crowd silently contained before.

 

 Byrd came in later and gave up 4 more runs and the outcome was 9-1.

 

The next night, Nick and Mike watched Wakefield, one of the best pitchers in Sox history, throw grapefruits as if in batting practice.  A 13-4 laugher gave the Rays the commanding 3 -1 lead in games.

 

Surely, the youngsters from Tampa were staging a coup.

 

The life was sucked right out of the crowd.

 What This Series Has Now Come to Be

We think we know the Rays.  But, they are still becoming what they are — right before our eyes.

 

These two teams are so evenly matched there is no way to see a clear favorite. 

 

And now the Sox have erased the Rays’ 3-1 advantage at home when they triumphed in games 5 and 6.

Pummeled in games 3 & 4.  Victors in games 5 & 6.

 

Anything can happen.   When we went down in those first two games at Fenway, we all but lost the ALCS.  When we came within 7 outs of losing the Series before rallying on Thursday, we had pushed all of our chips in.  And had lost.

 

The Rays lacked the killer instinct.

 

The Sox are steady poker players.

 

We are playing with house money now.

 

And anything can happen.  

 

Anything.

 

 

 

 

Posted in ALCS, BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Matsuzaka | Leave a Comment »

ALCS: Now even, Sox will take 3 of 4 next

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 12, 2008

Oct. 12, 2008

 

Tacky Tampa Fans Will Not Taste The Bubbly

Tacky Tampa Fans Will Get Zero Bubbly (AP photo)

 

 

The ALCS is now a best-of-5 Series. 

First team to take three games this week goes to the Series.

 

Let’s review what we learned from the six head-to-head games played in September by the new-look Mannyless Sox vs. never-say-die Rays

 

 

·        There will be low scoring games

·        There may be extra innings

·        Put Timlin in late with risk

·        There will be strong starting and relieving from both teams

·        There may be stretches of no hitting by the Sox with RISP

·        David Ortiz should continue to hit at .250 and he may power up

·        Jason Bay will star

·        The Rays are resilient

·        Every Game is pivotal

 

 

 

Rays take September 4 games to 2

 
 

rays.com

Andy Sonenstine (rays.com)

Sept. 8 to 10 Boston 

 

TIGHT GAME:  EARLY RUNS MAKE DIFF

 

Sept. 8 – For the 13th time in 13 games between Bos & TB, the home team wins..

Lester and Papelbon shine.  Edwin Jackson sparkles, too, only losing as the Sox get a walk and two hits including a Bay HR to score 3 in the first.  After that, Jackson and Howell are lights out.  We win 3 – 0.

 

PAP BLOWS IT:  CLOSER NULLS BAY’S 8th Inn HR

 

Sept. 9 – Dice K labors but again yields little, giving the Sox a chance to rise up.  And it happens !  After Kazmir allows just 2 runs in 6 IP, Wheeler yields a 2 run HR to Bay in the Bottom-8th to take a 4-3 lead.  And Pap, the automatic, needs only to record 3 outs in the 9th.  BUT, he fails.  Pap gives 2 runs and we lose, 4 – 5.

 

 

TIMELY HITTING FAILS:  TIMLIN ENTERS WITH GAS CAN

 

Sept. 10 – The Sox fail to score.  They strand 5  (3 in scoring pos.) in innings 10,11 & 12.  Then, Timlin enters & allows a 3 run HR.  Sox then load the bases in the Bottom-14th, but squander the opportunity.  The bullpen shined and Beckett was very good.  Sonenstine sparkled.  Sox left 16 LOB.  We lose, 2 – 4

  

 Sept. 15 to 17 Tampa

 

 

SOX BITCH-SLAP KAZMIR

Sept. 15 – Had Chris Smith not given up two 2-run HR’s to The Rays in one inning, this 13-5 laugher would have been a 13-1 shellacking.  Dice-K and the bullpen (other than Smith) are terrific.  Sox hit 4 HR’s.  We win 13 – 5

 

BOTH STARTERS GEMS:  MASTERSON YIELDS LOSING RUN

 

Sept. 16– A flat out gem is tossed by both Beckett and Sonenstine.  At the end of 8 Innings, it’s a 1 – 1 tie.  Masterson victimized in ninth by a soft fisted single, a BB after a recalled strike call, and a HBP.  We lose, 1-2.

 

WAKEFIELD DOESN’T HAVE IT

 

Sept. 17 – Three HR’s allowed by Wakefield gave TB all they would need since the Sox would muster only 6 hits and 3 runs, all 3 on 2 hr’s by Ortiz.  Sox trot out Hansack, Smith, even Pauley in relief.  That’s the bottom of the barrel.  A default.  We lose, 3 – 10.

 

 

 

These two teams are evenly matched.  For the Sox, it’s the second consecutive series of playing a postseason opponent just as good as they are.

 

The Rotation

 

Sure, we don’t know this for sure, but the starters could be as follows:

 

Fri  Shields v Dice K  (win)

Sat  Kazmir v Beckett  (loss)

Mon Garza v Lester

Tue Sonnenstine v Wake

Thu Shields v Dice K

Sat Kazmir v Lester

Sun Sonnenstine  v Beckett

 

 It comes down to Lester & Matsuzaka

 

Speed against speed.  Solid starters & effective relievers on both sides.  Youth is just a tad on the Ray’s side.  There are no dominant power hitters on either team.  Lady luck has been with the Rays in the close games, but luck is a pendulum.  Stealing one in Tampa on Friday the last is a real advantage.

 

 

Expect the Sox take it in 6 on Saturday Oct. 18 as Lester wins 5 – 2.  Lester and Dice-K contribute all 4 of the Sox wins in this Series.  No game 7.   Our #1 & #2 starters MUST provide quality starts for the Sox to have a chance.  And both of them are hot right now.

 

And our hitters have to produce against Sonenstine, Shields and Garza.  I’m confident they will hit Kazmir.

 

All that said, I wouldn’t preclude Wakefield from disrupting this prediction by shutting the Rays down on Tuesday.

 

What do you think ?

Lester now at the Height of His Game  (AP)

Lester now at the Height of His Game (AP)

Posted in ALCS, BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, RED SOX, Tampa Bay Rays, Terry Francona | Leave a Comment »

Josh Beckett a bore; Angels 5 Red Sox 4

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 10, 2008

  
 
 
 

Stephen King a bad omen

Stephen King a bad omen

Horror Show starts with Stephen King

Cassidy and Johnny V. scooted down to the field near the Sox dugout to watch Heidi Watney interviewing someone in pregame.  Not much was happening under a chilled & blue Fenway sky.

 

Two young ladies pointed 15 feet away to the second row of Field Box 34.  One said, “There’s Stephen King.”

 

Sure enough, there he was.  Gigantic head skootched under a non-MLB ball cap, relaxed, chatting with his buddy.

 

“Wow ! I’ve got to get his autograph”, I said, knowing the wife would be pleased.

 

“He’s not going to sign.”, the petite, raven haired 20-something gal said.  “He wouldn’t sign for us.”

 

Bullsheet, as El Tiante would say.  I had to  try.

 

Thinking of how to get his attention….

 

Stephen, my wife goes to bed with you every night.  Would you sign this for her ?

 

Or,

 

Stephen, how come we don’t see you speaking at the Bookfest in D.C. ?  We get stuck listening to bores like Salman Rushdie.  Hey, sign this for my wife ?

 

Or,

 

Stephen…Stephen…my wife is in treatment…..would you…could you…sign this for her ?

 

I went legit.  I tried the the Bookfest angle.

 

King glanced at me, “Not going to D.C..  Been there, done that.”

 

“Oh, I see.  Would you sign this for my wife ?”

 

He shook me off like he was shaking off a fastball for Vlad Guerrero.  He broke eye contact.  

 

Being famous has got to be a bitch.  Putting up with wife-pleasing, beer-clutching fans is a burden.

 

That poor rich bastard.

 

I did snap 2 photos of King, however.  And one of the young ladies, at the prompting of Cassidy, said she’d email me a photo of herself in a bikini if I’d email her the photo of King.

 

I promptly lost the email address she had scribbled and pressed into my hand.

 

Things were off to a bad start.

 

 

Slowing twisting in the wind…upside down

 

 

Beckett struck out two and induced a grounder to Pedroia to record 3 crisp outs in the 1st. 

 

Josh K’d Anderson on a curve.  He whiffed Teixeira on a 93 mph cutter.

 

But, there was also a double to Figgins, a single to Hunter and walks to Vladi and Rivera – before that inning ending ground out to Dustin.

 

With 30 pitches to 7 Angels in the first, Beckett set the tone for an excruciatingly long game.

 

5 hours and 19 minutes long.

 

In this freakish contest, the Angels out hit us 16 to 7 while scoring just 5 times.

 

Platoon catcher Mike Napoli crushed two homers.

 

Napoli broke the tie, scoring the game winning run in the 12th inning.

 

Before Napoli’s first HR, the Angels had played 68 innings in the post season without one.

 

The Sox snapped their long winning streak in elimination games, dating back to the 2004 ALDS.

 

The Angels snapped an 11 game losing streak to the BoSox in the post-season.

 

The Angels misplayed a pop-up into a 3-run single for Ellsbury.

 

It was the first 3-run single in post-season history.

 

Beckett yielded four runs, nine hits, four walks, and struck out six in five innings. His postseason ERA nudged from 1.73 to 2.09.

 

The Sox did have opportunities. 

 

They left the bases loaded in the 10th.

 

Dustin, Bay and Jed dotted the frame with 2 whiffs and a fly ball out.

 

And perhaps hardest to watch of all, Dustin went hitless again.  He is 0-for-13 in three A.L.D.S. games.

 

Our best hitter didn’t hit. 

Our post-season stud couldn’t locate.

Our hunger for the kill evaporated.

 

 

I don’t know when Stephen King checked out.

We left Fenway at 12:40 a.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in ALDS, angels, BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Angels, RED SOX, Stephen King, World Series | Leave a Comment »

Prediction: Sox stun Angels in ALDS Sweep

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 1, 2008

 

redsox.com

redsox.com

 

 

Lester, Beckett, Wakefield Star

 

Oct. 1, 2008

6 p.m. EST

Red Sox Nation

Suffield, Ct.

 

 

Game 1:  3-1 Sox

Game 2:  5-4 Sox

Game 3:  6-3 Sox

 

 

On the early eve of the ALDS, the Sox do not have the Angels exactly where they want them.

 

The National Media is leading with the injury angle.  The Sox are banged up and the Angels are not.  Thus, with the Angels taking 8 of 9 from us this year, Vladimir & Co. must be the better team.

 

The Vegas odds makers agree.  The BoSox are solid underdogs in the first two games.  Lackey and Santana have the edge.

 

Fortunately, it all will not come down to who has the fewest injured players.  It will come down to what the healthy players do on the field.

 

Momentum.  Chemistry.  Motivation.  That’s what it’s all about. 

 

And Parts.  You got to have the parts.

 

HOME AND AWAY

 

The Sox are lucky to be catching Lackey and Santana at home.

 

Lackey’s ERA away is 3.23.  At home it is  4.29.  Lackey’s ERA against lefties is 2.59.   And 5.07 against righties.  With 3 switch hitters in our line up, we can send 6 righty hitters.  Make that seven if Lowell plays.  Also consider that 4 of Lackey’s last 5 starts have been less than quality.    I like getting Lackey now in Anaheim.

 

Santana has been excellent in 3 of his last 5 starts.  But he got spanked in the two sub-par starts by the Rangers and the Yankees, both of whom have star studded line-ups that can generate runs. Just like us.  (Yes, just like us  — when we are getting timely hitting.)

 

And both of those September beat downs of Santana came in ANAHEIM. 

 

Santana excelled in September against Seattle (twice) and Detroit, teams that both finished last in their division.

 

Media Hype Distraction

 

The talk around the Cali baseball scene is about a potential Highway Series between the Angels and Dodgers.

 

Today an LA Times columnist is shouting, “MANNY KNOWS HOW TO HAVE FUN, AND HE KNOWS HOW TO WIN !”

 

Hollywood ?  Mannywood.

 

Mike Golic joined the pickers picking Dodgers vs. Angels today.

 

Thank you, electronic media, for underestimating the Sox, moving the discussion to a context that will never happen, and lowering expectations.  The injured Sox are flying a little lower on the radar.

 

Great.  Let these visions dance in Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick’s heads.

 

Meanwhile, David Ortiz is thinking, “Now we gotta do what we can do.”.

 

I think that David means We are bad muddafukas. We throw an adrenaline switch when we reach the playoffs.  We become the creature. Then we do what we can do.

 

 

 Let the media paint the Sox with defeat.  Go ahead.

 

THE LINE UPS

 

It is dangerous to underestimate the Angels.  One flight around their depth chart reveals a proficient MLB hitter at every non-pitching position except catcher, where Jeff Mathis bats 30 points lower than Jason Veritek.

 

Whoa, what a line up of hitters.  Hunter, Guerrero, Teixeira, Kendrick, Aybar, Figgins, Anderson.  Mathis.

 

These hitters should be feared on the same level as the White Sox, Yankees and Rangers in terms of pure hitting talent.

 

Shit.  These guys are good.

 

*************.

Then again….

 

Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, Youk, Bay, Casey, Lowrie, Tek, and Crisp.

 

If anyone doesn’t believe our 9 is as good as their 9, they need to calm down.

 

They have a little more outfield pop than us.  We have potential gold glovers to offset that.

 

Let’s call it a draw.

 

Momentum Case:  Them

 

Who-is-hot and who-is-not is a huge factor.

 

The Angels won 17 of 26 games in September, a sterling .654 win pct. in the final month.

 

9 of those wins came against last place clubs and 4 more came against a team without a pitching staff  Texas.

 

The Seattle wins point up the fact that the Angels play in the weakest Division in the A.L..  They were the only AL West team that won more than they lost.

 

In September, they were 12-5 against the West, and 5-4 against the other divisions.

 

Think they’d have won 100 games if they had to play the Yankees, Jays & Rays a total 57 times ?

 

 

Momentum Case:  Us

 

The Sox in Sept. were 16 – 10.   We drilled Baltimore and Texas.  We played up to the Rays’ level in Tampa but lost two heartbreakers and a 3-game series down there, 2-1.  Then we lost a Series 2-1 again to the Rays the following week.

 

 

We won 5 of 8 series in the month, dropping the aforementioned two to Tampa and the last rain-marred Yankee series.

 

We were 4-3 the last week of the season.

 

We were 12 W – 8 L against teams with .500 or better records.  5-1 with teams under .500.

 

It was a very good month in black and white.

 

The feel and the touch of it was, however, much better than that.  Our middle relief hiccupped against the Rays, turning an 18-8 month into 16-10.  We could been heading into the playoffs having won 11 of 12 series that stretched from August into September.

 

And we were red hot in August.

 

That’s a damn strong case for momentum before we even throw the mojo switch.

 

“Now we gotta do what we can do.”.

 

 

Head to Head

 

THE FLU, THE QUALITY START & THE PAULEY

 

April 22 to 24

  • Pauley, our worse starter, starts and we win 7-6.  How ironic.
  • Lester is subpar on 4 days rest spotting up for a flu struck Dice-K, we lose 4-6
  • Masterson makes his MLB debut w a GEM, but DelCarmon and Lopez blow it, yielding 4 runs, we lose 5-7

BUCHHOLZ FADES, & HITTING FAILS

July 18 to 20

  • Buchholz continues to fall apart, gives 8 runs, we lose 3-11.
  • Beckett pitches a complete game GEM, but gives up a homer, a seeing eye single & a dying quail in the 7th…we lose 2-4.
  • Wakefield gives a quality start, but we suffer a lack of timely hitting, out-stranding the Angels 7 – 2 in LOB’s, and we lose 3-5.

IN A MANNY FUNK, WE PLAYED LIKE POOP

July 28 to 30

  • Matsuzaka, who would lose only twice all season, gives up two HR’s scoring 5 runs to take the L as the gopher ball takes us down 5-7.  Dice K would go on to yield only 12 HR’s all season, at a rate of about 1 HR every 3 games.
  • Buchholz continues to distintigrate, allowing 6 runs in 6 innings.  Pedroia singles and Youk HR’s in the 9th to break up Lackey’s no-no. We lose 2-6.
  • Beckett is awful.  We commit 4 errors. We lose 2-9.

 

 

Let’s Be Bullish !

 

Fellow Soxaholics, let’s expect nothing less than a terrific two games in L.A., and let’s expect to win.

 

The peculiarities of the nine games against the Angels this year were aberrations.

 

Aberrations.   Dammit.

 

We’ll kick their arses.  A sweep, I say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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