2008 ALCS: Wow. Game 7 tomorrow.

I don’t know how many times I have to see it before I’ll believe it, but our Sox have come back yet again from a 3-1 deficit against a good team. No matter what the situation, Boston has stayed loose and played their way into game 7 of a series where they looked totally lost just two games ago. Heck, before THE bottom of the 7th at Fenway, who thought they could pull it off?

About that comeback. The defining moment for the Sox, and the reason we’re defending World Champions. It wasn’t done all in one frame, not in two frames, but three straight innings. David Ortiz, nursing that problem wrist, turned around his postseason in one swing. Coco Crisp, forgotten on the bench for most of the year, came back and contributed a classic at-bat. J.D. Drew came up huge for the second straight ALCS. Everyone played up to their potential for three magical innings, and here we are.

Who says experience doesn’t matter in the playoffs? We’ve watched the young Rays fumble around with 5 errors over the past 3 games, make baserunning mistakes and mental blunders, and even Joe Maddon is tempting the fates, leaving J.P. Howell in to face Kevin Youkilis with two on, two out in today’s game. I’ve seen him stay with Howell against righties just so he can keep him in to face one more lefty batter, and he hasn’t been burned yet.. But he will. I think that’s how we win game 7, actually. Either Youk or Jason Bay will get a clutch hit off of Howell because Maddon will stick with him too long.

As for today, big props to Josh Beckett on his gutsy five innings, for refusing to use the injury excuse, for adjusting his approach to succeed with his stuff, for clearly pitching through pain, and doing it all under the pressure of a must-win game 6. Now the Sox are poised to ride on Jon Lester’s shoulders back to where they belong. Shame on you who doubted the Beckett.

Crisp reached four times today, though I still don’t really like the way he swings the bat. He just looks jumpy and weak up there. But he’s getting it done, and that should earn him another start. Jacoby Ellsbury should be ready to pinch-steal tomorrow night. The lineup did an awesome job waiting James Shields out and forcing him to leave after just 5 2/3 IP.

All of you who were criticizing the Captain, just shut up. Jason Varitek is not the hitter he once was, but he is fine offensively for a catcher. No more stupid talk about pinch-hitting for him in the 5th inning.

I want to know what John Farrell said to Justin Masterson on the mound, because he went from being unable to throw a strike to the pitcher we all know he can be. Great job of picking yourself up, Justin.

As for the wondrous Tampa defense, having a great defense only counts if you can do it in the playoffs, and these guys are rattled. Jason Bartlett’s throwing error on a routine play in the 6th put this game in a different light; it psychologically put it out of reach for the Rays.

That Tampa bullpen? Overrated. Chad Bradford almost threw away that easy grounder, and he was smacked around. Luckily for him, that double play worked out. The Sox have familiarized with Howell’s stuff, and Grant Balfour is so amped up he can’t throw anything below shoulder-level.

My biggest concern is that Hideki Okajima, who threw two innings today, won’t be available tomorrow. I’m not saying that Tito was wrong to use him for two. But if the Rays do what I think they’ll do tomorrow, Lester should take us deep enough. They can’t continue to hit home runs at this rate forever, and once they stop clearing the fences, their season will be over.


2 Responses to 2008 ALCS: Wow. Game 7 tomorrow.

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    According to history, the Red Sox had only a 0.005% chance of winning Game 5 once they were behind 7-0 in the bottom of the 7th.

    That’s awesome.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    One detailed example of how Maddon tends to undervalue the platoon split as well as overestimate his relivers:

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