2009 ALDS Game 1: Offense, defense flounder 0-5

Anytime you get shut out in the playoffs, it isn’t good. The Angels got their first playoff shutout ever last night on the strength of a 7.1 inning, 4-hit start by John Lackey. The 6-6 horse came out looking good, and it wasn’t until the 6th inning until we got a chance to do something against him. When he allowed a two-out single to Dustin Pedroia and walked Victor Martinez on four pitches, I was sure that he was falling apart; give him credit, he came back and got Kevin Youkilis to end the threat.

UPDATE: Credit home plate umpire Joe West, rather. That was clearly a walk. I was actually getting from my car to my TV during that at-bat, and I just reviewed the GameDay data.

There were a lot of things we could blame for this embarrassing show – we could start by two obvious blown calls at first base by 1B umpire C.B. Bucknor (Howie Kendrick, you lucky son of a gun). We got one back on that double play at the plate and at third, but by then it was too late. Or blame home plate umpire Joe West, who didn’t give Jon Lester several critical strike calls on the outside corner. But the real culprits were the lineup and the poor defense in this one. Look no further than drawing only one walk, all the limp grounders to second base and three strikeouts by David Ortiz. And factor the three errors and multiple miscues that allowed the Angels to score five runs. The Sox have no one to blame but themselves.

What went right? I think Lester looked and pitched like an ace. He came out throwing 97 mph in the first inning, probably from being so pumped up, and had command over all his stuff. Yes, he made a costly mistake to Torii Hunter, but he maintained his composure and did his job. The only thing I can really fault him with is being afraid to go after Bobby Abreu, who walked four times in this one. FOUR TIMES. At least Terry Francona pulled Lester early enough so that his coming back to start Game 4 is definitely an option.

Daniel Bard also looked good, blowing away Jeff Mathis and Chone Figgins in the 8th. We need him to be confident if he’s going to be a key part of our playoff hopes.

As for what went wrong, I didn’t like how Ramon Ramirez handled his first postseason appearance. He came out overthrowing at 95 mph, and clearly had the yips, walking Abreu then hitting Hunter. He is normally a very good fielder, but muffed an infield ball off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero. Francona was right to yank him, even though he hadn’t gotten anyone out. Maybe it’d have been better to bring him in against the lower part of the Angels’ lineup instead… Ah, hindsight, thou cruel master.

I also thought Jason Bay’s poor range was exposed on the RBI single by Kendry Morales to left-center. He could have had a play at third, had he gotten there a bit faster and positioned himself for the throw better. A good fielder might have even gotten to that ball.

Whatever the case, the Sox are down 1-0. Being outplayed is one thing, but giving away game 1 in a short series doesn’t sit well with me. We don’t play well on the road, but we need to snag game 2. Let’s all get on the shoulders of Josh Beckett and come along for the ride. Go Sox.


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