As I am off celebrating my 10th anniversary with Mrs. TheFoulLine today, Dylan steps in with his assessment of Round 1, Sox vs. Angels. Enjoy.
It’s here. October. Down here in the southern portion of Red Sox Nation you can feel the air beginning to slip into a crisp autumn 88 degrees, and you know that fall is upon us. Everything is the same, somewhere leaves are changing colors, that Robert Frost poem “Apple Picking” is being read, and the rest of the world forgets about baseball to a point to watch the NFL. Here it is, fall, playoff time for baseball.
Yet this year brings a new feeling for me, one I hope to share with the rest of Red Sox Nation, a feeling of, dare I say it, confidence? Could it be? I’ve felt this feeling before, granted it was with the Patriots and not the Sox, but I know the feeling when I feel it. I honestly have confidence in the Sox, at least against the Angels thus far, and we’ll cross the next bridge when we get to it.
Here is why I am confident going into this series. This is the best October team we’ve had. I’ll break down our second round when we figure out who the Sox second round victim will be, but for now we’ll break down the Angels series.
Josh Beckett vs. John Lackey. Beckett is firing right now. He is the AL Cy Young guy, he’s consistent, and he’s pitching in Fenway. While we send our ace to the hill, John Lackey is 1-5, 7.09 in Fenway Park. During the 2007 season, he made two starts in Fenway, losing both while allowing 20 hits in 9.2 innings, and sported a 8.38 ERA. If the series extends to five games, he might have to make two starts in Fenway.
Big Papi is on fire right now. Ortiz hit .404 for the month of September. The Dominican God of Designated Hitting enters October destroying the ball, getting 12 hits in his last 18 at-bats, including four doubles and three homers. And the Angels’ pitching staff doesn’t match up particularly well against him. Ortiz is back in his playoff form, and ready to show us why he is the new Mr. October.
Curt Schilling going in Game 3 instead of Game 2. I like this. I don’t even know really why I do, I just do. I like giving Curt the extra day of rest, and I like putting Schill in the position where he feels like he has something to prove. There will be speculation he’s injured worse then we think, etc., etc… And amongst the questioning of Curt, i.e. 2004, playoff Schilling will appear, the Schilling we have come to love. Also, the way the series is setting up, we will see Beckett come up once again if needed I believe in game 4, giving us the bullpen presence of Tim Wakefield. I like this set up a lot.
Finally, why I have so much confidence this year is that we mean business this year. This is not the cowboy-up team of ’03 or the come-from-behind idiots of ’04, this is a winning baseball team, that knows what is expected of them: Ortiz swinging the bat like he’s Roy Hobbs swinging Wonder Boy in the Natural. Manny, well, he’s Manny, but he’ll show up for the playoffs, and that helps. The Pitching staff dealing pretty well this season, and the right mix of youthfulness getting fired up and veterans leading the way.
This is the best October Red Sox we’ve ever had.