How sweep it is!!!

The Boston Red Sox are going to the American League Championship Series. Let’s enjoy this for a day or two, then I think it’s important to reflect on some good things and some bad things that need to be worked out before game one on Friday.

First of all, anytime you sweep a team it’s great, but we need to remember that Boston swept a very beat-up team. The Angels’ two best players were playing with one arm (Vlad Guerrero) and one eye (Garrett Anderson). Their best defensive centerfielder was out (Garry Matthews Jr.), and their only pitcher with playoff experience was left off the playoff roster (Bartolo Colon). Not to mention the Angels had John Lackey pitch at Fenway, which pretty much concedes a Boston victory. I don’t want to sound like “the glass is half empty,” but the point I want to make is that whoever Boston plays in the next round (Cleveland) is going to be healthier, hungrier, and more determined than the Angels were.

In order for Boston to advance to the World Series they are going to need a repeat performance from their pitching staff. Beckett, Schilling, and the bullpen were phenomenal. Francona managed aggressively. He had guys stealing, hitting and running, and going for the extra base. They also had some big hitting from Papi, Manny and Lowell.

One of the bad things I noticed was that it seemed like Boston left a ton of runners on base. As the World Series gets closer, every run is important. These guys can’t be stranded. It also seemed like Boston grounded into a bunch of double plays. They are going to need Drew, Pedroia, and Coco to be more consistent at the plate. They looked lost up there a few times.

Another thing, and I hope Terry Francona finally realizes this: Eric Gagne sucks. He blew Schilling’s hard earned shutout tonight. I was surprised that he was even put on the playoff roster. Gagne has not pitched one meaningful inning since his acquisition. He has been a bust. Theo Epstein needs to eat a little crow and admit he blew it on this one. I personally would have given that spot to Julian Tavarez. Tavarez is much more versatile. He can start, as well as be the long reliever if needed. He has done whatever the Sox have asked of him this year. He’s a goofball, but even when he rolls the ball to first base, it’s still better then when Gagne is out there.

The Red Sox have the players to get the job done and win the World Series, but they can’t count on always getting the clutch home run. Getting the little things right is what is going to take Boston to the next level.

Foulline playoff notes

I love the baseball playoffs. It really is the best time of the sports year. If you didn’t get excited watching either of the American League Division games last night, you might be a cyborg… or maybe J.D. Drew. Here are some of the things that caught my eye during these two games last night.

  • Boston fans might want to reconsider A-Rod joining the Red Sox next season. This guy is 0 for 24 in the postseason with three more strikeouts last night. If the postseason started in May, he would be our guy.
  • Fausto Carmona is the real deal. He will win a Cy Young within the next three seasons.
  • Watching Joba Chamberlain pitch last night was a thing of beauty. The bugs flying around his head turned him into a shell of the pitcher he normally is. I’m surprised he was able to get anyone out the way he was affected. I bet if it were Snickers bars instead of bugs flying around his fat head he would have been ok.
  • I may have given Dice K too much credit. He looked a little out of sorts. Not a terrible game, but I was expecting more from the #2 guy.
  • Joe Torre aged 30 years over the last two games. He is now officially 112.
  • For a while last night, I really thought Manny Ramirez was drunk. He played like he drank a bottle of Jack Daniels before the game, over-running a ball in the 2nd inning, turning a routine fly ball into a circus catch. He really looked lost. He needed that walk-off home run just to redeem himself.
  • Anytime you get walked four times during a playoff game, you win the official title of Baddest Dude in Baseball. 2007 winner: David Ortiz.
  • Kelvim Escobar deserved better. He really pitched well last night. With the exception of the first inning, he was excellent. I can’t remember a pitcher hitting the outside corner as often as Escobar did last night.
  • Manny Ramirez will get beaned in game 3. After he hit his game winner, he admired that shot a little too long. You have to act like you’ve done it before, Manny. Enjoy the plunking. By the way, that blast was wicked awesome.
  • I can now see why the Angels won their division. They are scary on the basepaths.
  • The WTBS announcers are horrible. They regurgitated every fact that has been reported this season. Wow! Breaking news! Jonathan Papelbon was supposed to be a starting pitcher this year! That is top-rate reporting. Not to mention they both have faces for radio.
  • Has anyone seen Derek Jeter this post season? Isn’t this guy supposed to be Captain Clutch?
  • In a one-run game, Mike Scioscia let Scot Shields pitch. This guy’s ERA at Fenway is 17.65. He makes John Lackey look like Sandy Koufax.
  • That was not a typo above. The Shields family opted to give their son only one “t” in his name.
  • Roger Clemens is pitching his last game in the Major Leagues tomorrow. Four years too late.
  • I know I am reaching on this one, but I really believe Boston and Cleveland will meet in the American League Championship Series.

The American League playoffs have been great so far and have really lived up to the hype.

Does anyone know when the National League Playoffs start???

Game One goes to the Sox

The score for last night’s Red Sox/Angels game doesn’t do justice to just how badly the Angels were beaten. The score may have been 4-0, but it could have easily been 10-0.

Beckett dominated. There are not enough words to describe his performance. Complete game, 4 hits, no walks, no runs. This guy is a big game pitcher.

This game could have been so much uglier for the Angels if it weren’t for Crisp, Drew and Varitek hitting into inning-ending double plays. Or the second base umpire calling Lugo out on his steal attempt when he was safe by a mile. Or the home plate umpire calling strike 3 on Man-Ram when the ball was clearly 6 inches off the plate. Boston could have been in double digits by the 5th inning.

The Sox had their chances to put a big number on the scoreboard tonight but were unable to capitalize. A couple of days off before Game 1 may have cooled their bats a little, but fortunately there is no better batting practice pitcher around than John Lackey. I still can’t believe that Lackey won 19 games this year. Who exactly was he pitching against, the Oakland Little Leaguers of Santa Monica? What makes this even better is that if Boston is to lose one of the next two games, we get to see Beckett face John (S)Lackey again in Game 4. But I think it’s more likely we’ll just see him next season.

This was a good game for the Boston Red Sox. Great pitching, stellar defense, and decent hitting. The Sox played with a lot of confidence last night. I can only see them getting better as the playoffs continue.

The next Sox game is Friday night. This gives Red Sox fans the opportunity to become temporary Indians fans tonight. Let’s all hope A-Rod continues his post-season struggles, Chien Mien Wang gives up 15 runs, and Joba Chamberlain eats Derek Jeter before the game. Go Tribe!