The Sox offense came alive for the first time in the series, but it wasn't enough. Down 6-4 in the 9th, the Angels rallied, scoring three runs off of Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th inning, and completed the sweep with a 7-6 win over the Red Sox.
A blow-by-blow dissection of the game seems somehow inconsequential right now. Buchholz was solid, giving up 2 runs in 5 innings. Daniel Bard cleaned up a bases-loaded, 0 out situation in the 6th inning giving up only 1 run on a double play, and pitched a clean 7th inning striking out 2. J.D. Drew, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, and Mike Lowell delivered in key situations, with Pedroia's 2-run double putting the Sox on the board and J.D.'s homer putting the Sox up 5-1.
But in the end it would come down to the back-end of the bullpen—the part that was supposed to be reliable—giving up the game. Billy Wagner gave up a double and a walk before Terry Francona called on Papelbon for the final 4 outs. Papelbon didn't deliver. A single to Juan Rivera scored both of Wagner's baserunners in the 8th, and in the 9th Papelbon—who had never given up a postseason run--absolutely blew up with 2 outs, giving up a single, a walk, a double, and an intentional walk to bring Vladimir Guerrero to the plate with the bases loaded, 2 outs, and a one run lead. Guerrero singled to center, the Sox went down in order in the 9th, and their season was over.
For the Red Sox, it will be a long offseason with plenty of questions. What to do about Jason Varitek, who holds a $3 million player option but can't seem to really play baseball anymore. Or David Ortiz, the aging slugger who hasn't been the same since 2007, and is only getting worse. Jason Bay is a free agent, the Shortstop position continues to be a giant question mark, and their once strong bullpen seems to need some serious reworking.
The story of the 2009 Red Sox will be one of a good team that couldn't get the job done in the postseason. For Sox fans, this is nothing new—it was the story so many times during the 86-year drought. But now we expect more out of this team—certainly more than the performance we received this October—and Theo Epstein will need to have an active offseason to meet our expectations.
March is only 141 days away.