Has Manny's ball landed yet?
OK, Red Sox Nation. We've had about 10 hours to digest this game. It's all settled, right? OK, good. Let's keep talking about it then.
- Something that shouldn't go unnoted is the impressive work by the Boston Red Sox bullpen. Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon combined for 4.2 innings of no hit, no run baseball that kept the Sox in the game.
Most impressive was Okajima. I don't think he was lights out like he was at his best during the regular season, but Oki was still able to notch two strikeouts in his 1.1 innings. Papelbon walked two in his 1.1 innings and struck out one. It looked to me he was getting squeezed a little, but he still was able to earn the big outs.
I actually didn't agree with Papelbon coming into the 8th inning. I thought Oki was doing well enough to finish off the last batter, Howie Kendrick. I would have liked to see Papelbon start the 9th so maybe the Sox could use him for the 10th, if need be, but everything, obviously, worked out great.
- With the bullpen, we need to talk about Daisuke Matsuzaka, obviously. I don't think we can classify last night's game as "horrible" for him. I think last nights game was one of those typical Dice-K games where he struggles and then shuts down the opponent as the game continues. Since the stakes were higher, though, Terry Francona didn't take any chances and yanked Dice-K after 4.2 innings. If this was a regular season game, I think Dice-K would have probably finished with 6 innings under his belt.
I think Daisuke will rebound. Depending on how Curt Schilling pitches on Sunday, though, he could move down in the rotation if the Sox advance to the ALCS.
- Although it was his only hit of the game, I was pleased to see JD Drew come up with a big hit in the first to drive in Boston's first two runs. If he can hit well, he'll be the difference in the post-season. He'll be the 2007 version of Derek Lowe.
- Here's some stats for you: David Ortiz is hitting .750 this post-season with a .889 OBP and a 1.500 slugging percentage.
- We'll probably be hearing this story for years to come, but it's worth it to mention the great play from 17-year-old Danny Vinik in the 5th inning last night. Vinik stole the ball from Angels' catcher Jeff Mathis, preventing a sure out. It lead to a Red Sox run and the poetry continued from there.
Great play and everything, but the fans need to know NOT to do that when the opposing team is hitting. That's one thing that bothers me a lot during baseball games...
- The Sox notched only six hits last night, but they worked a total of nine times. Two of those were intentional. The other seven displayed the inability of the Angels' pitching staff. If the Sox had worked nine walks and couldn't walk away with a victory, it'd be gloomy in Red Sox Nation this morning.
- Come Sunday, the ball will be handed to Schilling to finish off this series. I've got to wonder, though, how is Schilling's mindset now that he isn't the No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher the Sox need to rely on? There's no doubt in my mind that Schilling is true competitor and approaches every start the same way, but is it any different for him now that he's the No. 3?
I've said previously I thought the Sox would win in 4 against the Angels, with Schilling losing the third game. However, I really want to be wrong. I want Schilling to go out there and pitch seven innings of scoreless ball and let the bullpen bring home the win. That's my ideal situation.
Sit back and relax for a day, folks. The D-Backs look for the sweep tonight against the Cubs at 6 p.m. EST with Livan Hernandez on the mound. At 9:30 p.m., the Rockies will rely on Ubaldo Jimenez to finish off thier series with the Phillies. These should be some interesting games to watch.
I sure do love October.