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October 3rd, 2007 – 3:15 PM: 15 minutes to game time! The Rockies just beat the Phillies in Game 1 of the NLDS.
It’s hard to believe the season has gone by so quickly, and here we are in the first day of playoffs! Combine the excitement of this season with the feeling that, as I get older, every year is only half as long as the one before it, I suppose the 2007 baseball season was just destined to fly by as if it were piloted by Chuck Yeager.
This isn’t the match-up I’d have wanted though. In fact, I’m downright terrified of the Red Sox. The Angels are probably the only team in baseball who’d rather face the Yankees than anybody else in the playoffs, but I have to remember that all these fears and hopes are based on years past; they mean nothing today. Yeah, Boston has eliminated the Angels from the playoffs twice. In 1986, in infamous Dave Henderson home run against Donnie Moore. In 2004, the Red Sox swept the Angels on their way to a World Series Championship.
But that is all meaningless. The regular season is meaningless. The only thing that matters are the next five games.
And we’ve got just as good a shot as anybody.
3:39 PM: Top of the First, no out, 0-0: Play ball! I’ve just been informed that Figgins (leading off tonight, as usual) ended the year on an 0-22 slump. But still he batted .330. I suppose I would have known that if I had actually watched the last few games of the season, rather than suffer through Hudler burnout and a desire not to watch my team phone it in and rest.
WOOHOO! Figgins leads off with a hit off Dustin Pedroia’s glove! Good start!
3:46 PM: Middle of the First, 0-0: Figgins gets on with a single, steals two bases (well, both were hit-and-runs), and Garret Anderson strikes out to end the inning. Speaking of GA, his eye looks HORRIBLE. Apparently he has conjunctivitis, and it has nearly swollen his right eye shut. I have no idea how he can see a pitch clearly with that, but the doctors cleared him to play, so again, what do I know?
3:58 PM: Bottom of the first, 1-0 Boston: Dammit. Lackey Meltdown Inning #1. A solo home run by Kevin Youkilis. No biggie, a solo shot won’t hurt you. But then he puts two runners on, and requires a visit from the coaching staff.
Nice. Pop-up by Lowell. 2 out. J.D. Drew up. Ack! Dad’s home, I gotta help him out of the car.
Woohoo! I come back in, the Angels got out of it! 1-0 Boston.
4:19 PM: Top of the 3rd, no outs, 1-0 Boston: Well, it looks like Lackey got his meltdown inning out of the way early (knock on wood), and it wasn’t too bad. He blew through them in the 2nd. Single to Varitek, double play, single to Lugo, caught stealing.
Now TBS is becoming like ESPN. They just missed an at-bat because they had to get their commercials in. 1 out, Willits at bat. If you’d have told me in March that Reggie Willits would have had the year he’s had, I’d have called you crazy. But Willits above anybody else in this lineup has proven how flexible and loaded the Angels are.
You know, I have no idea who is calling this game, but I like ’em. They’re low key, they’re not overtly rooting for Boston like McCarver and Buck would be doing, and they’re definitely not Hudler and Physioc. Somebody tell Arte Moreno to hire these guys.
Willits pops out to Manny Ramirez. Figgins up again. It was nice to see him lead off with a hit. That first at-bat can lay the ground work for an entire series. Don’t believe me? If A-Rod gets a hit in his first at-bat tomorrow, look to see how big the smile on his face is.
Strikeout. Beckett is on his game so far, I’ll give him that. Middle of the 3rd, 1-0 Boston. Let’s go Big John Lackey!
4:31 PM: Bottom of the 3rd, 1 out, 3-0 Red Sox: Double to Youkilis, and a shot by David Ortiz that still hasn’t landed. Seven hits Lackey has given up so far. Dammit.
Now a walk to Manny Ramirez. You can see it on his face, the frustration. I’ve been saying it all year, Arte Moreno needs to hire a good sports psychologist. This pitching staff can handle the physical side of the game; they’re toast on the mental side. And while Lackey has been mentally tougher this year, allowing many fewer meltdown innings this year, look at Ervin Santana, Scot Shields, and Francisco Rodriguez.
Lowell singles to center, Manny scores.
Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo.
4:56 PM: Top of the 5th, no outs, 4-0 Red Sox: It appears that even innings are GOOD for Lackey, odd innings BAD. Lackey blew through the Sox in the bottom of the fourth.
Of course, Beckett has blown through the Angels in every inning.
Izturis pops up, but had a **** of an at-bat, going into a full count. More Angels need to be doing that.
HEY! Jose Mota got a job for the playoffs! He just did some commentary from the field level. If I have to see a familiar face from the Angels broadcasting team, at least it was Mota. If Hudler had shown up, I may have puked.
Kotchman strikes out. 5 K’s, 14 consecutive batters retired by Beckett. Yeah, he owns us tonight.
Let’s change that. GO ANGELS! Ah, Kendrick grounds out. 15 straight.
****, it’s an odd inning. Cross your fingers, pray for John Lackey.
5:28 PM: Top of the 7th, 1 out, 4-0 Boston: 19 straight outs for Beckett. The guy OWNS us tonight. The heart of the order is batting this inning, with Vlad up right now. He’s 0-for-2 tonight. ****, everybody except Figgins is 0-for.
Hey! Vladimir Guerrero gets a hit! OK guys, time to start a rally here!
Just please don’t break out a monkey in the dugout…
Now Garret Anderson pops up. I’d like to blame his eye, but if that’s the case, then everybody seems to have an eye infection tonight. Two outs.
And Izturis grounds out. Josh Beckett is unbeatable.
5:38 PM: Bottom of the 7th, 1 out, 4-0 Boston: Ervin Santana is in the game, Lackey is out. Seems weird to see Ervin in there in relief. And it’s not at all comforting. Last year, it would have been great. But unfortunately, Santana is the strongest indicator of the mental fragility of the Angels pitching staff this year. Though he looks pretty decent right now… Two strikeouts, a pop fly foul caught by Izturis, and the inning is over. Good job, Ervin.
6:10 PM: Final Score: 4-0 Boston: OK, Lackey wasn’t horrible. Sure, he had his problems, but he hung in there and pitched a decent game. Not great, but acceptable.
I sure with the bats had shown up.
Garret Anderson looked silly at the plate tonight. I don’t care what he says, having his right eye (the lead eye for a left-handed batter) swelled shut like that had to affect him, and it showed. But he wasn’t alone. The entire lineup might as well have dragged along seeing-eye dogs to Fenway as effective as they were.
OK, so we’re down 1-0. It’s not the end of the world. But the offense has to show up Friday, and they have to pound Matsuzaka early and often.
If not, it’ll be a sad day in Anaheim on Sunday.
God I hate the Red Sox.