The Angels' backs are against the wall again at chilly Fenway on this Monday night of dueling ALDS Game Fours. This one is aces high: Jon Lester and John Lackey are on the battlefront armed with curveballs and fastballs. The air may be cold and sharp with the smells of autumn but these two pitchers are about as hot as they could get. In Game One, two roads diverged in the woods and they chose to take the awesome path, combining to make just one mistake: a Jason Bay two-run dong that made all the difference.
With the Rays just finishing off the creaky White Sox on a Ken Griffey strikeout, this Game Four will help decide which team will point their private plane towards St. Petersburg for some indoor baseball this weekend.
Will tonight be the night Dustin Pedroia gets off his hitless schneid? Can David Ortiz conjure up some old October rocketsauce? Is Francisco Rodriguez totally winded? Will Vladimir Guerrero reach down and out of the strike zone to turn a ball into a tater tot? Follow along with me after the jump for the liveglog of the century.
8:25PM: B.J. Upton hit two dongs tonight as the Rays clinched their appearance in the ALCS. Not bad for a dude with just nine homers in the regular season. Ozzie Guillen is going to be doing a lot of cursing in Spanish tonight.
8:30PM: We must treat this game with the absolute gravitas it deserves, because TBS is leading with an intro that is scored with thunderous music in a minor key and the voiceover is gravelly and Very Serious. Oh wait nevermind, here's goofy Chip Caray.
8:35PM: Shame about Creampuff Mike Lowell being inactivated for the rest of the postseason. That Puerto Rican goatee of his was completing the beard trifecta with Kevin Youkilis' heavy metal chin bush and Dustin Pedroia's disgusting stubble wreath.
8:40PM: Craig Sager blazer review: pumpkin-y and elegant; it says two things to me: "fall is here" and "Craig Sager has a fucking gimmick and he's too afraid to abandon it". Kudos to Gil Velazquez for saluting the TV cameras. Jon Lester has eleven straight wins at Fenway. Does anyone really think he'll lose this one?
8:45PM: Easy peasy 1-2-3 inning for Lester. To celebrate 1-2-3 innings tonight, I am going to use this following graphic from the best kids show ever:
8:48PM: Forgive me if I sound especially lucid tonight but I haven't had any wine or beer tonight. This is going to sound horrible, but I'm trying to cleanse my system so I fit into my new suit this weekend. I was going to go Dr. Atkins this week so I had a salad for dinner. Halfway through I realized that 1/3 of the salad were chickpeas, so I've already fucked that up. Dustin Pedroia continues his ineffective swing through the ALDS round, and Lackey earns another 1-2-3 inning by retiring Big Papi.
8:53PM: Vlad Guerrero should be eating Jon Lester for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and he does have five hits off the guy in thirteen at-bats. Still, there's only one extra base hit and one RBI. Which team will Vlad be playing for next year, because the Anaheim faithful will not be welcoming him with loving, caring, forgiving arms after another playoff plotz.
8:58PM: If there's one thing we've learned in the 2008 postseason, it's this: Mike Napoli is a Major League catcher. Chip Caray talks about the "sense of invincibility" disappearing from the Red Sox. Well yeah they didn't even win their division...if that doesn't reek of "vincibility" then I don't know what does. Two runners get on with two outs. Oops.
9:03PM: Lester finds his way out of the game's first jam. Later on Monday Night Liveglog Club, CC Sabathia finds his way out of a 55-gallon drum of Knotts Raspberry Jam. (I'm starving...must...stop...referencing...tasty...foodstuffs...so hungry...) Here's third baseman Kevin Youkilis, and you know what that means:
9:08PM: Prior to Youk's strikeout, noted idiot Ron Darling just decried the use of "facts" and "stats" when talking about positioning players in the field. He's the lone dull spot on the shiny TBS presentation this evening. Push him outta there, Buck! Noted FSU Seminole J.D. Drew singles. Noted former Pirate Jason Bay walks. Seems as though my pitcher friends disapprove of my 3-2-1 Contact graphic. Noted hot-chick-banger Mark Kotsay GIDPs and the threat has been mitigated.
9:13PM: One Aybar is through to the ALCS while the other is 1-for-14 and lauded as a hero by Buck Martinez. Who's the real hero, Buck??!? Certainly not this one. Manny was last seen fishing for tarpon off the coast of Hispaniola. I'm starvin', Earl, we got any tarpon back there?
9:18PM: My associate poses an interesting question: "Is Sean Casey hurt?" I haven't researched this, but mayhaps Tito prefers Mark Kotsay's bat over Sean Casey's glove. And that just tells you just how bad Sean Casey's bat has gotten over the years. Speaking of 'bad bats', how does Marky Tex go 7-for-14 in a series and have just one RBI when batting in the three hole? How bad is Garret Anderson (two hole)?
9:23PM: Ron Darling might be retarded. "Don't throw a strike on an 0-2 count." Thanks, Professor Hulafarts! Mark Kotsay runs to catch a Vlad pop-up in foul territory and stops to do-si-do the umpire. Cute. Lester gets Vlad on a nifty dribbler (web gem Pedroia!) to pull himself out of his second consecutive boondoggle. Angels have left four runners on through three. Harping on the same old news are Chip and I.
9:28PM: Jed Lowrie takes one for a ride but it dies in the cold Boston air, not unlike all those chicks the Boston Strangler took out on ice cream dates. 1-2-3 inning for Lackey.
9:33PM: There's a light at the end of my dietary tunnel, y'all. The weekend wedding is in Winston-Salem, and that's one of the few places on Earth left with a Real Live Krispy Kreme store. My girlfriend's never had a Hot Fresh Original Glazed doughnut, so we'll be sure to stuff our faces after I've unbuttoned my suit pants. Speaking of which, here's my favorite line from CTC's Game One glog last week: "11:34: The Angels are a fat team with a fat coach." Eloquent and true. Torii Hunter goes down swingin', like Tommy Dorsey.
9:36PM: Buck Martinez is earning my ire by going off on a broken bat rant. Yes, this is something that needs to be fixed. No, your incessant broken bat ramblings will not affect the decisions of the government forest nerds. 1-2-3 inning for Lester. Good boy!
9:41PM: So Dustin Pedroia would trade an 0-for-5 night for a win? Yes, but would he trade a young Jeff Bagwell for an aging Larry Andersen? David Ortiz singles bringing up my favorite Red Sock, the Greek God of Garish Goatees.
9:43PM: Looks like Howie Kendrick missed that ball because he was busy getting out of the way of a fucking 389 pound cannonball of muscle and empanadas. Still, Chone Figgins deserves a big fat error on that one.
9:46PM: Another Atkins violation: I'm dipping carrot sticks in black bean dip. Fuck it, I'm eating a pie. J.D. Drew took that ball out for a night on the town but he came up short and didn't even get to first base. Ortiz tags though.
9:49PM: Lackey squirms out of a hot mess and we're headed to the fifth. By the way, there is a gentleman seated behind home plate with a blue scarf who looks remarkably like Robert Redford. Anyone got any intel on this?
9:51PM: I'll be 31 in January. Am I eligible to get into Epcot for free on my birthday even though I'm no cherub-faced tyke?
9:54PM: Ron Darling is not sufficiently impartial to call this game. Would TBS have allowed him to do color commentary for a Mets playoff game? Oooh, Angels rally!
9:57PM: Whoa, the Angels have stranded 40 men in three and a half games? That's an entire active roster's worth! Let's drone on and on forever and ever about the Angels futility with runners on!
10:00PM: Okay, here's my two cents: the Mark Teixeira trade was an enormous flop. The Angels were going to win first place in the AL West with or without the guy (Casey Kotchman ain't no scrub). So effectively, the Angels got Texy so he could provide an offensive spark and get RBI in the postseason. Thus far, he has one RBI and zero spark. Henceforth and therefore, this trade is a miserable pot of shit. Nice job looking at that strikeout, Mark.
10:01PM: Oh, hey, Sex Drive the movie, starring James Marsden and Dr. Evil's son. I can't wait to not see that, ever, in any format.
10:03PM: The other former Brave named Mark in this game leads off with a single. My 3-2-1 Contact graphic is being quietly retired.
10:07PM: Enough nattering about the Rays, announcers! There's a 0-0 contest being played out right in front of your eyes! Look, down below! There it is!
10:10PM: That was an adequate execution of the ol' hit-and-run between Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek. It's as if they've been rehearsing that all week! Play for one run, Tito. Play for one run.
10:11PM: Ellsbury rhymes with Pillsbury. We got any cinnamon rolls back there? Kendrick bobbles the ball at second and blows his chance to turn the Dubble Play. Mark Kotsay crosses home plate and it's 1-0 Red Sox. Six RBI for Ellsbury!
10:13PM: Welcome, Dustin Pedroia, to the 2008 ALDS between the Boston Red Sox and the Anaheim Angels. Nice of you to show up...finally. 2-0 Red Sox.
10:15PM: John Lackey spears a web gem and he's finally through the jungle that was the Red Sox fifth inning. To the sixth, folks!
10:18PM: Mark Kotsay slides into a web gem in foul territory. He meant to do that, though. Again, sad about the Mike Lowell injury but the Red Sox infield defense is heads and shoulders better tonight...and Kevin Youkilis proves my point.
10:21PM: Hey, it took this long for Buck Martinez to bring up cancer? Who had 10:21PM in the Buck Martinez Mentions Jon Lester's Cancer pool? Jason Bay reels in out number three:
10:25PM: Great camera shot of Jason Bay catching Napoli's towering fly ball, except that thing was nowhere near clearing the Monster despite Caray's claims. That thing was like a 250-foot pop out.
10:27PM: Erick Aybar must hate the 3-2-1 Contact graphic because he just fielded that ground ball like a dead, retarded squirrel. The ball went right under his glove and yet the Boston scorer rules that a base hit. My arse.
10:29PM: Oh, Mrs. Kotsay, I'm sorry for your loss. I'll comfort you in your time of need.
10:33PM: No questions asked, the Angels have missed opportunities in this ALDS. They've also missed connections.
10:35PM: Jon Lester is made of magic and 1-2-3 innings. It's seventh inning stretch time, y'all!
10:40PM: Jed Lowrie leads off with a single and Jason Varitek follows with a hard-hit ball that dies in mid-air, not unlike a bird that chokes on a worm while bringing it back to her little baby birds. Okay, that's fucking morbid. I apologize.
10:43PM: Which is going to end first, this game or my laptop battery? I've got the charger but it's on the other side of the living room, and I left my reaching wand in the bedroom.
10:45PM: Buck Martinez: "Hideki Okajima is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get, and sometimes, you just want to squish him with your finger to see what's inside." Creepy!
10:48PM: Anybody out there send Ernie Johnson an electronic mail message on his newfangled Black Berry mobile communications device? I decided it would be better to MMS him a picture of my taint.
10:49PM: Dustin Pedroia has an innate ability to scoop low balls.
10:52PM: Good golly gracious, please don't turn this game into a circus of pitcher changes.
10:54PM: For some reason, Justin Masterson is called upon to face Vlad Guerrero for the fourth time this series. Guerrero has two hits off the dude in the first three at-bats. This boggles my feeble mind.
10:56PM: Jason Varitek has desperately been wanting Vlad Guerrero to whiff at the high hard one all night long. No such doing, as Vlad walks after falling behind 0-2.
10:58PM: That wild pitch was something else. The home plate ump just fudged his drawers.
11:00PM: Justin Masterson just gave up the farm. Torii Hunter silences the crowd. Stunned. 2-2 tie game.
11:03PM: I have no shame and I will go ahead and second-guess Tito Francona into his goddamn grave. Justin Masterson showed zero success in his earlier appearances in this series so this meltdown is nothing new. Dude finally earns an out to end the inning.
11:06PM: Pedroia begins a new hitless streak with a lineout off new Angels reliever Scot Shields. Oh Christ, a Dustin Pedroia player profile. Really? This is necessary?
11:09PM: Remember like a half hour ago when we were all so giddy about a quickly moving well-played ALDS game that looked to be done in fewer than three hours? When we were chatting about Epcot just biding our time until Lester struck down the final Angel of the night? Well now I feel pretty stupid about all that.
11:11PM: Make a wish, it's 11:11. Kevin Youkilis strikes out, bringing on the graphic of choice for the night:
11:13PM: Kendry Morales is a Red Sox killer. Not really, but I needed to use that meme at one point tonight. Hey, Masterson's still in the game!
11:16PM: A pinch hit double for Morales retroactively makes my words true. How will Scioscia handle this leadoff runner on second? Will we see a bunt?
11:19PM: Expect to see Masterson in my Morning Answers post tomorrow, if only for tossing a monkey wrench into a smoothly-running baseball game mechanism. Also, expect to see him if I ask a question about what words rhyme with "pastor nun".
11:22PM: Why bring in the Pride of Hyde Park now, after Masterson has already soiled the mound? Methinks Delcarmen would have been a better option to face Vlad. (nevermind, Vlad is 2-for-3 with a double and triple off Delcarmen in his career) Hey, nice squeeze bunt fielding job by Varitek...but he dropped the ball!
11:23PM: And by "squeeze bunt fielding job" I mean "catching a pitch that the batter completely failed to bunt". Sox are lookin' for the walkoff now in the ninth.
11:25PM: Robert Redford is stonefaced behind home plate. Mayhaps if the Sox work some Soxtober magic here, he will crack a smile like he did in that movie way back when.
11:28PM: That's a grounds rule dubble for the new kid Jason Bay. Lucky for the Angels, the baseball bounced into the madding crowd.
11:29PM: What a web gem by Mark Teixeira! With that one moment, the Mark Teixiera trade is officially a success. Casey Kotchman never woulda had it.
11:30PM: WALKOFF WIN! WALKOFF WIN! RED SOX WIN ON A WALKOFF SINGLE! WHEE
11:31PM: Jed Lowrie sets the town on fire with his game winning single. /removes panties
11:32PM: If that wasn't the happiest fucking moment of Jason Bay's entire baseball career, then I don't fucking know enough about Jason Bay's likes and dislikes. Good for him!
11:34PM: Manny Delcarmen, the Pride of Hyde Park gets the win. If there was an ALDS MVP award, I'd give it to Jon Lester without hesitation. That dude is just amazing.
11:35PM: Thanks for joining us tonight. Good work by the AL East over the past few days. If anyone is surprised that the Rays and Red Sox are meeting in the ALCS, then they obviously didn't watch enough baseball this year. See you all tomorrow, and come back Thursday night for NLCS Game One between the Phillies and the Dodgers...we'll be giving you the full liveglog treatment again!