Ailing ace Josh Beckett takes the mound at friendly Fenway with the possibility of advancing his Red Sox to the ALCS and sweeping a 100+ win Angel team outta the playoffs. Nothing is etched in bronze yet, still this series proves how unimportant regular season win totals are in the postseason. After all, both the Red Sox and Angels allowed just under 700 runs during the proscribed 162 contests yet the Boston boppers managed to outscore the apathetic Angels by nearly half a run per game. You had to see this one coming.
Anaheim counters with Joe Saunders, another one of their starters with a gaudy win-loss record and not much else. Dude just didn't strike out enough batters to make up for his mediocre walk rate and tater rate. What Joe Saunders has going for him are two appearances versus the Sox at Fenway in aught-eight where he won twice and allowed five runs in 12 innings. His biggest mistake was giving up a two-run dong to Coco Crisp in July, a game the Angels still won 9-2 in defeating Beckett.
Enough chatter. J.D. Drew sits tonight to rest his weary back in favor of the aforementioned Crisp. (mmmm....aforementioned crisps...) Mike Lowell is back at third base, and your playoff glog starts après le saut:
7:15PM: So hey, who knew this Rays-White Sox game would be so interesting?
7:20PM: Who is more upset right now? Folks who wanted to see the Rays game end before the Red Sox game started or folks who wanted to watch Titanic tonight on TNT? Sorry suckers, but your romantic epic is gettin' pre-empted.
7:25PM: Wore my Creampuff shirt to the bar today. You would never believe how many people asked me about it! Unrelated note: the Titanic just capsized. People are soggy. First pitch is minutes away at Fenway.
7:30PM: Okay, okay, zero people asked me about the shirt. But maybe someone read the web address on the back when I was at the urinal, so I have that going for me. Just switched back to TNT and Craig Sager is wearing his single most conservative blazer ever. Figgins takes advantage of Beckett's first fastball with a grounds rule double.
7:35PM: Beckett fooled Anderson so bad, Garret might still be hunched over looking at that curveball three hours from now.
7:40PM: It feels weird to watch a playoff game coming to us live from Fenway without the incessant blatherings about history and aura by Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. Almost soothing and relaxing to hear Actual Baseball Analysis in Buck Martinez' dulcet voice. Will we get to hear
Skip Chip Caray and Buck do the ALCS on TBS too? Two K's for Beckett in his first two outs. That works.
7:45PM: Since I refuse to attack Alex Rodriguez for his selected postseason lapses, I cannot attack Vlad Guerrero for being completely ineffective in his playoff career. Five postseason series and the dude is OPS'ing under .600. Small sample size? It's fewer than 80 plate appearances, so yeah. Beckett is hitting 95 MPH on the speed-o-meter; his Strikeout Shack is open for business. Infield hit for Hunter bloats the bases with two down.
7:50PM: Specials tonight at Josh Beckett's Strikeout Shack: bases loaded walk sorbets and high pitch count fritto misto. Don't try the veal.
7:55PM: So there's a new Frank TV ad where Frank TV, in one of his Frank TV characters, complains about there being too many Frank TV ads on TBS. Too meta? Other notable sponsors tonight: Captain Morgan convinces us to get wasted, Viagra helps those who cannot get it up because they're too wasted. Synergy! Mark Teixeira is gold-glovey.
8:00PM: If Dustin Pedroia wins the MVP award that the Fenway folks so very much want him to win, I'll eat my hat. What, just because Manny is gone and Papi is having a down year the kid's suddenly made of magic? And Kevin Youkilis has an amazing season from start to finish but he's just mashed potatoes to Pedroia's Yukon Gold Gruyère galette? Pfft.
8:05PM: Buck Martinez thinks Beckett's control and velocity are A-OK despite the two week layoff from Actual Baseball Competition. I'm willing to take his word for it but not if he continues to take every hitter to full counts and walk in runs. Youkilis' playoff beard, by the way, is impressive and imposing.
8:10PM: Paul Byrd gets name-dropped and the friendly TBS camera folks point their viewfinders towards the Red Sox bullpen, where Byrd is having a delicious snack of boogers. Tasty, and free! Varitek's throw comes up a couple yards short of nailing Figgins. First Angel stolen base of the series.
8:15PM: No, Ernie Johnson, I am not sending an 'email' to your 'blackberry'. Oh, that's not a double entendre? He really has one of them thingamajigs with the cellular stuff and ringtones? Beckett worked out of another jam. Later, he'll work out of strawberry rhubarb jam and come out smelling like summer.
8:20PM: Off-topic beer discussion: we tried the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale and the Spaten Oktoberfest this weekend. Both were eminently quaffable, whatever that means. Other signs of autumn besides playoff baseball: I slept with the window open while wearing a hoodie.
8:25PM: When Mike Scioscia wears his baseball cap on top of his head without pulling it down above his ears like most human beings do, it makes him look like a bobblehead. An enormous, fat-faced dago bobblehead. Saunders is working as hard as Beckett; this game may not be over in time to hate myself for watching "Little Britain USA".
8:30PM: Coco Crisp owns Joe Saunders about as much as Coco Crisp can own a pitcher. Fella walks to load the bases now and all the rally monkeys out in Anaheim are throwing feces in disgust. Saunders is over 40 pitches now.
8:33PM: Inexcusable no-mans land gaffe for the Angels fielders. Torii Hunter should have eaten that ball for dinner but he allows himself to be played for a fool by Howie Kendrick. It's a three-run shoulda-been pop out. Massive baseball fail for the entire Anaheim organization there. 3-1 Red Sox.
8:40PM: Hey, that's Vladimir's first postseason extry-base hit since nineteen dickety-two. He's off the schneid! Torii Hunter, on the other hand, may never get himself off the schneid with miserable strikeouts like that.
8:45PM: One hundred and ten combined pitches for our flustered starters and only fourteen gentlemen have been retired. At this rate, we'll see nearly four hundred pitches tonight before we can fire up our DVRs and catch up on tonight's thrilling episode of "The Amazing Race".
8:47PM: There's that big hit you've been asking for all night, Buck Martinez. Mike Napoli just tater-totted wayyyyyyyyyyyy over the Green Monster.
8:50PM: We're halfway through three innings and the score is knotted at 3. Settle in, folks. Pull up that ottoman and put on some coffee. We're in for a long night at the Liveglog Factory.
8:55PM: Hey, Torii Hunter caught a fly ball! That's how it's done, friend. Here's future AL MVP Kevin Youkilis, who walks. Note: his increase in power this year had come at a cost, as his immortal walk rate has taken a slight tumble to the level of mere mortals. Make no mistake, though, he's My Most Favorite Red Sock Now That Manny Has Been Exported.
9:00PM: Off-topic reading for those of you who like a little schadenfreude to go with your liveglogging: Bleed Cubbie Blue's Elegy to the 2008 Cubs. That's enough to cheer up even the saddest Brewers fan.
9:05PM: Here's another way to describe the Cubs playoff appearance. I'm not letting up; thankfully we have nearly zero Cubs fans reading us. On a unrelated note, how happy is Coco Crisp that he's relevant again? Here's Mark Teixeira with another chance to end an inning with a runner on base.
9:10PM: Josh Beckett was a little late getting off the mound, after he caught that toss from Youkilis the distance between him and first base created a gap large enough to drive a Sherman tank through. He still attempted to plant his foot on the 'bag'. Mariano Rivera, he is not.
9:15PM: We've passed the 150 pitch mark for the game and we've got at least five more full innings to go. With those two weeks off, Beckett should be able to throw about 230 pitches, though. Just kidding. He's not being managed by Dusty Baker. Beckett makes it through four innings, still tied at 3.
9:20PM: The Angels have left eight gentlemen on base through four innings. Worst offenders: Hunter with four and Teixeira with three. Napoli (3) gets a pass for socking that two-run dong. Jason Varitek's playoff beard is well-groomed but soulless, not unlike the double play he just grounded into.
9:25PM: "Beckett's rust is slowly being pitched away," says Chip Caray. Methinks Chip Caray doesn't understand very well how the human arm works. Oh shit, Beckett just gave Rivera the high hard one and Chip Caray's words proved true for just a brief second.
9:27PM: And it looks like Mike Napoli is Signore Ottobre. My paisan comes through with his second ding-dong off Josh Beckett to give the Angels a 4-3 lead.
9:35PM: Having crossed the 105 pitch mark, Josh Beckett's night is most certainly done after five up-and-down innings. He struck out six Angels but walked four batters and allowed two homers to Mike freakin Napoli. Expect to see Manny "The Pride of Hyde Park" Delcarmen emerge from the Red Sox bullpen next inning.
9:40PM: "A rare ineffective at-bat with a runner in scoring position (for Pedroia)," exclaims Chip Caray. Pedroia's batting average with RISP: a hearty .307, but that means that at least six out of ten times, he's ineffective.
9:45PM: David Ortiz strikes out swinging on the high, hard one but doesn't earn the praise of Caray for having a "rare ineffective at-bat". Remember when David Ortiz was 'clutch'? TRICK QUESTION: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLUTCH. Your MVP Youkilis, however, begs to differ. 4-4 tie.
9:50PM: This Jason Bay feller ain't so bad either, but he's not sign-worthy. We've reached the 200 pitch mark for the game, by the way.
9:55PM: Jose Arredondo has the sexiest last name in baseball. Just say it with me now. Arredondo...Arredondo...are you rolling your R's? Roll them! Arrrrrrrredonnnnnnnn-do. He works his way out of Joe Saunders' mess.
10:00PM: Folks, that's gonna do it for me tonight. I've got a prior engagement that's going to prevent me from taking this glog past 10PM. Please join me tomorrow night when I'll be glogging whichever ALDS game starts in the 7:30PM range...and I will promise a full game liveglog. Thanks for joining me for the five slowest innings in baseball history!