On Oct. 11, 1986, the Boston Red Sox couldn't beat the California Angels. Not even Roger Clemens, having a Cy Young and MVP season, could do it, as he and Calvin Schiraldi coughed up a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning. The game-tying run scored on a hit by pitch with the bases loaded. The Angels won off Schiraldi in the 11th to take a commanding three games to one lead in the American League Championship Series.
It is now Oct. 6, 2009, and the Angels cannot beat the Red Sox. Since Bobby Grich singled home Jerry Narron in Game 4 of the '86 ALCS, the Sox are 12-1 against the Halos. More relevant for these teams, they have faced off in three postseason series since 2004, with the Sox winning all of them, sweeping two and losing just the one game.
In that same span, the Angels have played the Sox to a near-even 25-28 regular-season record, including a 19-6 record in Anaheim — but it's been 23 years since they've won a postseason home game against Boston.
This type of dominance leads to two natural conclusions: That it will continue because the Sox are that much better, even if only mentally, or that it will not, even if only because the Angels are due.
After all, none of us is too young to have forgotten the 1999 Red Sox, facing the mighty Cleveland Indians in the first round for the third consecutive time. The Indians swept out the AL East champs in 1995, bringing to 13 the Red Sox' embarrassing postseason losing streak (which also dated to 1986, coincidentally enough). They then handily defeated the Sox again in 1998, allowing Boston just one win. They then jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 1999 ALDS, an 8-1 record in just three postseason series.
The Sox, capped by Pedro Martinez's six-inning no-hit relief effort in Game 5, rallied to win the series and have lost just one division series in five trips since. The Sox then repeated the effort in 2007, spotting Cleveland a 3-1 lead in the ALCS before charging back for a seven-game victory en route to the World Series.
In other words, don't get too cocky, Sox fans. The Angels are a good team, and this is a short series. Anything can happen.
So, with all that said, let's hear it, baseball fans. Who will win this series, how many games, and why? Feel free to bring as much statistical data to the discussion as you can stomach.