All things considered, these are the two best teams in the AL this year, and the matchup is well-earned. Anibal Sanchez (who has the lowest season ERA of any AL starter who qualified, soundly beating Scherzer and Verlander, SCARY) takes on Jon Lester in the first face-off at Fenway Park. I feel like the Sox are a slightly better team (the Sox lineup and bullpen are certainly stronger than Detroit’s, particularly with injured Miggy, while the Sox rotation is almost certainly weaker than DET’s), but it’s the playoffs, nothing will come easy, and whoever wins will earn it once again. I’m just glad it’s a 7-game series so the best team is more likely to win: let’s find out who that really is. Comment away.
Who do you want to face the Sox? SFs? YFs? I don’t think I can honestly say I prefer one team over the other. The Tigers’ starters are scary (Scherzer/Verlander/Sanchez are all doing really well this year), but Oakland’s are no pushover. What we want doesn’t matter much in the end; what matters is what happens when Verlander takes on Gray, a rematch of the pitching duel in Game 2 that ended with an Oakland walkoff 1-0 win. Time for some hearts to break. The winner comes to Fenway on Saturday. Comment.
With an honorable mention to the Orioles for their part in the 2011 debacle (and pretty much owning the Red Sox since), it’s safe to say that the Yankees and Rays have dealt the worst blows to the Red Sox from 2008-2012 (2008′s ALCS loss to the Rays in 7 games and 2011′s ultra-squander to the Rays, completed when the Yankees folded late against the Rays in Game 162, being the biggest examples).
This year the Red Sox went 13-6 against the Yankees in the regular season and played a significant part in showing the Yankees the door in September…the Yankees got as close as 1 game back of the second wild card after the games of 9/12, but were 3 back after that weekend’s series at Fenway and never got closer than 2.5 after that. They went 1-6 against the Red Sox in September.
The Red Sox went 15-8 against the Rays this season, including postseason play (12-7 in the reggalah), and didn’t just show them the door, but grabbed them by the collar and kicked them through it. And all this after the Rays’ heroic efforts in what turned out to be three subsequent elimination games leading to an ALDS match with the AL’s best team (by record and run differential).
Honestly, I’d love to win it all, but coming in the wake of 2011/2012 and as redemption for those seasons and the painful loss in 2008…this has already been a supreme season. I look forward to seeing where it goes, but today I am utterly content. There’s a game each of the next three days to enjoy from our lofty perch (PIT-STL, DET-OAK, NLCS 1) while we wait for the show to continue on Saturday; Lester gets ALCS Game 1 instead of an elimination game this Thursday, while our eventual ALCS opponent will hopefuly wear themselves out on Thursday, and all is right with the world.
I suppose I was kinda asking for it with the thread title and the Koji-fawning yesterday. If you believe in that sort of thing. I do not. What I do believe is that Peavy will pitch better than Hellickson tonight, though I would expect Moore and Archer to be ready to take over if Hellickson gets in trouble early, which he probably will because the Sox are pretty awesome at the bounceback. I expect the offense to be better, I expect the defense to be better, and I expect the Sox to win. That’s pretty much it. Comment if you got ‘em.
Of the four division series, the TB-BOS one is the only one that can end in a sweep. The attendant downtime might be useful to the team with the guy with a broken foot (Ellsbury), the guy with a tweaky back who is banged up otherwise (Victorino), the guy who says putting his foot down is like stepping on an ice pick (Napoli), the guy who basically never took a day off till the 1-seed was sewn up (Pedroia) and the elder statesman with chronic leg and heel issues (Ortiz). It’s not as though rust seems to have hurt them in the first few ALDS games anyway. Put the Rays away. As much as I didn’t want it to be the Rays, it’s that much more fun that the Sox are wrecking a good team and their tremendous lefty starters thus far.
Otherwise off-topic, can I just mention how utterly dominant Uehara was Saturday? I now have the very faintest idea of what it was like for Yankees fans to watch Rivera jog in for the 9th (if you think I’m blaspheming, YFs, check out Uehara’s game logs for the year, particularly the final 3 months of the season, and then watch the replay of his 9th inning on Saturday). If it’s a close game and he’s up to it, he should absolutely come in for the final two innings of this one to shut it down and rest for the better part of a week (ALCS 1, whoever is in it, will be on Saturday).
Maddon claimed his team was “out-Fenwayed” in Game 2 of the series. Uhhhhh, okay, Joe…pretty sure the DPs and Papi blasts would have been the same in any park. Here’s your team’s chance to prove that in your own venue, it will go better. Buchholz (arguably the Sox’ best pitcher, including in September, and Rays kryptonite personified in his lifetime stats) takes on Cobb, who the Sox have done relatively well against all year. If Buchholz pitches up to his own ability…hoo boy, but still miles to go before we sleep. Comment away.
I know I laughed heartily yesterday. But the first victory means little on its own: MLB informs me that the winner of Game 1 in the ALDS has only gone on to win 21 of 36 such ALDS series–an advantage, but not a decisive one. And they don’t give bonus points for a rout.
So today’s a whole new ballgame as David Price (who has positively owned the Red Sox in his last few outings against them, including twice at Fenway) takes on John Lackey (who is a much better pitcher at Fenway this year than on the road). Who laughs last today? Who laughs last in the series? It’s sports–we don’t know! Stay tuned and find out. Comment away.
It’s been 4 years since the Red Sox were in the playoffs and 5 since they won a postseason game. One streak ends this afternoon for sure (weather permitting); we can only hope the 5-year streak ends as well. I want blood. F*ck the Rays; those scumbags need some payback for ’08.
So it’s time for your stomach to swoop and your head to spin as every game, every inning, every pitch takes on magnified meaning. Savor the fear, savor the joy–it’s October baseball. Comment away.
Didn’t get it up for yesterday (St. Louis and LA won large), but if you want to talk about these obviously less important games, feel free.
This second part in a two-part series deals largely (4 out of the 5 games) in what many of us baseball fans love the most: snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the 9th! On to the top 5.
The Sox and their fans have a stake in this one…the winner heads to Boston for an ALDS game Friday. Tito’s Tribe or Maddon’s Tools…I’d be happy for the Sox to squash either.
Cobb vs. Salazar. Comment.
The Pirates earned the right to play this game in Pittsburgh by winning a season-closing series against the Reds in Cincinnati (they swept, in fact). But they still need to win one more against them to have a shot at the title.
Cueto faces Liriano, and millions of Pirates fans continue to hold a collective breath that they’ve been holding for over 2 decades. What does it sound like when a few million people exhale and begin screaming with joy? Red Sox fans know. Hopefully Pirates fans will get a taste too. Comment away.
I think the lack of celebration of regular season success is a big negative for sports and sports fans everywhere. The focus on postseason success nullifies the great things accomplished in the longer, harder-to-succeed-at-length regular season, particularly the things accomplished by good teams who run into a wall soon after most of the other teams go home, and I’m not just saying this to rationalize about anticipated sour grapes if the Red Sox are bounced in 3 games in the division series. So this post is in large part to celebrate this, the most fantastic regular season of my Red Sox fanhood. Because who knows what will happen, and having a tie for the best record in MLB (Cardinals) and the AL best record outright is an accomplishment to be celebrated–six months of good, hard work that shouldn’t be disregarded if the Sox fail to play up to their capability in October.
These are obviously subjective choices. Some of the games I listed earlier as “not quite top 10″ would easily make the top 10 list for other people. But check out the heroics, emotional moments, and high comedy that make up my personal choices below the jump. The second half will appear some time before the Red Sox take the field on Friday.
Joe Girardi was asked in mid-August how many wins the Yankees needed to get into the playoffs. His reply was, “A lot. Thirty-five, maybe. It might take 35 to get in.”
He was right; that would have given the Bombers 93 wins from that point in time. 91 wins wasn’t enough to safely slot the Rays or Rangers, as Cleveland sits in the first wildcard position at 92 wins. Now Tampa Bay and Texas have to sort it out. While the Red Sox get rest that may or may not be needed for the ALDS and Yankee fans wonder if Girardi might go manage the Cubs, David Price and Nelson Cruz are on the bump for their respective teams in a winner-take-all, one-game contest. The cage-match of baseball, if you will. Until the next cage match where one of these teams face the Tribe. It seems Selig might have done one good thing, because this is rather exciting. Comment away.
Vernon Wells and Eduardo Nunez are the only players in the starting lineup today — the last game of the season — that were also in the starting lineup on April 1st when the Yankees lost to Boston on opening day.
Farrell couldn’t have made his feelings about the importance of this game more clear than by choosing Webster to start. Well, I guess he could have left a bag of poo in Showalter’s office with a sign saying “This is what this game is worth”, but immature fantasies aside, this game means nothing. I’ll hope they win and match the 2004 team’s regular season total, but whatevs; the real games played elsewhere are the ones I’ll really be watching. They affect Octobah, y’know.
On the last day of the regular season, the AL division leaders will all play meaningless games as Oakland’s loss to the Mariners on Saturday sealed the seeding at 1: Boston, 2: Oakland, 3: Detroit. Now who the Sox face in Boston on Friday for ALDS Game 1…well, that’s yet to be decided and could be quite the cluster. After 7 straight games wrecking Baltimore and New York, the Rays stumbled mightily in Toronto of all places, losing the series yesterday. Combined with the Rangers’ and Indians’ continuing surges (the Indians have won 9 in a row), the standings have shaken up quite a bit since Friday morning, as it’s now CLE: +1.0, TB –, TEX –. A tie between all 3 teams affords the most ridiculous outcome(s), but this Sox fan still prefers to see Tampa Bay iced as soon as possible. That happens if the Rays lose and the Rangers win. Cleveland just has to win to earn home field in the play-in game (and possibly wait for the outcome of the play-in before the play-in if TB and TEX end up tied). We’ll talk about who plays who and where and when after today’s matches are all in the books.
In the NL, the biggest piece of drama is gone after the Pirates won their second straight game in Cincinnati, clinching home field for the play-in game. All luck to them. Go Bucs. The only NL business that needs sorting is the #1 seed. St. Louis won and Atlanta lost yesterday, so the Cards are a game up to start the last day. If the Cards win, there’s nothing Atlanta can do, but if the Cards lose, the Braves would gain the 1-seed with a win, as they hold the tiebreaker.
Games that matter today:
Rays (Moore) @ Blue Jays (Redmond) 1:07 ET
Phillies (Miner) @ Braves (Teheran) 1:35 ET
Indians (Jimenez) @ Twins (Diamond) 2:10 ET
Cubs (Samardzija) @ Cardinals (Westbrook) 2:15 ET
Angels (Vargas) @ Rangers (Darvish) 3:05 ET