The best way to deal with not having home-field advantage? Steal it in the first game.
The Red Sox came up huge again last night, thanks to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kevin Youkilis — and a huge assist to Justin Masterson (and by extension Terry Francona). The Sox have again done in the first game exactly what they needed to: Win at least one of the two road games with which they open the series.
It’s not a guarantee, of course. In 2005, the Angels beat the hometeam White Sox in Game 1 of the ALCS, then lost the next four games. But it’s still huge. The Sox only need to go 3-3, while the Rays must go 4-2. If they win tonight, with Josh Beckett on the mound, the Sox only need to win two of three at home to clinch.
It’s safe to say now that the chances are much improved for the Red Sox to win this series in six games or fewer. The odds are much improved the Rays find themselves in a 3-0 hole after Beckett and Lester are through with them.
No wonder David Ortiz thought the Rays looked scared last night:
I’m the kind of guy that I watch everybody’s faces. I’ve got the opportunity because I don’t have to go out there and play defense. I’m telling you, I saw faces tonight different than what I see in the regular season.
This is still a tough opponent, and I think it will still be a tough series. But it got a little easier for the Sox, thanks to their pitchers’ fine performances last night.