Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sox Tank - Yanks Win = Rays Clinch AL EAST!

Boston Baseball Heads View:

The Red Sox tanked their game at Fenway Park before the smallest crowd in local baseball history. The rains came all day and the American League forced the Sox/Yanks to wait it out and "play ball". The result was the late scratching of Dice K and a 19-8 Sox loss. That would been OK - but the Eastern Division was on the line. The Tampa Bay Rays Lost to the bengals in Detroit -- but they still won the Division, because the Magic Number to clinch was ONE GAME!

Two trains of thought exist here. Mine is you play to win every game and try to win the Division for the all important Home Field advantage thru the play offs. OR - you line up your rotation and rest players for the task ahead. NOW - the Sox are forced to play the LA Angels and face a team that is ripe to beat them in post season play.

The Sox have had their way with the Angels in recent years. BUT, they were dominated in regular season play in 2008 -- especially on the road.

I am not happy with the game last night and they way in which it was handled by Terry Francona. I am only one person, but I do believe he sat back threw his hands up and said, "What the F -- who cares who we play!"

Not a good move Terry. I think this move is gonna bite you in the ass in the long run!
Her is what they are saying on the Red Sox webpage about the ALDS:

History Sides with Red Sox vs. Halos
Recent Success Bodes Well as ALDS Opens on Wednesday
By Ian Browne /

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BOSTON -- Here's an omen that will bring California-type sunshine to members of Red Sox Nation. The past three times the Red Sox have gone to the World Series -- 1986, 2004 and '07 -- they've opened their postseason run against the Angels.

So here we go again. After officially being eliminated from American League East contention with Friday's 19-8 loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox now know that they will play those Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League Division Series.

It will begin on Wednesday in Anaheim, as the Angels -- by virtue of having the best record in the AL -- had the right to choose which series to take.

By choosing Division Series B, there will be an off-day on Thursday. Game 2 will be on Friday, Oct. 3, and Game 3 will be at Fenway Park on Oct. 5. Game 4 (if necessary) is slated for Oct. 6. If it goes the distance, Game 5 would be back in Anaheim on Oct. 8.

With that setup, both managers could deploy a three-man rotation if they choose, and the top two starters for both teams could pitch twice if the series goes the distance. The Red Sox had the best record last year and made the same choice, though it wound up being a moot point when Boston swept the ALDS in three games.

Pitching strategy aside, this figures to be a fascinating series with several subplots.

Perhaps foremost among them is whether the Angels can exact revenge against the Red Sox for ruining two of their recent Octobers with those sweeps in 2004 and '07.

But revenge is also a factor on Boston's side. After all, the Angels took eight of the nine head-to-head meetings with the defending World Series champions this year and looked dominant in doing so.

"Shoot, they've been the best team in baseball all year long, them and Tampa Bay," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We've got to find a way to beat those guys. They really took it to us all year long in the season. I think it's just getting back to playing good baseball at the right time. Hopefully, we can do that and get on a little run here."

The one reason the Red Sox can take their fruitless matchups with the Angels with a grain of salt is that six of the eight losses came from mid-to-late July. That was when the Red Sox were in, well, a bit of a mess over Manny Ramirez's growing dissatisfaction in Boston.

In fact, the last time the Red Sox played the Angels was the last series Ramirez played in a Boston uniform. The day after the Angels took it to the Sox to the tune of 9-2, Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers in a three-team swap that brought Jason Bay to Boston.

"We've played well -- really well -- since the Trade Deadline," said Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek. "I think this is a good ballclub."

Now, the Red Sox will get the truest test of all against the Angels -- opening on the road, no less.
The 2007 version of the Red Sox had home-field advantage in every round, so the road to repeating will be harder right from the outset. But Boston was also the Wild Card team in 2004, when it took home-field advantage away from Anaheim.

The Sox were also successful in the Division Series without home-field advantage against the Cleveland Indians in 1999 and the Oakland Athletics in 2003.

"I think that's where experience could play a factor for us," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, "and I'm not always sure in a short series the visiting team is at such a disadvantage. If you split when you come home, you kind of stole home-court [advantage]. Of course you have to hold it when you come back. [In] a short series, anything can happen. Wherever we go, we're going to be ready to play. It's going to be an exciting series."

Game 1 figures to be a brilliant pitching matchup between Josh Beckett, who has been a legend in his two Octobers, and Angels ace John Lackey.

"Well, the last time we faced [Lackey], he almost no-hit us," said Pedroia. "He threw the ball great. He does a lot of things well. He always keeps his defense on their toes. He attacks the strike zone. Cutter, sinker -- a lot of weapons. We have to find a way to score some runs on him."
But the Angels should have a similar challenge against Beckett, who was 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA last postseason.

"It's great, because Josh has pitched so many big postseason games," said Red sox right fielder J.D. Drew. "You realize when he's on the mound, you've got a great chance to win. Just give him enough runs to do it."

Speaking of scoring runs, these Angels are far more adept at that than the decimated unit they were at this time a year ago. They've added Torii Hunter and Mark Teixeira to a lineup that already included the great Vladimir Guerrero.

Then, there is the bullpen. As always seems to be the case, the Angels are dominant in relief.
"They've got a good club," said Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey. "They've got a good pitching staff, a good lineup from top to bottom. They do things to harass you during the games, as far as guys stealing and hit-and-runs. They've got a good bullpen. They do everything. They're a solid baseball team."

If the Red Sox have a concern going into this ALDS, it is health. Both Lowell and Drew are question marks.

Drew has played in just one game since Aug. 17 because of lower back woes. Lowell is playing with severe pain, thanks to a partial tear of the labrum in his right hip.

The Red Sox will do their best to get as healthy as possible before Wednesday.

"The important thing for us is to get our house in order, be healthy and try to get everybody enough at-bats, but not too many," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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