I know I say this all the time, but it’s so true that it’s absolutely infuriating. The minute Mike Timlin sets foot on the mound; no, not even. The minute Mike Timlin sets foot out of the bullpen, you can mark that down as a loss. I knew it was over the minute Tito picked up the phone. And that’s a shame, because everyone played eleven innings of textbook baseball.
Everyone except Josh Beckett. And that kills me. Granted, this is a bigger win for the Rays than it is a loss for us, and sure, we’re about to have three games at Fenway, but guess which one we’re likely to lose? Not the Lester game. Not even the Wakefield game. If there’s any game that’ll give us trouble for sure, it’s the Beckett game, because not even a start by Wakefield is a guaranteed loss these days. I never thought I’d see this day. Beckett pitched just over four innings and in that time made a spectacular pickoff move but also managed to give up eight runs on nine hits, three of which were long balls. We should have seen this coming, but we didn’t because our immediate thought was that it’s Josh Beckett, so he’ll pull it together in October, just like he always does. But he finished the season with a 4.03 ERA which by Beckett standards is high, and home runs and his health has been an issue all year. But what a bad time for all of this to manifest itself. What a bad time. He’s a workhorse and a competitor, so naturally he anticipated he’d be fine, and he said so himself, but something’s obviously not right here. It’s one thing to want to go out there and redeem yourself and help your team, but it’s another thing to realize that sometimes the best way to help your team is to not help at all.
The bullpen, except for Timlin, was absolutely outstanding. Absolutely outstanding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better outing for the ‘pen this year. Lopez, Delcarmen, Okajima, Masterson, and Papelbon combined to give up only three hits, no runs, and absolutely no walks. No walks! Can you believe that? That’s some good stuff. In fact, going into this game our pitching staff had a postseason ERA of 2.81. That says a lot for John Farrell. On the other hand, in less than an inning Timlin gave up a hit and walked three, and the rest is history. It was heartbreaking and devastating.
We did everything we could, though. Youk went three for six with an RBI and a solo home run. Dustin Pedrioa the Destroyah went three for five with a walk, two RBIs, and two solo home runs. Dustin Pedroia is back, baby! This seems to be his M.O. Last October his bat was pretty quiet until the ALCS started heating up, so we can expect some serious fireworks from him. But the man of the hour is, without a doubt, Jason Bay. Jason Bay went three for five with a walk, four RBIs, and a solo home run. Four RBIs! The man is a natural in the postseason! I guess they don’t call it the Bay state for nothing.
Two of our deadliest weapons thus far this October have been the two-strike hit and the two-out hit. I don’t think I’ve ever see another team do more with two strikes or two outs. To perform that well under that kind of pressure is a very valuable skill this time of year for obvious reasons. It means you can never count us out. Ever.
In other news, last night’s seven home runs tied the Major League record for most home runs in a postseason contest. Rays fans were already leaving by the ninth inning. Who does that? Bottom of the ninth, tied playoff game. Who just gets up and leaves? I’ll never be able to understand that.
We’ve got the day off today and then three games in Boston. That’ll give us a substantial home field advantage, and we’ll need it because we have some serious ground to cover. Being tied with the Rays in the series doesn’t seem like a big deal, but against this team it’s important to conquer early. And what better place to do that than at Fenway Park? It’ll be Garza at Lester Monday afternoon. Lester’s our ace. He’ll get it done.