Friday, October 09, 2009
IS THE SKY REALLY FALLING?
Even in my gloomy "Angels in 4" prediction, I thought the Sox would prevail in Game 1. So how bad of shape are the Sox in right now? I won't sugar coat it. Things don't look good.
John Lackey was magnificent last night. And the Sox offense was dismal. In the 1st inning, they worked the counts a bit, but after that, Lackey was throwing too many strikes to take pitches, so at-bats grew shorter and shorter.
The Sox squandered some 2 out opportunities in the 4th and 6th, but other than that, they never mounted any kind of offense against Lackey.
Meanwhile, Lester had to pitch around CB Bucknor's missed calls at 1st base (how is HE a playoff umpire?), and Joe West's inconsistent low strike zone. Lackey got every knee-high pitch called a strike. Lester got every knee-high pitch called a ball. But unlike Mike "God's Gift to Managing" Scioscia, Francona won't blame the umps and neither will I.
Apart from the umpiring handicap, Lester did enough to screw himself. He walked 4, and one of those walks came back to bite him by scoring on Torii Hunter's homerun. What grinds my gears is that he was ahead of the count in the at-bat in which he walked that guy.
Ramon Ramirez put the icing on the cake in the 7th by loading the bases with a walk, hit batter, and infield single. The Sox were fortunate to leave that inning only down 5-0. But that was more than enough for Lackey and then Darren Oliver. The Angels' pen can implode, but 5 run implosions will be rare.
The Angels simply played better, in every aspect of the game. Torii Hunter got the timely hit no Sox batter could come up with. Lackey was lights out, Lester was only solid (and only for 6 innings). And all those CB Bucknor missed calls were allowed to happen by missed throws from Alex Gonzalez and Mike Lowell.
And no, Mike Scioscia and all his running, and all his bunting, none of that had anything to do with the Angels' win.
Game 2 is close to a must-win for the Sox. Tonight at 9:37 again: Beckett vs. Jared Weaver. We need a vintage Josh Beckett October outing.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
AP Photo/Chris Carlson