Josh Beckett was particularly Josh Becketty last night, smothering the Angels with a complete-game, four-hit shutout and basically stopping short of hog-tying Garret Anderson, stomping OC’s sack lunch and forcing Mike Scioscia to watch 20 minutes of grainy footage of a drunk Mike Timlin pleasuring Mrs. Scioscia (and if you don’t think such footage exists, well, I think you’re just fooling yourself).
It was an awesome, opposition’s-spirit-crushing performance, one that the Angels players will have to chew on for the next 48 hours. It was also an exclamation point on his twenty-win season, which, as the lovely Kristen points out on her blog today, was no fluke.
How good was he? After giving up a leadoff single to Chone “greatest. name. ever.” Figgins, Beckett retired the next nineteen Angels, getting a first-pitch strike on fifteen in a row. Batters 5 through 9 in the Anaheim line-up went 1-for-15 with four strikeouts. The Sox’ defense could have held a bake sale on Lansdowne or performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the outfield (complete with Tina Cervasio as Hermia) and they probably wouldn’t have been missed. When he was hitting 98 mph in the eighth inning, most of the Angels’ thoughts likely turned to post-game pizza and the hot college chicks at Daisy Buchanans.
Some interesting quotes on Commander Kick Ass from the OC Register:
Garret Anderson: “He threw ‘Strike one.’ That pretty much sums it up right there. He kept with his game plan. He got ahead of hitters. Then once he got the lead, he didn’t try to get fancy out there. He stuck with, ‘Strike one.’”
David Ortiz: “Man, let me tell you — some of the innings I watched it on TV on the screen that we have downstairs (in the clubhouse). Even on TV, he looked filthy. Even on TV, you would be like, ‘Oh, he could have hit that? No, I don’t think so.’ I mean, he was right on.”
Reggie Willits: “He was different each time I faced him tonight. First time, he was throwing that two-seam fastball, and I got some foul balls and finally got a pitch to hit and didn’t really get it (flyball to left). Next time he was throwing a cutter and a changeup, and then he went with curveballs (for strikeouts both times). He’s got that 12 to 6 curveball and sometimes it goes into the dirt and sometimes it stops there for a strike. I don’t think it happens very often, when a guy has everything working. He made it hard for us to get into our game.”
Admittedly, when I saw umpire Tim Tschida — he of the infamous “phantom tag” during the 1999 ALCS against the Yankees — working the game, I feared the worst. Sure enough, about 45 minutes in, Julio Lugo was called out stealing second when anyone with eyes could see he’d beaten the tag by a good ten seconds. But then Ortiz came up the next inning, crushed a two-run homer to right, and reminded us all of his badness of ass come playoff time. And that there was really no need to worry.
Of course, this all puts immense pressure on Matsuzaka for Friday’s game two. If he stumbles out of the box, if the Angels offense tears him up but good, there’ll be talk of how sticking with Schilling in game two might have given us a better chance of heading out west with a commanding 2-0 advantage. But if he wins, well, that gives Schilling a chance to close this thing out, with Beckett waiting in the wings, just in case. And I can’t think of a better position to be in.
Lastly, as I noted in Saturday’s post, one of the coolest things about watching the Sox’ post-clinch shindig was seeing Tina Cervasio in the midst of it all, omnipresent smile on her face, hair matted with champagne and Bud Light. But it could have been worse. As Dan at Red Sox Monster points out, Bugs and Cranks has screen grabs of former Springfield newsie Jade McCarthy looking like the lone girl at a frat party after the Phillies clinched the NL East. Still, something tells me The Mouth of Truth could party circles around her.
Yankees/Indians tonight at 6:30pm. See you then.