When you’re up against guys like Manny and Ortiz, you have to pick your poison. Mike Scioscia picked Manny and paid the price. In the fifth, Escobar intentionally walked Ortiz to pitch to Manny, who worked a walk. In the ninth, K-Rod issued the free pass to Ortiz, and Manny hammered the 1-0 pitch over everything, carrying any hopes the Angels had of advancing far into the night.
Hard to believe, but it was Manny’s first walk-off homer as a member of the Red Sox. He couldn’t have picked a better time. This one was a bite-your-nails-all-the-way-down-to-the-second-knuckle-nuts-retracted-into-the-stomach kinda game. It took Dice-K thirty-something pitches to get out of the first inning, and you knew the bullpen would play a big part. JD Drew put the Sox ahead with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning, but Matsuzaka gave the lead away in the second and running his pitch count up near 60. From that point on, it was all pitching.
In the fifth, the Sox caught a rare break. With runners on first and third with one out, Manny popped up towards the stands near the on-deck circle. Jeff Mathis had his sights on the ball and reached into the stands, but a small pair of hands reached over his glove and caught the ball. Manny had a second life and worked a walk. Mike Lowell then hit a sac fly to score Pedroia from third to tie the game.
Then began the battle of the bullpens. Javier Lopez threw two pitches to get out of a first and third jam. Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima each recorded four outs, and Papelbon got a hard-earned last out in the eighth and stayed in for the ninth, popping up Cabrera, Napoli and Izturis around a Garret Anderson walk.
The Sox led off the bottom of the inning with a Lugo single. Dustin Pedroia hit a would-be double-play ball, but Francona had started the runner and the only play was at first. Youk struck out, and then Ortiz was walked, setting up the Manny heroics. His shot was a no-doubter from the moment it left the bat, and his personal celebration before going into the home run trot probably earned him a fastball to the back on Sunday, but this is October, we’ll deal with it.
At some point, we also learned the Yankees lost game two in Cleveland, among swarms of some nasty bugs. A-Rod continued his post-season magic, going 0-4 with three strikeouts. Who else but Kenny Lofton, scored the winning run in the 11th.
Things are lining up nicely for the Sox with Schilling on Sunday. Goodnight all.