No Beckett? No problem. Jon Lester has been doling out the awesome by the metric ton this season, and last night/this morning’s blockbuster performance in game one of the ALDS only makes me want to hook myself up to an automatic ass-kicking machine as self-punishment for ever voting to unload him to the Twins for Santana.

At first, he looked like a candidate for an early shower, giving up a couple hits and a walk in the first inning. But he never cracked. Never buckled. Stayed focused (see the photo above for his “focused” face). And LA never got another chance to touch him. Through the first five innings, when our offense looked as if it’d have an easier time tying a knot in a stream of piss than getting a clutch hit, Lester turned it on, knocking the Angels off balance, striking out seven, and keeping the boys in the game until Jason Bay — who, as a member of the Pirates, was typically on to his third month of golf by the first week of October — clocked a two-run homer to put us on top. Lester came back the next inning to strike out the side, and we would have forgiven him if he’d pulled a quick “bite my tweeter” to the home team’s dugout as an homage to Derek Lowe. But he didn’t. And it didn’t matter. We were ahead and we never looked back.

It’s just one game. And as the masters of being backed against a wall only to end up winning such series, we know it’s too early to start booking hotels for the ALCS. But with key members of our team literally limping their way into Anaheim, with every member of the press earmarking the Sox for an early exit from the 2008 playoffs, with all this pomp and circumstance about the Angels being the best team in baseball, with all this talk of how the Anderson-Teixeira-Guerrero axis was going to treat our starting pitchers like inmates on their first night in prison, and with Josh Beckett on ice, this win was enormous. Bottom line is we played some very good baseball, and made some pretty f@#king sweet plays; in fact, video of Ellsbury’s spectacular snag of a Teixeira pop fly should be on its way to the Hall of Fame this morning. And even though Drew and Lowell went a combined 0-for-8, we saw signs that Ellsbury might have been visited by the Ghost of 2007 Post-season Ellsbury–and that bodes well for all of us.

Again, we know it ain’t over. Far from it, in fact. But this first game win was huge. And it presents the possibility that we could finish this thing up at Fenway Park, where many an Angels postseason dream has been chloroformed.

Hell, I’m so wired, I may just hit the Cocoa Puffs and Red Bull right now. No sleep til Brookline, people. And cue the celebratory Remy Dance: