Opening day of the 2009 post-season went pretty much as expected. Cliff Lee shut down the Rockies (the team, not the mountains), the Dodgers beat the Cards and the Yankees thumped the Twins. The only surprise was that A-Rod came through for the pinstripes and CC got the win, throwing 113 pitches and yanking on his crotch at least that many times.
But that is all just an opening act as far as Red Sox Nation is concerned. Tonight, the second season begins. The Red Sox and Angels look very even in a lot of categories, but speaking I don’t see this road leading anywhere but to a Red Sox – Yankees ALCS showdown. And that isn’t the “homer” in me speaking, that’s after a long night of stat-crunching and Sabremetricing with no company but a cup of hot cocoa and a flask of Peppermint Schnapps.
The most glaring advantage the Sox have is the bullpen. The Angels have a lot of high-ERA guys trying to get to Fuentes, who has seven blown saves himself and sports an ERA twice that of Jon Papelbon’s. And while having history on our side may not mean anything, it seems like a sore subject for the Angels:
And it hasn’t even been close. The Angels have lost 12 of their last 13 postseason games against the Red Sox, including 9 of 10 over the last three series. Los Angeles hasn’t even led Boston for eight total innings of those last 10 games, and the Angels’ only win was a 12-inning nail-biter last season, snapping an 11-game losing streak in the matchup.
“Last year was last year,” snapped a smiling Torii Hunter, the Angels’ leader and most gregarious player. “I don’t want to talk about last year. You can if you want, but I don’t give a damn about last year.”
“I don’t think there is anything, really, to go back and analyze,” said Scioscia, the first manager to take a team to the playoffs six times in his first 10 seasons. “It’s a whole new set of variables, a whole new set of matchups. We know what the challenge is.”
“It’s a definite challenge, but it’s a new year,” Lackey said. “I’m one of the few guys that have been here for all of them. It was different pretty much every year.”
The time for talking ends at 9:37 tonight. See you there.