Well, I went 1 for 3 in my predictions today but the Red Sox beat the Angels 4-1 so I'll take it. What a great win.
Make sure you remember this entry, folks. I'm about to admit how wrong I was about John Lester a year ago. His heroic battle with cancer aside, I wasn't very high on him even when he came up a few years ago. I thought he was a soft, mid-level pitcher who didn't have what it took to be successful at this level. Dumb....Dumb.....Dumb....
7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 7 K. That's a stat line that would make Josh Beckett jealous. He worked both sides of the plate and (possibly unintentionally) busted his fastball in on right handers. His curve ball was hard and had a lot of late movement. These Angel hitters became more and more over matched as the game moved along. Something else that needs to be noted here is after Jed Lowrie's error, Lester remained poised and induced a ground ball from Torii Hunter to end the inning. Realizing there was a lot of baseball left to play is not the easiest thing to keep in mind at that point but he stayed calm and kept on pitching. Varitek's game calling was also important in that he got Lester through a few tough spots and kept the hitters off balance with his pitch selection,
Jason Bay looked awful his first few at bats against Lackey's curve ball. It leads me to wonder why Lackey didn't force Bay to prove to him he could hit it, especially if you take into account Bay's recent struggles with breaking balls.
My first year watching baseball with great fervor was 1995. I, like all 4th graders, was a huge Ken Griffey Jr. fan. Everyone remembers his huge series against the Yankees (5 home runs) but few remember how the Mariners lost in the following round against a great Cleveland team. Kenny Lofton was the spark on that team and had 11 hits while stealing 5 bases. He was a terror for Seattle pitchers and what he did that series is reminiscent of what Jacoby Ellsbury started for the Red Sox tonight. Ellsbury had 3 hits, 2 stolen bases and may have saved the game in the 8th with a spectacular catch. This post season could be his official coming out party.
As I watched Vlad Guerrero limp (unsuccessfully) from first to third, I realized to what degree his leg injuries have robbed him of his once-40+ stolen base speed. Kind of sad in a way. Props to Kevin Youkilis for getting to that ball (that his barely missed) and throwing it right away. With the condition of Lowell's hip, I was surprised he was able to turn quickly and tag Guerrero out.
Derek Lowe (who proved me wrong tonight with 6 innings of 2-run ball) compared himself to Justin Masterson when he talked to Nick Cafardo in Sunday's Globe. The more I think about it, it's not just the roles that are similar (which they are). They both have some of the best sinking stuff in the majors. If anything, Masterson throws harder and has far more upside. I realize its hard to compare Masterson to a guy who won three clinching games in the '04 post season but he's on his way.
The stunned looks on the faces of Angels fans was interesting. First of all where's the confidence in your team? Secondly, let me remind you the RED SOX are the defending champs, not your team. It is in the realm of possibility for the Sox to take the lead or (gasp) win! Act like you've watched post season baseball before. Thanks.
Well I have to be up in four hours for work and couldn't be happier. I'll have NL updates tomorrow.