posted 8 years ago
BOSTON –– As what’s become an all-too-familiar clubhouse celebration scene unfolded around him late Monday night, Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett wore a rare smile as he clutched a bottle of Korbel champagne.
Beckett was marveling at his team’s grit and resiliency, two traits that stood out not only in a 3-2 win in Game Four of the A.L. Division Series but throughout a 3-1 series victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
“They’re a really good baseball team,” Beckett said of the Angels. “On (Sunday) we go 12 innings and lose. Tonight’s (Monday night’s) game was the most critical game of the series and it’s 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth. They’re really close games. We couldn’t be more evenly matched.”
In the end, however, the Sox are moving on and the 100-win Angels are going home. Boston has now knocked L.A. out of the playoffs three times in the last six seasons. If the next two rounds of baseball’s playoffs are as exciting and well-played as this ALDS was, Red Sox fans had best brew plenty of coffee and reupholster their favorite chairs.
Here are a few items to ponder as the Sox prepare for a trip to Tampa Bay for Games One and Two of the ALCS Friday and Saturday.
•It’s a good thing Mike Scioscia isn’t working in New England. With one out and a runner on third base in the ninth inning, the Angels’ manager decided that a suicide squeeze was his team’s best route to a run. That’s called a high-risk move and when Erick Aybar couldn’t bunt a 96-mph fastball thrown by Manny Delcarmen, the choice backfired. Jason Varitek took the pitch and chased Reggie Willits back to third base, lunging at the end to tag him for a huge out.
The play will sting for days in Southern California. If this ever occurred in these parts, Scioscia would have some serious ’splaining to do. “If it works,” said the Angels’ Mark Teixeira, “it’s a great play. If it doesn’t, it’s tough to swallow.”