Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Big 6th inning and tough bullpen propel Sox into ALCS
The Cinderella stories in both leagues continue as the potential for a Red Sox v. Cubs World Series remains intact after Boston pulled out a 4-3 series clinching victory in Oakland despite the Athletics bases-loaded threat in the bottom of the ninth. Derek Lowe excelled once again in his former role, closer. Adam Melhuse got the nod over Jermaine Dye and looked a back door breaking ball for strike three and after Chris Singleton loaded the bases, Terrence Long was frozen by almost the exact same pitch.

A moment of trepidation overcame Network Associate's Coliseum in the 7th when Damian Jackson and Johnny Damon viciously collided while converging on a Dye flyball. Jackson walked off under his power, but Damon was carted off on a stretcher and in an ambulance. Reports are that it's a concussion and he will be all right. His status for the New York series is uncertain. The Red Sox enter their first LCS since 1999.

Meanwhile, Oakland begins dealing with the tag of playoff chokers. After their perennial second-half firestorms into the playoffs, they seem to simply run of out juice when it really counts in October. Tonight's loss extended their record streak of 9 straight losses with advancement on the table.

The hero, or at least one of the heroes for Boston, was the much-maligned Manny Ramirez. His continual sour attitude on and off the field drew the ire of teammates throughout the season. One thing is unquestionable though, and that is his talent. A talent that was on display tonight as his three-run homer led the 4-run 6th inning charge that would eventually be the difference. Now, they prepare for a common foe, the heavily-hated New York Yankees. The series begins later this week, meanwhile in the NL, the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins begin their LCS tomorrow night at 8 eastern.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Red Sox v. Athletics: Game 5
Where does baseball stand with the fans? A sure to be thrilling game 5 between the beloved Red Sox and small-market overachieving A's battles a Monday Night Football game between with Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. Surely this won't be the true barometer, but seeing what kind of number the Pedro Martinez v. Barry Zito matchup pulls will be interesting. The ultimate litmus test would be if the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox made it all the way to the World Series, or even one of them given their storied histories of futility.

For Martinez, this is a chance to really shut up any and all critics. After all the fueding between he and the media about being diva and wanting to leave Boston, etc, Martinez is in a position to avenge all of that and push the Sox into the second round. However, if the Sox fail to notch the victory on account of a poor Pedro outing, then the critics will almost certainly come down harder on him and it may end his tenure in Boston.

With the way they've choked away the last two games and the problems surrounding a possible bar altercation involving Tim Hudson, I don't know that the Athletics are focused enough to win tonight. In fact, I predict the Boston bats to really get going tonight for somewhere in the 7-9 run region. Oakland will come up short once again and allow talks of postseason failures (see also: Braves, Atlanta) to continue.

Time is short... analysis of the game and previews of round 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.