Sox Sweep Angels

Saturday, October 9th, 2004 @ 4:11 pm | Sports

Playoff baseball at Fenway Park is a completely different animal than anything I’ve ever experienced. When you’re in the crowd, the highs come higher and faster, the lows come lower and harder. That’s the only way I can think to explain it.

When David Ortiz sent Jarrod Washburn‘s first and final pitch of the evening over the Green Monster to send the Red Sox to the ALCS, Fenway Park absolutely exploded. All the stress that had been building since Vladimir Guerrero‘s 7th inning Grand Slam came bursting out in a celebration that was unlike anything I’d experienced. We hung around for a good 15 minutes or so just clapping and screaming.

This was a far cry from the reaction when Guerrero’s shot left the park. I saw the ball in the air. I saw Trot Nixon, who was tracking the ball, start to slow. I looked for Johnny Damon and saw him coming to a stop. I saw the ball clearing the fence. I turned around, put my head against the wall, and said some things I really shouldn’t have said (after all, there were small children at the park). I’ve had bad reactions to plays that have gone against the Red Sox, but I’ve never reacted that poorly to a single play (not even Aaron Boone‘s homer in last year’s ALCS). I was so sucked into the Fenway environment that everything was that much more important.

For 6+ innings, Bronson Arroyo showed a national audience why he was pitching Game 3 of a playoff series and Derek Lowe was sitting in the bullpen, waiting for the phone to ring.

Arroyo pitched brilliantly, striking out seven while allowing only two runs. The first of those runs was a mammoth home run by Troy Glaus, the second was a runner who scored on a Mike Timlin walk after Arroyo was was lifted from the game.

When I watch Arroyo pitch, it amazes me to think that he’s being paid less than 10% of what the Red Sox presumed 5th, Byung-Hyun Kim, was paid to spend most of the year at Pawtucket.

The meat of the Angels bullpen finally showed up last night, with Brendan Donnely throwing 2 1/3 shutout innings and Francisco Rogriguez dominated for another 2 2/3 innings. Then Mike Scioscia decided to “manage” and bring in the left-handed Jarrod Washburn to face David Ortiz with a man on first and two down.

Meanwhile, Troy Percival was still in the Angels bullpen. The same Troy Percival who saved 33 games during the regular season. The same Troy Percival who hadn’t yet appeared in the playoffs.

This was after Mike Scioscia said that Anaheim didn’t have any left-handed relievers on the roster because there was nobody available that he liked better than his all-right-handed staff.

Last year, I told people I thought Grady Little bought into the hype when he sent Tim Wakefield in to pitch relief against the Yankees. The Sox bullpen wasn’t particularly taxed and they still had several power arms available. However, the media had been badgering Grady about whether Wakefield would pitch in relief against the Yankees since he’d been so dominant in his two starts.

This year, Scioscia got a number of questions about not having a left hander in the pen. When the season was on the line, he bought into the hype. Instead of going with his best available pitcher, Scioscia went with his left-handed Game 1 started. One pitch later, the Sox were celebrating and the Angels were trudging home.

I snapped a roll of photos at the game and I’m really curious to see if they came out. I should pick them up on Wednesday and I’ll try to scan them in shortly after that.

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