So let me get this straight.
Suddenly Jonathan Papelbon can’t protect a 2-run lead in the 9th inning of a playoff game and Alex Rodriquez is Mr. October?
I’d better call Hyder and make sure that he’s not around any sharp objects.
I’ll get to Papelbon in a moment but first, kudos to Clay Buchholz. He was a little bit shaky with a 5-1 lead in the 6th inning, but he gave the Red Sox five solid innings in his first postseason start and would have been the winning pitcher if his pen pals didn’t blow the lead.
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Clay won’t have to worry about beginning 2010 in Pawtucket – he’s earned his spot in the Red Sox rotation for next year. Now he can turn his attention to his mid-November wedding to Lindsay Clubine. Since she’s one of the hosts of the travel show Get Out! on HDNet, they’re bound to have a spectacular honeymoon.
Jonathan Papelbon might want to take a nice vacation too, because I’m sure he’s going to be going over every pitch he threw in Game 3 for weeks if not months.
Prior to Sunday’s disaster, Papelbon had not allowed a run in 17 postseason outings covering 26 innings. It was an incredible streak, but it was bound to end eventually. Mariano Rivera had not allowed a run in more than 30 consecutive postseason innings when he took the mound with a 1-run lead in the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. Rivera promptly gave up two runs to the Diamondbacks to cost the Yankees the championship.
In other words, hits happen.
The Yanks have not been back to the World Series since, but if A-Rod continues to hit the way he did in New York’s sweep over Minnesota, I have a hard time believing that the Angels are going to keep the Yanks out of the fall classic.
Rodriquez batted .455 in the series (5-for-11) with 2 HR and 6 RBI and the home runs were both huge.
In Game 2, his 2-run blast off closer Joe Nathan tied the game in the 9th inning. In Game 3, the Yankees were trailing 1-0 in the 7th when A-Rod homered off of former PawSox Carl Pavano to turn the tide in what became 4-1 New York win.
Rodriquez entered the 2009 postseason 0-for-27 with runners in scoring position dating back to the 2004 ALCS. His is rapidly exorcizing his playoff demons.
As shocking as the end to the Red Sox/Angels series was, I can’t say that I’m surprised that Boston did not make it to the World Series. When the Yankees swept the Red Sox in that 4-game series in the Bronx in August, I think most of us got the feeling that this just wasn’t Boston’s year.
Sometimes it sucks to be right.
* * * * *
I was amused to see Dustin Pedroia take a shot at the Fenway Park grounds crew after Sunday’s loss.
A tricky hop prevented Pedroia from turning a potential double play in the 8th inning and he didn’t mince words after the game.
“Our infield sucks,” Pedroia told reporters, “it’s the worst in the game. I’m not lying about that. That is true. Took a bad hop. I just tried to put my body in front of it to get an out. I think about those things, too. That stuff upsets me. Like my job is to take 1,000 ground balls today and the other guys’ job is to get the field perfect so we can play baseball.”
That’s classic Pedroia. During his time with the PawSox, Dustin was a chronic complainer – but not in a mean-spirited way. He gives maximum effort at all times and demands the same from everyone around him.
That’s why he’s made himself one of the most unlikely superstars in the game.