Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ace in the Hole

Jon Lester officially had his coming-out party last night. We've seen what the kid's capable of all year, but his performance in Game 1 of the ALDS against the stocked Angels was nothing short of spectacular. Lester's gem was backed by a huge 2-run homer off the bat of Everyday Jason Bay, and by some superlative play - in the field and at the plate - from Jacoby Ellsbury. Sox draw first blood with a 4-1 victory.

It was hard to keep the eyes open for this one, but if you did you were well-rewarded. Lester started off a little rough, but once he escaped a couple of jams he was in the zone, keeping the Angels hitters off balance with an assortment of curves, cutters, and fastballs. Bay, after looking bad in his first couple of at-bats, smashed a bomb off John Lackey in the top of the 6th to give the Sox a 2-1 lead, and they added two insurance runs in the top of the 9th to take some pressure off Jonathan Papelbon.

Ellsbury had three hits on the night, stole at will, and made a jaw-dropping sliding catch in center off Mark Teixeira that is destined for the year-in-review highlight reels.

On the pivotal play of the game, the Angels' well-documented aggression on the basepaths came back to bite them in the butt. With the score still 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th, Vladimir Guerrero got on with a single, and Torii Hunter followed that with a bloop hit over Kevin Youkilis into short right-field. Vladdy was confused on where the ball was, and hesitated before rounding second and heading to third. Youk - summoning his Derek Jeter-like intangibles - grabbed the ball quickly and threw to Mike Lowell, who applied the tag. Instead of men on first and second with one out, it was man on first with two. A huge turn of events.

So looking back at my "predictions" yesterday, maybe I was wrong on the Sox (happily) and the Cubs, who lost a heartbreaker to the Dodgers yesterday (man, is that a cursed crowd or what?) The Phillies beat the Brewers in their first game, and the Rays and White Sox get underway this afternoon.

Sox and Angels take a break today and get back at it tomorrow night, with Dice-K going against Ervin Santana. All of a sudden, things is looking up.

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