Monday, October 18, 2004

ALCS Game 4

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, New York Yankees 4

That was the most beautiful moment I have EVER had as a Red Sox fan. When that ball left Ortiz's bat, it was just like the end of Game 3 of the ALDS - even though it went the opposite way, you KNEW it was gone. That awkward swing which makes it look like he should just pop it up but sends the ball up and away was the hallmark of this homerun, just like Game 3. When it happened, I lost it completely. Just sat on my couch and cried and laughed until I was blinded by the stream of tears running down my face and the release of finally beating history. It took twelve innings, it was longest game in post-season history, but it was so worth it.

We (well, Ryan, technically) has DVR from TimeWarner and I couldn't resist...I had to watch the ball leave the bat and just sail away into the bullpen again. And again. And again. And hell, a fourth time. Simultaneously, almost every Red Sox fan I know is IMing me and we do the electronic equivalent of hugging and screaming and crying and giving high fives and all the business of such a warranted celebration. Man...I'm still all worked up by it. Before I go pass out from exhaustion of the soul, though, I record the events for posterity:

I start the game out calm, working on the laptop and watching tv on the couch, wearing my Sox hat and jersey. Nothing can flap me - I have submitted to the machinations of fate, so that even FOX does not bother me. Despite my prediction last night, Derek Lowe pitches an excellent game - besides a two run homerun to A-Rod, he does very very well, especially for someone who had his stats versus the Yankees.* Then, in the sixth, with one out, Lowe gives up a triple to Matsui. Now, unlike last night, Gary Sheffield did not have a great night - he was 0-ffer, in fact. Matsui, on the other hand, continued to be a hitting machine. Lowe had dealt similar problems throughout the game and had not given up any ground and I honestly saw the Matsui triple as an abberation to be pitched around in the professional manner that Lowe was showing. Terry Francona, however, felt otherwise. The Sox offense, to put it crudely, saved his ass tonight, because he made a huge mistake - playing the statistics instead of the flow of the game, he went for Mike Timlin instead of leaving in Lowe to deal with the problem. Even now, I don't understand why he so eager to get to his bullpen, which he's going to need when the series continues tomorrow.

Timlin has the misfortune of giving up two hits that were misplayed by the defense - one of them by Mark Bellhorn, who probably has very few friends in Boston at the moment. Two runs score and the Yankees pull ahead. Next inning, Francona brings in Keith Foulke, who goes on to do a phenominal job, pitching two and a third innings in relief. Embree comes out next and holds on for the next inning and a third. Meanwhile, the Yankees go from El Duque to Tanyon Sturtze to Mariano Rivera. Mariano, who is 6 for 6 in post season save chances. The post-season machine that Joe Torre plugs in every night after the game. But Mo walks Millar in the eighth. Dave Roberts comes in, steals a base in a clutch situation...and then up comes Bill Mueller. He doesn't reenact July 24th with a homerun, but he does the next best thing - he singles and drives in Roberts. Tie game. The machine has been defeated. Fenway Park explodes. Damon, who has done almost nothing this series, comes up and hits a little grounder that Tony Clark misplays and it's runners on first and third with one out, instead of two. Cabrera comes up and strikes out on three pitches, then Manny walks and Ortiz is called out on an iffy third strike call.

The game grinds on. Mike Myers comes on to walk Hideki Matsui, wasting five minutes. Curtis Leskanic comes on and keeps the Sox alive long enough to go through Flash in the tenth and eleventh...and then Torre brings on Paul Quantrill to face the heart of the Sox order. Manny comes up and hits a single to right. Good start. Big Papi comes up, takes a ball. Gets a high called strike. Takes a ball in the dirt. UNLOADS on pitch number four. At the moment, all they have is the plays of the game...but it still shows the homerun and includes Mueller's single. Here you go. Tomorrow (or this) evening we do it all again, starting at 5:00. Robin, who has been MIA all week will be here; it will be glorious. Truth be told, I don't care what happens tomorrow. Sure, I want the Sox to win the next three games and go on to the World Series and just keep establishing history like it ain't no thing. But they weren't swept (screw you, AMNew York**) and they made history and they beat Mariano. I got my money's worth. GOOOOOO SOX!!!!!

* - I'm so bad about these things that I probably should start taking out odds against my predictions and make some money...but I digress.
** - AMNew York predicted a Yankee sweep before game one. SO glad that didn't happen.