Wednesday, October 03, 2007

2007 ALDS Game 1: Thunderstruck

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 0

THUNDER Ohwoahwoaaaahwoah...THUNDER

About two years ago, when rumors about Josh Beckett's impending arrival in Boston first hit the tubes of the Internets, my first thought was of the final game of the 2003 World Series; a game that went down in the record books as Josh Beckett's second complete game shutout of the 2003 post-season, and sealed his claim for the 2003 World Series MVP award. That moment in time crystallized all of my expectations of the coming Josh Beckett era: the Sox would return to the post-season, Beckett would be on the mound, and good things would happen. As simple as that.

I was caught/In the middle of a railroad track (THUNDER)
Looked around/And I knew there was no turning back (THUNDER)

Two post-seasons later, the stars had finally aligned, and Beckett, now the clear ace of the staff, made the start that flirted with perfection while it stayed grounded in reality. Despite - or perhaps as a result of - blowing the opportunity for his 21st win about a week ago, Beckett took matters in hand for game one and set the table for the rest of the series, with nine innings of eight strikeout gas, a host of emotional, fiery pitching bottled down into strikeouts and ground outs and fly balls that went nowhere outside of a fielder's glove. The masterful Texan even managed to add a glaze of humanity to his dish of seared Angel by starting the game by taking Chone Figgins to three and two, before surrendering an anti-climactic single off the glove of Pedroia. Was there a hint of panic in the eyes of the pitcher? A sinking feeling in the stomach of every Red Sox fan? Of course - these are the moments that define the playoffs. Then all of the nervousness disappeared, the clouds parted, and a demi-god took control.

My mind raced/And I thought what could I do? (THUNDER)
And I knew/There was no help, no help from you (THUNDER)

Nineteen batters. That's how many men came and went to the plate in succession of 1-2-3 innings between the first and second Angels hits of the game, between Chone Figgins off the glove of Pedroia, and Vladimir Guerrero past the legs of the surprised Beckett and into center field. In between, four Red Sox runs, blessings of the long bomb off the bats of Youkilis and Papi, a single by Lowell to score Ramirez. Shaky John Lackey escaped with less damage than one might expect, but the Boston bats probably wondered, "why let our starter get cold on a night like this one?" and punctuated the evening air with only those offensive actions necessary to carve a win in the stone of Beckett's unhittable fastball.

Beatin' in my heart/The thundering guns!/Tore me apart/You've been...THUNDERSTRUCK

I read something earlier today about teams that win the first game of the ALDS having especially good odds of winning the series; something about the momentum of the victory carrying the winning team on to eventual victory. It's something to mull about over the next two days, as we wait to see whether or not that momentum will carry our $110 million Zen Master to victory in game two on Friday. Until then, I'll have the savor of this sweet victory to tide me over. We'll be waiting, Angels...