The Red Sox jubilantly celebrate their 4th walk-off of 2009 and 10th win in row @ Fenway. (AP Photo)
Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls - mark your calenders, for come the first week in October your Boston Red Sox will be playing in the 2009 MLB Playoffs. Last night is most certainly a preview of what the ALDS will look like as the Red Sox and Angels seem destined once again to square off in the first round. The Red Sox have played in the ALDS five times so far in the 2000's and they've faced the Angels three of those times, beating them each and every series. The contests haven't even been very close as the Sox hold a record of 9-1 against the Angels in these playoff meetings, and that's a trend I sure hope continues. The Angels certainly don't seem comfortable playing the Red Sox as the weather gets cooler and that was evident last night as they showed both a lack of guts and too much frustration.
For all the bitching and whining Mike Scioscia and his Angels may have about some questionable calls (yes that was strike three against Nick Green - but still, an absolutely epic AB) - in a game that was as back and forth and weird as this one last night, it seems seems rather short sighted to pinpoint one particular moment in the game. The Angels probably should have wrapped this one up in the 6th inning had it not been for some sloppy defense up the middle, however thanks to V-Tek (still calls a great game right!) the Sox had their own error that allowed the Angels to not only get back in it, but re-gain the lead. Also don't forget, the Angels choked two times with the bases-loaded and only one out, and that fault certainly wasn't the umps. Basically what I'm saying here is that both teams had their chances, and neither could deliver a knock-out punch until the bottom of the ninth.
My favorite part about this win is that the Red Sox did it completely and thoroughly as a team. Each player who was active played a role in this. From Byrd, to Saito, to Lowrie, to Kotchman, to....well - everyone. Gonzo's continuing to be a shot of Red Bull to this team, and Nick Green showed a lot of guts with his at-bat, one of the best of the year so far, can't say enough about everything he's done for the Sox this year as Nick may very well be our unsung MVP. Also to consider is the fact that we won this game without our number three or four hitters (Youk & v-Mart)- and also without Papelbon. This was a character building win if I've ever seen one, and with the whole team being involved it should go a very, very long way.
Here's the difference between these two teams. When Gonzo hits that flare to LF in the bottom of the 9th Juan Rivera has to dive after that ball. I guarantee you that if the tables were turned Jay Bay goes all out for that ball. No way he lets it drop @ his ankles without getting dirty, and that's the difference, when the going gets tough in these intense games the Angels get going, and that's fine by me.
And to properly celebrate this walk-off, I present to you this classic: