|Game 1 Post-Game Reaction, Notes and Quotes||10.02.08 at 1:14 am ET|
TOP 1: LESTER’S EARLY STRUGGLES
Jon Lester, who wound up logging seven innings and allowing just one unearned run, said that “a little bit of everything” was working. “It seemed like once the game started flowing I got better command.”
But he was in trouble early, loading the bases on a pair of soft hits and a walk. But he escaped a two-out, bases-loaded jam by getting Howie Kendrick to hit into a force out at third.
“It was a tough inning. Just trying to find a rhythm,” said Lester. “I thought I was making good pitches. They were just getting enough of the bat on there to get it through the hole or into the outfield. (I) was fortunate enough to bear down and get a weak ground ball to (Mike Lowell) to step on third and get out of there without any runs.”
BOTTOM 3: ANGELS TAKE A 1-0 LEAD
With a runner on first and two outs, Jon Lester seemed like he was out of the third inning. Vlad Guerrero hit a bounder to shortstop Jed Lowrie that seemed like an easy third out. But Lowrie, who did not make a single error in the regular season, booted the ball, and with two outs, a Torii Hunter single gave the Halos a 1-0 lead.
“Last time I checked, I don’t think too many shortstops made it through their whole careers without an error. But the first one came at a bad time,” said Lowrie. “For a while there, I thought it was going to be the difference in the game because Lackey was pitching so well.”
TOP 6: BAY’S HOMER
The Sox trailed 1-0 through five, and Angels starter John Lackey looked dominant. He had struck out Jason Bay both times he faced him on curveballs. But Bay got a fastball over the plate and crushed it into left-field to give the Sox a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish.
“The first two at-bats I never faced Lackey and he has that good breaking ball and he got out ahead of me. Out of his hand it was looking pretty good and finally at the third at-bat he threw me one that wasn’t getting over and I felt like I got into a better rhythm,” said Bay. “I felt like, ‘Okay, I’m seeing the ball.’…He left a fastball up and I hit it and after that you gain a little confidence…I couldn’
t have picked a better kind of first (playoff) game, I guess.”
Bay had seen the Manny Ramirez homer–a golf shot of a ball that was away and barely off the ground–during pre-game batting practice. (The Dodgers game was playing on the scoreboard in Angel Stadium.) But as has been the case since he arrived in Boston, Bay felt no added pressure as a result of it.
“I think Mike Lowell said, ‘Geez—did you see that pitch he hit out?’ So I was trying to see what he did,” Bay said. “Obviously he’s one of the best players—one of the best postseason players—of all time, regardless of where he’s at. I think a lot of us enjoy watching him. We crossed paths in the air which kind of helped me a little bit. I didn’t know him that much and I didn’
t know the situation that was here before so I think that works to my advantage.”
BOTTOM 6: LESTER STRIKES OUT THE SIDE
After the Sox gave him a 2-1 lead, Lester responded by striking out Howie Kendrick (91 m.p.h. fastball), Mike Napoli (76 m.p.h. curve) and Gary Matthews, Jr. (90 m.p.h. cutter).
“He came with a vengeance,” said manager Terry Francona. “Once we took the lead, he really went after ‘
“I was just trying to go out and get a shut-down inning, get the lead,” said Lester. “The momentum kinda comes back on our side. To be able to get our offense back in the dugout and back up to the plate I think helped us a lot get through that game.”
BOTTOM 8: RED SOX DEFENSE
The bottom of the eighth was an unusual inning all around. Red Sox reliever Justin Masterson, who typically leans heavily–sometimes almost exclusively–on his sinker, said he threw just one two-seamer in his first postseason inning. He did not give up a run, in no small part because of spectacular execution behind him.
Mark Teixeira, leading off the eighth for the Angels, hit a shallow pop to center. Ellsbury was playing deep against the power hitter, and had to cover an enormous span of ground before laying out for a sprawling catch.
“It looked like he had no chance,” said manager Terry Francona. “I thought it was in no man’s land.”
“I got a good jump on the ball,” said Ellsbury. “I wasn’
t sure I was going to be able to get to it. Fortunately, I got to it. The next batter got a base hit, so it ended up being a big out.”
“At that point in the game we were up by a run with the meat of the order coming in,” said Jason Bay. “He comes in and closes down that ball. It could have been a different story. That was awesome.”
After Vladimir Guerrero singled to left with one out, Torii Hunter blooped a pop-up just past the infield dirt and down the right field line. Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis tracked it and extended to make a play, but could not come up with the over-the-shoulder catch. He did, however, pop up quickly and discovered that Guerrero was rounding second and heading for third. Youkilis picked up the ball quickly and fired to third baseman Mike Lowell. Though Lowell’s mobility has been severely limited by a tear of the labrum in his hip, he caught the ball and managed to run a couple steps to tag out Guerrero for the second out of the inning.
“I think Vladi just gambled. If you’re on third, it’s a great play. If it doesn’t work out, there will be some second guessing,” Lowell said. “Kinda weird. I was hoping (Youkilis) would catch the ball. I just saw Vladi take off. I didn’t even think he was going to third. Youk’s throw was actually off-line. It worked perfect. (Shortstop) Jed (Lowrie) didn’t cut it, I was standing right there and he was out by a mile. I think it was a big play…Without that play, it’s first and third, one out. So I think it kind of changes the scope of the game.”
Though Lowell is struggling physically–he had aggravated his hip on a check swing in the top of the eighth–he was resolute about recording the out.
“I know I’m limited,” he said. “But I would have tackled Vladi if I had to.”
TOP 9: INSURANCE
With the Sox ahead 2-1, Jed Lowrie led off the ninth with a single, advanced to second on Jason Varitek’s sac bunt and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single to right. Ellsbury, who went 3-for-5 and is hitting .476 in his last five postseason games, would then steal second (his second steal of the night) and score on a David Ortiz single. Ellsbury tried to downplay his early postseason accomplishments.
“Fortunately, I’ve had some good games,” he said. “It’
s just nice to win. You might have a nice game but you might lose.”
BOTTOM 9: PAPELBON SHUTS THE DOOR
Jonathan Papelbon struck out three Angels in the ninth, showing a mid-90s heater (used to strike out Mike Napoli and Chone Figgins) and a biting splitter that he used to fan Erick Aybar.
“I think tonight I had my split-finger working pretty well,” said Papelbon. “When I have that working, I’
m able to go out there and be just a little bit more dominant with my fastball.”
POST-GAME MEDICAL REPORT
Mike Lowell, who is dealing with a torn labrum in his hip and had to prove over the 24 hours before Game 1 that he could play in the field, said that, “overall, defensively, I felt pretty good…When guys swing and foul the ball off, you’re trying to make that first step. I think that’s what was kind of grabbing at me before. I think I passed that test. There were, like, 40 foul balls.”
Lowell anticipates that he will feel fine when he wakes up tomorrow.
“I never had that big grab like I did in Tampa,” he said. “I’ve got to believe that’s a good sign.”
Though J.D. Drew went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, he was pleased with how he emerged from the game. In his first nine-inning game since August 16, Drew emerged without any sign of the back discomfort that sidelined him for the better part of six weeks.
“I felt good,” Drew said. “I wasn’t concerned with my back at all today. I was telling (assistant trainer) Mike Reinold that today was one of the first days in a long time I woke up and didn’t have any issues with it. It was good. It’s good timing. Playing on this surface here also helps. It helped me make it easily through the whole game.”
- John Lackey is now winless in his last five post-season starts. His last win game in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.
- Jon Lester hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 15.2 playoff innings. He is now 3-0 with an 1.10 ERA (16.1 IP, 2 ER) in his post-season career.
- The Angels have dropped their last overall playoff games and last 10 post-season games against Boston. The Angels have been limited to 15 runs in their last nine playoff games (1.7 rusn per game).
- The Red Sox have won Game 1 in each of their last four playoff series. They are riding an eight-game win streak in the playoffs to match a club record. The Sox have out-scored the Angels, 23-5, in their last four playoff meetings.
- Red Sox manager Terry Francona is now 23-9 in his playoff career, giving him a .719 winning percentage, best all-time for a manager with 20 or more playoff games managed.
- Jonathan Papelbon worked a scoreless ninth inning for his fifth career playoff save (five chances). He has not allowed a run in his last 15.2 innings in post-season play.
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