|Sixth inning: Jason, meet Igor. On second thought, don’t.||10.03.08 at 9:08 pm ET|
As we mentioned earlier, Jason Bay is 1 of 14 players to hit a homer in each of his first two postseason games. Only one player has ever gone deep in more than two straight playoff games to start an October career. That would be the mystery man known as Igor, former two-time Rangers MVP Juan Gonzalez, who went deep in all four playoff games against the Yankees in 1996. Just a guess: Bay is more popular in Boston than Gonzalez was in Texas. For that matter, Bay is probably more popular in Texas than was Gonzalez. Bay flied out to right to start the sixth.
Angels starter Ervin Santana was then victimized when Mark Kotsay‘s soft liner was muffed by Torii Hunter. Hunter and Kotsay have had a similar postseason encounter before: in Game 1 of the 2006 ALDS, Hunter dove for and missed a sinking Kotsay liner. Kotsay parlayed the gaffe into an inside the park homer.
This time, Kotsay only reached first but advanced to second when Jason Varitek had a Willie Mays Hayes-style single to left. That signaled the end of Santana’s day. He was replaced by Angels reliever Jose “The Vulture” Arredondo (a nickname conferred exclusively at weei.com), who racked up 10 wins in just 61 innings this year, the lowest innings total by a pitcher with double-digit Ws. For the Unofficial Jose Arredondo story, here’s some Youtube magic:
The Sox could be forgiven for relative indifference to the video, since Arredondo, after walking Alex Cora (he of the .371 regular season OBP, second best among A.L. shortstops with at least 150 plate appearances) to juice the bases, struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and got Dustin Pedroia to hit a hard grounder to second to end the threat. The bases-loaded squander represented a reversal of fortune for the Sox, who had reached base in eight of their previous 10 bases-loaded plate appearances in the postseason and amassing 13 RBIs in those situations.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, unsurprisingly, was done after five innings. He failed to pitch six innings in 14 of his 29 starts this year. He led the majors with seven wins in which he failed to pitch six frames, including five in which he lasted exactly five innings.
Matsuzaka was replaced by Hideki Okajima. Okajima, of course, assumed a huge bullpen role last postseason, often covering the final three innings (or more) with closer Jonathan Papelbon. He entered in the sixth inning three times, recording no fewer than five outs in those appearances. It will be interesting to monitor whether he remains a multi-inning pitcher in Boston’s postseason bullpen this year, given the strong year by Manny Delcarmen and the emergence of Justin Masterson.
Okajima retired both Erick Aybar and Chone (is there a Chone-o-meter in the house? if so, it reads .174) Figgins to start the inning. Garrett Anderson then sent a flyball to deep right that J.D. Drew (yup, J.D. Drew) hauled in while crashing against the right-field wall, no doubt to the delight of Scott Boras, who is enjoying a sweet suite view from his station behind home plate.
Red Sox 5, Angels 3
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