|Sixth inning: The pace quickens||10.05.08 at 7:17 pm ET|
Manny Delcarmen is in, and so one of Josh Beckett’s worst October nights is over. Beckett’s five innings represented the shortest start of his playoff career, while his nine hits allowed were a career high.
Before the game, manager Terry Francona tried to clarify why it has been Justin Masterson rather than Delcarmen who has been employed in the ALDS.
Masterson, Francona explained, has been so dominant against right-handers (.196 average against this year, as opposed to .218 by Delcarmen), that it seemed sensible to employ him against an Angels lineup that is stacked with either switch-hitters or right-handers. All the same, Francona said, the team would not be afraid to lean on Delcarmen when needed.
For the record, Delcarmen held righties to .218 with five homers this year, .190 with no homers against lefties. That makes him a particularly good option against the likes of switch-hitter Mark Teixeira. Delcarmen navigated a clean 1-2-3 inning, the first time tonight that a Sox pitcher has gone three-up, three-down.
As we’ve mentioned ad nauseum, the Red Sox find themselves on the brink of reaching the ALCS by virtue of their exceptional performance at the plate with two outs. The team has scored 10 of their 15 runs this series with two outs. Gary from the Hill notes that the team entered tonight on pace to set a record for best batting average of all time by a team with two outs in a playoff series. Through the first five innings tonight, here’s their all-time place:
2008 Red Sox, ALDS: .421 (16-for-38)
2004 Astros, ALDS: .406
1969 Mets, NLCS: .395
The worst, Gary noted, were the 1966 Dodgers, who went 1-for-35 in suffering a World Series sweep at the hands (or wings, one might say) of the mighty Baltimore Orioles.
Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan had the following to say about his lineup’s success in these situations:
“Obviously, it’s an important part of the year,” he said. “They know what’s at stake here. They’re grinding out every at-bat. Sometimes those two-out hits are more just a matter of will than talent. If you can really grind it out and take a good approach, make the pitcher work, get deep into the count and make the pitcher work, you’re going to have some success.”
Jose Arredondo, who should be greeted by “Mr. Roboto” whenever he enters a game (Domo Arigato, Mr. Arredondo!), looked filthy in a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth. He should watch this video and dream big:
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