|Post-game reactions, notes and quotes||10.06.08 at 12:10 am ET|
Click HERE for the recap.
PAPELBON A “QUESTION MARK” FOR GAME 4
Jonathan Papelbon typically is The Answer. His presence at the end of games—especially in October, when he has pitched 19.2 scoreless innings—represents a virtual lock for the Red Sox.
But in Game 4 today, he represents an uncertainty. In Game 3, Papelbon was brilliant in firing shutout innings in both the 10th and 11th innings. To do so, however, he needed to throw 31 pitches, just two shy of the season high that he achieved on Sept. 28.
How does the closer feel about the idea of pitching on Monday?
“Playoffs are a whole different animal when it comes to having to be able to go in and pitch day in and day out. I feel fine. I’ll wake up in the morning and see how I feel.”
Papelbon has only pitched once before on consecutive days in the postseason. In the World Series last year, he logged 1.1 innings in Game 3 (15 pitches) and then tossed 1.2 innings (23 pitches) the following night to close out the Rockies. He made it through those outings, but he was in a state of total exhaustion afterwards.
Papelbon was merely part of a succession of zeroes put up by the Sox pen. Manny Delcarmen threw a scoreless sixth and seventh, Hideki Okajima and Justin Masterson followed with a scoreless inning each and Papelbon threw two scoreless frames of his own. Though Javy Lopez took the loss while allowing a run on three hits in the 12th, he executed the pitches he wanted, and proved chiefly unlucky, as the Angels scored their run on a bloop hit by Erick Aybar.
“I feel like I made a good pitch. I thought the whole inning, I got groundballs like I needed to. A few got through,” said Lopez. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m excited about it. Obviously it’s frustrating. You never want to be that guy, but today I am. That’s the way it is.”
“I don’t think we could have thrown any better. (Expletive) happens. Bloop hit—(Lopez) made the pitch he wanted to,” said Papelbon. “It could have gone either way.”
The Angels bullpen was also severely taxed. Starter Joe Saunders, making his postseason debut, lasted 4.2 innings. It was the shortest start by an Angels starter since Kelvim Escobar logged just 3.1 innings in Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS.
Jose Arredondo (28 pitches, 2 innings), Scot Shields (28 pitches, 2.1 innings) and closer Francisco Rodriguez (33 pitches, 1 inning) all experienced heavy workloads. Los Angeles recorded 7.1 shutout innings of relief.
Mike Napoli became the 32nd player in Division Series history to hit multiple homers in a game, the 19th in ALDS history. He went deep against Beckett in both the third inning, when his two-run blast erased a 3-1 deficit, and again with a solo blast in the top of the fifth.
“That was big,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. “Hopefully about a month from now we’ll talk about that 3-2 breaking ball that Nap hit off one of the toughest pitchers ever in a playoff environment.”
Beckett hung a full-count hook in the first homer, and then failed to get his fastball in when Napoli took him deep for the second time. Napoli’s ability to deposit both pitches above the Wall was no great surprise: he hit 20 homers in 227 at-bats this year, with his 11.4 at-bats per homer easily the best ratio in the majors.
“He’s been like that all year,” said Red Sox skipper Terry Francona. “He’s been so dangerous. So many of his hits have been home runs…Neither pitch was quite where it needed to be.”
Napoli also yanked a single through the left side of the infield to start the 12th against Lopez. He came around to score the winning run.
Mike Lowell appeared almost completely immobile due to his hip labrum tear after last night’s game. In his return to the lineup, he was 0-for-4, and is now 0-for-8 on the series. He walked and was lifted for a pinch-runner in the 10th.
Though Lowell has typically made clear that he would be available, he was far less certain after last night’s game. He had some plays that put obvious stress on his injury, most notably a diving play to his left in the eighth and a check swing in the tenth. His ability to play in Game 4 is an obvious question.
“I don’t know. We’ll see (Monday),” he said. “If my name is in the lineup tomorrow, that means yeah.”
GAME FOUR STARTERS
John Lackey returns to Fenway Park for the first time since he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in late July. He was excellent in a Game 1 loss, allowing two runs in 6.2 innings and making but one notable mistake, a hanging fastball that Jason Bay crushed for a two-run homer.
“Honestly, I’m not planning on making too many adjustments,” said John Lackey. “I felt pretty good last time out there. I’m just out there trying to execute pitches and trying to minimize a mistake or two.”
Lackey will once again be matched up against Jon Lester, who permitted just one run in seven frames in Game 1. Lester is tuning out the fact that the Sox bullpen was heavily taxed in Game 3.
“I can’t worry about us going back to L.A. or the bullpen situation,” he said. “I just have to worry about going out and executing my pitches. That’s all I can worry about. You can’t worry about stuff you can’t control.”
Even so, the Sox would certainly like to close out the series on Monday so that they can minimize their travel and have their pitching optimally aligned in the event that they reach the Championship Series.
“Hopefully we can end it today and not take a trip over to California,” said Lowell. “I don’t think we want that.”
- ESPNBoston: De La Rosa finding his way in Pawtucket
- Cup of Coffee: Bradley, Holt shine in PawSox loss
- Xander Bogaerts, Portland to headline Futures at Fenway
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: Matt Barnes
- Cup of Coffee: Henry, Diaz propel Pawtucket to blowout victory
- Cup of Coffee: Spring's walk-off grand slam lifts Portland
- Bradley: "Everything's back to normal"
- Cup of Coffee: PawSox, Drive produce walk-off wins
- PawSox activate Jackie Bradley, Jr. from disabled list
- Weekly Notes: De La Rosa, Betts take center stage