Monday, October 06, 2003

American League Divisional Series - Games 3 & 4

Red Sox 3, Oakland A's 1 (11)
Red Sox 5, Oakland A's 4

Told ya so.

The Sox won two of the most wrenching, bizarre, seat-of-the-pants, edge-of-the-seat spellbinders I've ever seen to force Game 5 of the ALDS. And now Pedro goes on full rest against Barry Zito, who is pitching for the first time in his career on three days' rest. Oh, and did I mention that Tim Hudson told reporters, "I'd rather have Barry Zito than Pedro Martinez any day."? Hudson, probably embarrassed about having to leave yesterday's game after 1 inning, just yanked hard on Superman's cape.

I'm getting exhausted recounting this team's resiliency and refusal to go quietly. They were on the ropes late again yesterday, trailing 4-2 after the top of the 6th. They were down, 4-3, heading to the bottom of the 9th with Oakland closer Keith Foulke taking the hill. And I knew - knew - that they were going to win. Nomar doubled with one out, but Walker popped up to put the Sox on the brink.

I was sitting forward on my couch, gripping and regripping my daughter's soccer ball (with pretty ladybug designs), rocking back and forth like a mental patient (or Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone). Manny woke from his series-long slumber and ripped a groundball to left, but he hit it so hard that Nomar had to stop at third.

David Ortiz, who - as much as anyone - symbolizes the Sox magic this season, stepped up with two on and two out. Ortiz had been mired in an 0-for-16 slump in the series, when even mediocrity would have meant at least 1 more Sox victory. The big Dominican worked the count to 3-and-2, and...smoked a laser to right. I leapt off the couch with both arms raised, thinking it was into the seats. The Sox crowd let out a feral roar as Oakland's Jermaine Dye raced back to the wall. The ball arced over Dye's glove, short-hopping the rightfield wall. Dye's throw to the infield sailed over the cutoff man's head as Manny slid gleefully across the plate with the go-ahead run.

Red Sox Nation was delirious. Though my daughter was napping, I could not control my emotions, screaming "Yes, Yes, Yes" at the top of my lungs. (Coupled with several "Fucks" from earlier in the game, and aided by open windows on a beautiful fall day, my outbursts surely have my neighbors questioning my sanity, or what goes on in my house.) My daughter woke up crying, and I had to sprint upstairs to comfort her, saying, "Daddy's yelling because he's happy, not upset. The Red Sox do that to Daddy sometimes." I think she understood.

Scott Williamson absolutely slammed the door on the A's in the top of the 9th. (Side note: So that's what it feels like to have a closer. Interesting.) Game over, and Game On!

Game 5 tonight. Lotta ball left. Stay on target.

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