The Sox win over Tampa Bay tonight was a big one. A REALLY big one. Below are three reasons we needed this win more than any other win this season:
They clinched a playoff spot. Yes, nobody in Red Sox Nation will be happy with anything short of the AL East title but at a minimum, we're in the playoffs. The magic number to clinch the east is now 6.
The Sox stay 2 1/2 ahead of the Yanks who pulled one out of their ass in a slugfest against the pesky Blue Jays. I was praying for another 14 inning heartbreaker for the Yanks but what can you do. At least it happened last night.
The Sox still have the best record in baseball. Maintaining this status will make the Sox job of getting back to the fall classic immeasurably easier.
Two other reasons why this game was much needed:
This was a come from behind win. These types of wins have been few and far between this season. It's really too bad that Javier Lopez had to blow this game for Dice K who pitched a great game tonight (two good starts in a row now.)
Gagne and Papelbon looked "Gagne" and "Papelbon-esque". Even better, Jacoby Ellsbury continues his otherworldly hitting. Varitek finally has a big game (including a game tying HR in the 9th) and even JD Drew chipped in with his bat.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring but history says that Wake pitches well in TB. His last outing was okay so maybe tomorrow he can turn things around. At least for tonight, we can feel a little bit good about our home time boys.
Although the Sox don't WANT to lose the American League East to the Yanquis, it may not matter. There's a recent track record of teams (check out who wont the World Series last year) of teams that don't do well in September yet succeed in October. See what Tom Caron of NESN has to say about this matter...
4 thoughts that I could not get out of my head during the Gagne filth of last night:
1. He sucks, I hate him. Why was I excited for 3 days fro when I heard the sox were signing him until he actually pitched this summer? Tito, sit his ass on the bench and don't bring him into any games unless we have a double digit lead.
2. I have the worst fantasy football team on Earth. And it drives me insane. And I made it even worse by listening to people say that Alex Smith will have a big year. No, he won't. And I put Jake Delhomme on waivers to pick Smith up. I am dumb. My team was bad enough as it is.
3. When Manny is ready to come back (now please). JD Drew should be on the bench too. Ramirez, Crisp, and Ellsbury should be our outfield. Every game. I don't care. They are good. Drew sucks.
4. Ouch. Unless I am going to play professional football or hockey I should not be deadlifting in the gym. I can't get out of this chair on my own. Everything hurts in my body (and my mind now that the sox are going to be fighting for the wild card - and I can't even look forward to my fantasy football team).
Am I the only one that's more than a little annoyed with the bull shit that's coming out of New Jersey these days? Let's get one thing clear -- I'm not a Patriot's apologist. Belichick and the Pats cheated, they got caught, they got punished, story over. But that's not good enough for Eric Mangina. He wants more trouble to come the Patriots way.
Let me throw a few simple facts on the table. The Jets got crushed by the Pats in week one. Jarvis Green alone sacked Chad Pennington three times, eventually knocking Pennington out of the game. The Jets got crushed last week by Balitmore. The score said 20-13 but it wasn't that close. It was 20-3 up until the fourth quarter.
So maybe the Pats had an advantage in week one against the Jets because they cheated (although I doubt it). In week two after getting severely punished by the NFL ($750k in penalties and likely the loss of a first round pick), there is no chance the Pats are still cheating in week two. What do they do? They come out and absolutely demolish San Diego, the team that many experts picked as third best in the league, 38-14 (and it wasn't that close.)
Honestly, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at the Pats and realize that they are so loaded with talent and heart, they are head and shoulders better than anyone in the league with the exception of maybe the Colts. It was stupid of them to even think about cheating given that fact but they did. But they got caught and paid the price.
Here's where the real rub is. Didn't Eric Mangini used to work for Belichick? That's right, as his defensive coordinator if I'm not mistaken. So how did he know about the Pats illegally taping his signals on defense. Did he divine it? Or is there a chance that he may have participated in a little taping himself when he was with the Pats?
What I can guarantee you is that Mangini is finished in this league. His team is going 7-9 this season. They'll go 5-11 next season and he'll get fired. After that, he'll be lucky if he gets a job as a Pop Warner coach. There's an unwritten rule in football (and any pro sport for that matter) that you don't tattle on other coaches, especially when there's no heat on you to do so. Mangini broke ranks and not only snitched on his former boss once but now is pushing the issue and claiming that the Pats were also illegally communicating with their defensive players by sending in signals into electronic ear pieces in week one.
Enough is enough. To make it worse, you get jerks like Chris Collinsworth (this guy really played football?) saying that the Pats should forfeit their next game against the Jets and a playoff game if they make the playoffs. Really Chris? Really? Maybe we should tar and feather Belichick and then hang him in Copley Square. He cheated, it was stupid, he and the Patriots were punished, let's move on.
Would you want to be the Buffalo Bills next week? Didn't think so.
Wow. We needed that one. How long has it been since Papi came to the plate in the 9th with the tying run on first base this season and actually driven in the winning run? Yes, we were spoiled last season. And yes, Papi has hit some clutch hits this season. But it seems like he had so many of those games last year.
It would have been a real shame to piss this one away considering the fact that the D-Rays scored all their runs in the 1st inning. They also needed this one to give them a little cushion going into the series with NY this weekend.
The player of the game? Yes, Papi was the king but Julian Tavarez was a close second. Go Sox!
Wow, what a range of emotions last night's game brought. When I looked at the score on my iPhone, it was already 5-1, TB, and Wakefield was getting pulled from the game. Next thing I knew, it was 9-6, TB, and at this point, I decided to flip the game on. It didn't take much longer for the Tampa Bay bullpen to complete its implosion.
What amazes me is how a crappy Tampa Bay team can hold one of the most potent offenses in the league to no runs the night before in a 1-0 loss, only to give up 20 hits and 16 runs the following night. The silver lining is the fact that Schilling looked sharp in spite of taking the loss. The Sox bullpen also held their ground.
Two other pieces of good news. Ellsbury hit his 3rd HR of the season and extended his hitting streak to 11 games last night. The magic number is also 12 (a number which could be cut in half with a sweep this weekend).
I can't say as though I feel completely confident about the Sox playoff run given their hitting and pitching inconsistencies but we're in a hell of a lot better situation this year then we were last year at this point of the season. This weekend will tell us a lot about what the Sox are made of. Bring on the Bombers!