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Closing time

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  October 5, 2008 11:16 AM

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If you’re looking for one more example that everything about the Boston Red Sox has changed since 2004, there’s this: The Red Sox, gaggers for decades, have become cold-blooded postseason finishers. They have played six games in which a victory would give them a playoff series win since 2004. They have won them all.

The Red Sox, of course, can extended that streak to seven tonight at Fenway Park by sweeping the Los Angeles Angels, who at the moment look more overmatched than Sarah Palin in a ninth-grade civics course. (The Angels are the only team since 1931 to win 100 games without a 30-home run hitter, a 100-RBI producer, or a 20-game winner. Is it possible all of those piled up largely owing to a heinous AL West?)

The Red Sox have now won nine consecutive postseason games going back to last year, starting when they were down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. No. 10 would again validate the Red Sox’ ability to put away teams when they earn the chance. In the last six games the Red Sox have entered with a chance to close out a series, they have outscored opponents 45-15.

Here now is a brief rundown of those games:

Date: Oct. 8, 2004
Result: Red Sox 8, Angels 6, ALDS Game 3
Over when: David Ortiz hit a two-out, two-run walk-off home run off Jarrod Washburn in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Significance: In the other clubhouse, Darin Erstad says, “Those boys are winning the World Series, by the way.”

Date: Oct. 20, 2004
Result: Red Sox 10, Yankees 3, ALCS Game 7
Over when: Johnny Damon pulverized an upper-deck grand slam in the second inning, giving the Red Sox a 6-0 lead.
Significance: The Red Sox became the first team to ever overcome a 3-0 series deficit and made their first World Series since 1986.

Date: Oct. 27, 2004
Result: Red Sox 3, Cardinals, 0, World Series Game 4
Over when: One of Trot Nixon’s three doubles scores David Ortiz and Jason Varitek in the third inning and gives the Sox their final run.
Significance: Establishes Derek Lowe as one of the great money pitches of this era. Other than that, not much, really. (Kidding!)

Date: Oct. 7, 2007
Result: Red Sox 9, Angels 1, ALDS Game 3
Over when: The teams took the field. The hobbling Angels offered some resistance until the Red Sox scored seven runs in the eighth.
Significance: The Red Sox show how much they’ve evolved since their rapid 2005 ouster and their no-playoffs 2006 season.

Date: Oct. 21, 2007
Result: Red Sox 11, Indians 2
Over when: Dustin Pedroia rocked a two-run home run in the seventh to turn a 3-2 game into a 5-2 game. The six runs the Sox added in the eighth helped, too.
Significance: Boston overcame a 3-1 series hole to advance back to the World Series.

Date: Oct. 28, 2007
Result: Red Sox 4, Rockies 3
Over when: Bobby Kielty hit a solo home run in the top of the eighth. Even when the Rockies scored two in the bottom half, Jonathan Papelbon was there to win the game.
Significance: The Red Sox win their second World Series in four years, establishing themselves as perhaps baseball premier organization.

A note from Adam, update at 1:15 Monday.
Well, that attempt at humor did not go as planned. Thanks to everyone who read and posted a comment. Believe me, I learned my lesson about including politicians and/or politics on the Extra Bases blog. There is a difference between a political comment and a comment about a politician, and I believe what I wrote fell into the latter category. But that is a fine line, and not one that should be tested in this forum. So, again, thank you for reminding me of that. I regret that the focus of readers was needlessly diverted from baseball.

It was not supposed to be any kind of political statement, only a play on a widely perceived notion of a very public figure. Clearly, many people widely perceive her to be intelligent, competent, and richly deserving of the vice presidency. I make no judgment in this space about either perception.

Glad that's out of the way. Let's get back to baseball. And only baseball. For good. Thanks again.

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