If you’re counting, that’s now seven straight postseason victories the Red Sox have over the trifecta locale Angels, dating all the way back to Dave Henderson’s home run in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS. The Angels have not beaten the Red Sox in October in the span of birth to legal drinking age.
“There’s no way the Angels can beat the Red Sox,” a scout told the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan yesterday before Josh Beckett’s big-game performance, a complete game, four-hit shutout.
Whatever would give him that idea?
The warm air enveloping Fenway certainly made it feel like a July evening, but the decorative bunting, energy, and lack of a spark from the Angels suggested October all right. This is what Los Angeles starter John Lackey wanted, the big stage, and a chance to rebound from his last performance in Boston, an ugly loss to the Red Sox in the first game of a day-night doubleheader in August.
Writes the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke:
Six weeks ago, assigned to pitch the first game of a doubleheader here against the Boston Red Sox, John Lackey whined.
He wanted the marquee second game. He wanted the Friday night lights. He wanted Josh Beckett.
“I live for moments like that,” he complained at the time.
On Wednesday, finally given that moment, it buried him.
He wanted the lights? They blinded him.
He wanted the marquee? It crushed him.
It crushed the Angels, too.
We’ve seen plenty of comebacks from a Game 1 loss in the ALDS of course, but with the Angels beset by injuries, conjunctivitis, and now faced with having to win three of the next four games in order to advance to the ALCS, it’s all sort of a tall challenge, no?
And even if they can force a Game 4, Beckett looms again.
Let’s not lose historical perspective on what Beckett did last night. It was indeed one of the most dominating performances in the annals of Red Sox postseason, but it was the first of many games tentatively scheduled on the immediate horizon. It wasn’t quite Pedro Martinez’s Game 5 relief effort at Cleveland or bloody sock material. It was Game 1. It was nasty. But it was more on par with Pedro’s Game 1 win at Cleveland in 1998, dominating, yet potentially forgettable if the rest of the cards don’t fall in the coming days.
But if that’s a preview of the next few weeks, pity everybody else.
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci writes:
To understand the difficulty of what Red Sox ace Josh Beckett did Wednesday night at Fenway Park, first you have to know that his was the 124th shutout in the 104 years of postseason play. Not bad. Beckett has three of those 124 shutouts himself; only the great Christy Mathewson, with four, ever threw more. Even better.
But what you really need to know is how many times in those 124 postseason shutouts that the pitcher allowed no walks and no extra-base hits while striking out as many as eight batters.
I’ll give you the entire list here:
1. Josh Beckett, Boston, 4-0, Game 1, ALDS over Los Angeles.
If Beckett hadn’t already, last night he might have stricken the names “Hanley” and “Ramirez” straight clean out of the Boston fan vernacular.
Beckett is now 4-0 in six career postseason starts. He’s 27. Roger Clemens, the former Boston idol and fellow Texan to whom Beckett is sometimes compared, won his fourth postseason game in the 2000 ALCS with the Yankees. He was 38. It was Clemens’ sixth career trip to the playoffs. This is Beckett’s second.
As if the Angels didn’t have their hands full already in this series, even if they can somehow win the next two games, they still have to face that again, which makes it realistic to propose that if Daisuke Matsuzaka or Curt Schilling can win one of the next two, it’s all over.
It’s safe to predict that not every Game 1 winner Wednesday — Colorado, Boston, and Arizona — has a clear path to the next round, but in a five-game series it certainly makes things easier. Mix in the fact that the Angels are banged up, have been knocked off their game a bit, and have to play another day here in Boston, and it magnifies that challenge even more.
Make that 14-23 for the Angels at Fenway Park since 2000. It is their house of horrors, their den of destruction, their cavern of shame in the hall of dismay.
And the postseason losing streak to Boston is at seven. And, most likely, counting.