American League Championship Series, Game 3
It's a beautiful, cool autumn afternoon in New England, and it feels like playoff baseball here in Boston. There's an underlying buzz around town, and fans have already begun to mill about the shops on Yawkey Way. There's a massive sign hung above a gate at the corner of Van Ness and Yawkey reading "Fenway Park, America's Most Beloved Ballpark." Only about 90 more years and the Trop will get to hang that sign.
(Pictured above: Carl Crawford, right, crashes into Boston catcher Jason Varitek in the eighth inning. Crawford was out on the play. Times photo -- Brian Cassella.)
The Rays are coming, the Rays are coming!
One if by land, two if by blowout: 9-1 Rays, and a 2-1 games lead in the best-of-seven ALCS.
The Woonsocket Rocket just became the fourth Rhode Islander to hit a postseason run, and it was probably the kill shot on the Red Sox.
They're not yelling "Youk!" anymore
Rays 5, Red Sox 0 through 4 1/2, and the hometown nine is getting booed. In the words of Matt Damon (Red Sox fan) in Good Will Hunting, "How do ya like them apples?"
B.J. Upton would have hit the J ring at the Trop with that one. Right, there is none. Beer just starting going down in big, nervous gulps in the stands here.
(Pictured: B.J. Upton. Times photo -- Brian Cassella.)
Longoria retorts. 5-0 at Fenway Park. Top of the order coming up for the Red Sox, including a struggling Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz. Paul Byrd already up in the Sox pen. Garza sat awhile that inning. A lockdown in the bottom of the third would go far for the Rays.
If you're one to handicap the matchups ...
... you probably figure Lester had the edge on Garza tonight and Sonnanstine on Wakefield tomorrow. If the Rays win this one, the series really changes complexion. Thoughts?
The third strike to Varitek was a great pitch. Even if he gets his hands moving, there's no way he does much with that. Admit it, you figured it 1-1 at best at the end of the second.
And we're off ...
Big effort from Matt Garza after the Pedroia double off the wall. Not only did he get a call on a strike three to Ortiz, he retired Kevin Youkilis, which is virtually impossible in the LCS (See below).
Oh, and there's a baseball game today: Game 3 of the ALCS. The homestanding Red Sox can seize a 2-1 lead in the series with two more games upcoming this week at Fenway. The Rays can deliver a pop to the collective nose of an anxious/demanding/spoiled fanbase by nabbing a win in one of baseball's most partisan environments.
Here's a little something to get you ready. Don't hate this song because Red Sox fans love it so. Embrace it, too, co-opt it, make it less their own. Besides, you loved The Departed, especially when Leo got it.
This! Is! Boston!
You might notice that Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis is bearing a resemblance to Leonidas, king of the Spartans, these days with that beard and all, and his ungod(s)ly numbers in league championship series -- an all-time best .526 BA -- suggest he would clobber Persian pitching no matter who Xerxes threw out there if it meant a trip to the World Series. Oakland GM Billy Beane did refer to him as "Euclis: The Greek God of Walks" in his book, Moneyball. Just sayin'. Decide for yourself.
Here's what batting practice sounded like today.
--- Brant James, Times Staff Writer