Congratulations to the victors
Some brief thoughts regarding both of the LDS' Game 3s played on Sunday:
-- I actually feel bad for Jonathan Papelbon after that meltdown. To be one strike away from victory three times, facing some of the Angels' least fearsome hitters and still losing has to feel awful. I wonder who felt worse: Tim Wakefield in 2003, or Papelbon on Sunday.
-- On the same note, MLB Network's Mitch Williams very presciently noted that perhaps Papelbon's undoing was partly due to poor pitch selection. The Red Sox closer stayed almost exclusively with outside fastballs, nearly eschewing his breaking ball entirely. One has to wonder if a splitter to Erick Aybar -- who made the last out against the Red Sox last year -- would have finished him off.
-- The play Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez combined on yesterday was the smartest defense I've seen since "The Flip" in 2001. To have the presence of mind in that spot to notice how far Nick Punto was off third is otherworldly. It's plays like that make for championship-caliber teams. (Except in 2001, when they didn't win.)
-- Speaking of A-Rod, it seems he's either turned a postseason corner, or just really likes facing the Twins in the ALDS. To wit, Rodriguez against the Twins in the 2004 ALDS was .421/.476/1.213 with a home run and three doubles, including a game-tying ground-rule double in the bottom of the 12th off of Joe Nathan. It would have been a game-winning hit, but Jeter had to stop at third when the ball bounced over the wall.
-- Of course, despite the overall team struggles against the Angels of late, Rodriguez has feasted on Los Angeles pitching. He is .328/.405/1.098 with 67 home runs against them in his career. The longball total is his highest against any opponent.