Do Sox stand a fightin' chance to emerge victorious?

Game 1 ALDS - Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels
The Red Sox are in such dire straits offensively, I'm pining for the offensive slump the team was in that precipitated the Victor Martinez trade. Across two games, Boston's come up with just eight measly hits, only two of them extra-base hits (and not of the four-bagger variety). Putting aside for the moment whether Terry Francona messed up on such decisions as leaving Josh Beckett in too long, where do the Sox go from here?
Game 1 ALDS - Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels

The Red Sox are in such dire straits offensively, I’m pining for the offensive slump the team was in that precipitated the Victor Martinez trade.

Across two games, Boston’s come up with just eight measly hits, only two of them extra-base hits (and not of the four-bagger variety).

The pitching side of things holds more promise. While the team has lost by five and four runs, they’ve been exactly five and four runs — not exactly something to point a finger at against the offense that is the Angels.

Putting aside for the moment whether Terry Francona messed up on such decisions as leaving Josh Beckett in too long, where do the Sox go from here?

The obvious answer: Back to Fenway, their friendly confines. Back to a 56-25 home record. Back to a .862 home OPS (1st in baseball — overall is .806.) Back to a 4.07 team ERA (4.35 overall). Back to their beds, their friends and family, back to the familar.

Is that going to be enough to advance to the ALDS?

At this point, what Boston fans should feel confident about is the very thing that doesn’t matter: the past. The Red Sox have come back from large deficits before. We’ve felt like crap like this many times before — it’s only recently that Sox fans have been able to go from crap to happiness. Can Sox fans bank on another revitalization?

I hate Scott Kazmir at Fenway. He scares the bejesus out of me, and he’s been stupendous since becoming an Angel. He is totally unfazed by Fenway Park and loves shutting Boston down in big situations. It’s going to be a tough, near impossible task for Boston to get past Kazmir into the Angels bullpen — the one weakness that Boston hasn’t been able to exploit — and expect Clay Buchholz to show up to pitch.

There are many concerns surrounding Buchholz, namely: (1) What’s up with his two previous starts? Bump in the road in meaningless games or something more? (2) How’s the pressure going to affect Buchholz? This is a kid with a world of talent who seems to have trouble putting it together when it matters.

The one saving grace that makes me feel sort of okay about this game is that it starts at 12:07 — 9:07 Pacific. Yeah, the Angels are going to have an off-day of rest. It’s still going to throw a bit of a crimp in their plans.

If the Sox bats wake up and somehow get to Game 4, we’re going to be seeing Jon Lester on three days’ rest going against (probably) Joe Saunders. This is a matchup I like. Lester pitched well enough to win Thursday, while Saunders struggles on the road. The odds are in their favor.

Should the Sox somehow, mercifully, extend their season past Monday, they get to fly back to Los Angeles and worry about a John Lackey/Josh Beckett matchup that has to favor L.A. But I’d rather see a Game 5 favoring L.A. than not, to say the least.

Do the Red Sox have a chance?

Of course. Their offense can turn on a dime. This is a team who seems to need a ‘spark’ to get them going in the postseason. They’ve looked flat and listless before, then looked like they can’t be beat. Their offense can turn on a dime, and the pitching is good enough to win. The Sox may have their backs to the wall, but the series isn’t over until… well, it’s over.

We’ve seen too many comebacks and too many last-gasp wins for us to write the team off, no matter how unkind history is to teams with 0-2 or 0-3 deficits.

Categories: 2009 ALDS Clay Buchholz Joe Saunders Los Angeles Angels Scott Kazmir

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

9 Responses to “Do Sox stand a fightin' chance to emerge victorious?” Subscribe

  1. donna October 10, 2009 at 1:51 PM #

    brother, can you spare that dime? who can find it?!?! i think you hit it squarely on the head… this season has been SO frustrating as it is the Dr Jekyll/Mr.Hyde Red Sox – one day they look like they all need a good jolt of lightning/inspiration/excitation/something-to-get-it-started (hey…is there a Viagra resin that dan be applied to the bats?), and the next day they are all guns-a-blazing/fired-up/irrepressible/genius.
    it is not that i am a sore loser but i want to see the REAL Red Sox come out to play…not the sleepwalkers.
    on the other note… perhaps it is time to start a fuss over the officiating. some kind of way to red flag within limits for each manager to throw out there for all the umps to consort and figure out through obvious replay.

    • Gerry October 10, 2009 at 11:09 AM #

      Good point on the red flag. Not too long from now, bloggers & media will be saying things like "Mike Lowell (or A.Gon) is a terrible fielder, and his play helped us lose in the ADL. Not so, but that's what the stats say, and numbers don't lie, right? NFL assumes that refs are human and can get it wrong, and uses technology to get it right. The NBA taught us that refs can not only get it wrong, but can do so intentionally.

      MLB assumes umpires are super-human and above reproach, and thus get it right whether or not they do. We saw with our eyes, with the help of technology, just how blatantly wrong these guys can be. If each manager had a smart observer in a loft with access to live feed, advising the dugout whether or not to challenge a call, some calls would be straightened out in a collegial way without "threatening" the umps. The system already exists in the NFL. Why not use it. MLB clearlyl needs it.

  2. Gerry October 10, 2009 at 11:12 AM #

    Yikes. I need a copy editor. "mike or a.gon . .. helped us lose the ALDS"

  3. james October 10, 2009 at 12:30 PM #

    C.B. Bucknor should be fired and have to take off his Angels cap!!! There is no room for a Tim Donoughy in baseball. MLB should hand out the proper punishment to this [[edited out]]!!!!

    • donna October 10, 2009 at 7:21 PM #

      James, Mike is right… please do not use terms like that here. FireBrand is a place where integrity and intense passion for the game/ Red Sox collide, where trolls fear to tread because they will be banished, and where heated conversation is ultimately joyous because no one here needs to resort to childish, profane, rude, or blatantly intolerable stuff. (the last word of your comment is completely NOT ok).

  4. ericinboston October 10, 2009 at 1:06 PM #

    they def have a shot. they lead mlb in runs at home and OPS. their performance at home, despite kazmir's success, gives them a fighting chance.

  5. Mike October 10, 2009 at 1:33 PM #

    two thoughts, I still think that baseball has the highest quality Umps/refs etc. of any sport, I just dont know where they put them this year. Second, "jiggaboo" is an incredibly offensive term with no place here. everyone should be pissed about the calls made this offseason, but racial slurs dont fit.

    I think we get a good one from Buchholz, and I think that not even Kazmir will be able to keep our bats this dead with fenway and its crowd behind them.

  6. Gerry October 10, 2009 at 6:24 PM #

    Wow, I haven't heard that word for ages, and I have been living in the deep South for several years. That couldn't come from a Bostonian. God, I hope not. It's 2009!!!!!!! The Civil War was nearly 150 years ago, the Military services and public places were integrated 50 years ago, and the Civil Rights Movement was successful 40 years ago. That was generations ago, but regressive genes can be disappointing. Donna, you put that very kindly. I can't.

  7. letsgosox October 11, 2009 at 2:55 AM #

    No matter how hard I try I can't convince myself that the Sox have a chance. Call it pessimistic, whatever — but the issue is this isn't the same old Angels team the Sox used to roll over. The two have basically switched places in a years time. I just don't see the Halos giving the Sox any slack whatsoever. They are relentless this time around. If you've watched games 1 and 2, you know damn well the Sox are lifeless. Not the same come-from-behind team we saw in '04 vs the Yanks and '07 vs the Indians. Just not. Now, let's hope I managed some magical reverse jinx.