This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the freakiest and streakiest happenings from around the Major League Baseball posteason championship tournament. Today's Roll Call starts at the Big Artie, where Jon Lester assumed the position as head of household for the Boston Red Sox to give the Los Angeles (etc.) Angels yet another bitter taste of playoff beans.
Game of the Day: Red Sox 4, Angels 1
Three-parent home: Joining Big Papi and Boston's new Manny, Jason Bay, just call left-hander Jon Lester one tough Mother after shutting down the Angels in Game 1 of the ALDS. Josh Beckett has been ailing (Stan's Rodeo Cream apparently cannot do for the ailing oblique as it does for rubbing out blisters), so Lester continued a couple of streaks. His own, of pitching like Boston's true ace, and the crazy-long one the Olde Towne Teame has over the Angels — which goes all the way back to the 1986 ALCS.
Lester the Sequester: Already having been on the mound for a World Series clincher and a no-hitter, Lester — or, "Mom" — struck out seven, walked one, and allowed six hits over seven innings to get the Sawx off and running for perhaps another title. "A lot was being made of Josh not pitching in that game," Bay said. "I'm glad everyone got to see that Jon Lester has been doing it all year."
Baylout: With former icon Ramirez halfway across the country playing for someone else in crunch time, Bay again stepped in to slug the Red Sox to a 1-0 lead in the series. Bay's two-out, two-run homer off Angels ace John Lackey gave Boston its first lead. Manny hit .381 with three homers and 11 RBIs in six career playoff games against the Halos, but Canadian ManRam ("J-Bay"?) proved just as tasty as the real thing last night.
Bitter Angels: Jacoby Ellsbury made a diving catch, and he and Papi each added an RBI single from there, and Papelbuns struck out the side in the ninth, handing Orange County its 10th straight loss against the Red Sox in the playoffs, including sweeps in '07 and '04). These Angels won 100 games and had little trouble against Boston in the regular season which, Lackey will tell you, this ain't: "You can't say it's one game and move on, because these things can end real quick. We have to play with a sense of urgency and get it going."
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Feelin' Rundown (how the rest was won):
NLDS I: Dodgers 7, Cubs 2
Wild sting: A funny thing happened on the way to the Cubs ring ceremony. Still 11 victories from their first World Series championship in 100 seasons, the Cubs also are two defeats from elimination after the Dodgers stunned them at Wrigley Field in Game 1. Seventeen-game winner and All-Star pick Ryan Dempster walked seven, though it seemed like 700. It's up to the mercurial Carlos Zambrano to even things up. Cubs better hope he checks in at 98.6. Here's Dempster's take: "Most teams are going to lose a game in a series. Guys will come out ready, and we're at a really big luxury because we have our ace going in Game 2." Now, there's a guy with a lot of self-confidence.
Working Blue: The Dodgers appeared loose and acted like tourists, blithely gathering glimpses inside the baseball cathedral where so many great playoff moments have happened — just not many that favored the home team. "I've been in the American League for 12 years, to come into Wrigley Field for a playoff game, this is pretty cool," Joe Torre says. Yeah, it's the bee's knees in there, Mr. World Series.
Roger, Dodgers: James "Bull" Loney had the key hit, a go-ahead grand salami to key the Dodgers second playoff win since 1988. Manny be Manny, too, with a solo shot against left-hander Sean Marshall (there's a match-up for Piniella to avoid). Derek Lowe be Derek, too, with six solid (not gaseous) innings. Greg Maddux closed, which was weird!
Goat droppings: The Chicago Tribune reported that the Cubs, who have complained ad nauseam about the nauseating attention paid to curses and goats and such, brought out a Greek Orthodox Priest from Northwest Indiana to spread holy water around Wrigley's dugout to try and, you know, remove a curse or something. Father should have aimed for the pitcher's mound and batter's boxes. The bullpen. In the Gatorade jug. Would the Rays drink Greek holy water out of their jocks if they won the World Series in Chicago?
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NLDS II: Phillies 3, Brewers 1
Ace in the Cole: Phillies lefty Cole Hamels pitched brilliantly for eight innings, dousing the Brewers on two hits and nine strikeouts. Hamels said the jitters got the best of him against the Rockies in '07, but not this time. "I learned what it really takes in trying to kind of mellow out, not have that sort of excitement where you can't really control everything," Hamels said.
Gulp: The Phillies wouldn't let their fans off the hook without some angina. Brad Lidge made it 42-of-42 in save opportunities by first igniting a fire in the ninth under the Crew, which put the tying run in scoring position but stranded him here. Phew! The Phils have a playoff victory for the first time since 1993, when Lenny Dykstra knew not a darn thing about wheat futures. "Not too many times you can say you're happy to see Lidge, but we didn't hit the ball hard off Hamels all day," Brewers manager Dale Sveum said.
Talk to me: When CC Sabathia takes the ball today, we might see the first 200-pitch game since they started counting, because the Brewers need a victory, no matter how, to stay afloat.
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Today: White Sox (Javier Vazquez) at Rays (James Shields) at 2:37 p.m. EST; Brewers (CC Sabathia) at Phillies (Brett Myers) at 6:07 p.m. EST; Dodgers (Chad Billingsley) at Cubs (Carlos Zambrano) at 9:37 p.m. EST.
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Hamels (Phils) 8 IP, 2 H, BB, 9K, Win
Loney (Dodgers) 1-5, HR, 4 RBI
Bay (Red Sox) 2-4, HR, 2 RBI
Lester (Red Sox) 7 IP, 6 H, BB, 7K, Win
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Ryan Dempster (Cubs) 4 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 7 BB, 2 K, Loss
Alfonso Soriano (Cubs) 0-5, 2 K
Chone Figgins (Angels) 0-5, 3 K
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Words of Mouth:
"The atmosphere here was real quiet as I was going around the bases." — James Loney, on the sound of silence his grand slam.