October 26, 2007
Like my man Hannibal Smith always said: "I love it when a plan comes together."
The plan, more or less:
1) Get solid, workmanlike performance out of starter.
2) Turn game over to capable middle relief crew, particularly the baffling Hideki Okajima (right).
3) Let the zany yet intense Jonathan Papelbon put a bow on things, usually with some form of roaring fist-pump.
Last night, that well-worn strategy came up roses again -- not that it should be any real surprise.
Okajima did finish this season with a 2.22 ERA, after all, and has now pitched 9 2/3 innings in the postseason without giving up a run. And Papelbon again showed why he's among the most dominant closers in baseball today (seriously, other than J.J. Putz, who else is there?), zipping 98-mph fastballs past Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe in the ninth inning on his way to a raucous four-out save.
To newcomers who haven't been watching the Red Sox all season, the game's low score might have come as a surprise after Boston's recent offensive outbursts.
Fact of the matter is, though, that the Red Sox played way more games like this in the regular season than they would have preferred. What got the Red Sox through it was the dominance of Papelbon, Okajima and a few select other relievers (none were named Eric Gagne), who anchored a pitching staff that finished with the second best ERA in the Major Leagues.
The bottom line, Rockies fans? Getting back in the series isn't going to be easy, even in the land of Coors.
Consider the Sox like a Ginsu knife, OK? They slice and dice in 10 different ways, and since there was only seven games in the series the last time I checked, I'm pretty sure y'all are in trouble.