Jason Bay’s first career post-season homerun propels Sox to the 4-1 victory over Angels


Jason Bay’s first career post-season homerun propels Sox to the 4-1 victory over Angels

(October 2, 2008) – Manny Ramirez was traded exactly two months ago, yesterday, but was still the talk of the town leading up to Game 1 against the Los Angeles Angels. The former Sox left fielder was not literally the lead discussion it was his production at the dish that left few scratching their heads. How were the Sox going to replace Ramirez’s offensive production?

The longer Angels starter, John Lackey, kept the Sox off the scoreboard the louder questions started to buzz in fans heads. A game earlier Sox fans had to watch Ramirez deposit a Sean Marshall offering into the Wrigley Field bleachers in the seventh to finish the game 2-for4. It felt as if you sitting outside on a mid-summer night surrounded by bugs, eating you alive. But the man who was traded for Ramirez, Jason Bay, pulled out the bug spray and quelled those nasty, incessant thoughts with a two-run homerun in the top of the sixth.

“[They are] not asking me to do more than I can do,” Bay told TBS’s field reporter and future “Price is Right” host Craig Sager in a post game interview. “[It is] just easier.”

Striking out in his first two post-season at-bats (second and fourth innings) meant that Bay’s first career post-season hit would mean so much more. And it did. Not only did it win the game for the Sox, it took rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie off the hook for the loss.

In the third inning with two outs and Vladimir Guerrero at the dish, the Angels right fielder grounded the ball to Lowrie for what looked like the final out of the inning made a rookie mistake. Lowrie was trying to throw the ball to first before he even had control of the ball. Mistakes happen. It happens to the best but this is the playoffs. You are playing against the best in baseball and they will take advantage of your miscues.

Angels centerfielder Torii Hunter did just that. Hunter lined a two-out base hit into left to bring around left fielder Garret Anderson from second, who singled in between strike outs of third baseman Chone Figgins and first baseman Mark Teixeira. But as the dust settled Sox left hander Jon Lester did his job and was able to minimize the damage by getting Howie Kendrick to ground out to Mike Lowell at third to end the inning.

Speaking of Jon Lester, there is not much to say about him but just he has transformed himself into one of the premier power left handed pitchers in baseball. All season the young 24-year-old left hander has been the Ace of the Sox staff, so replacing last year’s Ace, Josh Beckett, was not hard a daunting task since he had been doing it all year.

After allowing back-to-back, one-out base hits to Anderson and Teixeira in the first inning and walked Hunter to load the bases with two-outs, Lester scratched and clawed his way out of the jam getting Kendrick to ground out to Lowell. As the game continued well into the night (or morning in Boston), when most fans were growing tired, Lester was growing stronger.

“I [do not] know about stronger,” Lester told Sager after the game. “A bit more relaxed and not trying to do so much.”

Lester pitched seven strong innings giving up one unearned run as well as scattering six hits, walking one and striking out seven. Before he turned the game over to the 23-year-old Justin Masterson, he retired the last seven batters he faced after giving up back-to-back hits to Teixeira and Guerrero in the sixth.

Just like one of Jacoby Ellsbury’s 50 stolen bases this season, the Sox have snatched home field advantage away from the Angels with their three-run victory. Now they have the opportunity to clinch the ALDS in either game three or four at Fenway Park.

“Any time you come into another team’s ballpark, [it is] huge,” Lester said when asked how big it was to win on the road in the playoffs.

The Sox return to action on Friday when they send the 18-3 Daisuke Matsuzaka to the hill to face 16-7 right hander Ervin Santana in Game 2. The Angels will be looking to tie the series at one game a piece before sending the series to Boston on Sunday.

RED SOX 4 - Angels 1

WIN: Jon Lester (1-0)

LOSS: John Lackey (0-1)

SAVE: Jonathan Papelbon (1)


Game Notes:

Getting the Game 1 start in center field, Jacoby Ellsbury was 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Ellsbury drove in Jed Lowrie in the top of the ninth to make the game 3-1 before David Ortiz prolonged his Division Series hitting streak with a base hit to center to score Ellsbury to make it 4-1.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Jason Bay, BOSTON --- 2-4 Double, Game Winning Homerun
  1. Jon Lester, BOSTON --- 7.0 IP, 6H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB, 7K
  1. Torii Hunter, LOS ANGELES --- 2-3 RBI single

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