Dear John, I am Sorry

The 2013 ALCS has been nothing less than an instant classic through the first three games.  The Red Sox will go into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead, something that seemed improbable at best going into the 8th inning of Game 2 at Fenway Park.  In Game  1, the Red Sox were only able to produce 1 hit…1 god damn hit… to quote the great Harry Doyle en route to a 1-0 loss.  In Game 2, Detroit looked to take a commanding 2-0 lead with the Sox facing the unenviable task of facing Justin Verlander down two games to none.  Then Big Papi struck.

David Ortiz.  Big Papi.  Senor Octubre.  Red Sox fans have witnessed Ortiz’s heroics for a decade now.  It came to the point 963805-tigers-red-sox-baseballwhere many fans were almost expecting Ortiz to deposit a first pitch Joaquain Benoit change-up into the Boston bullpen for a grand slam to tie the game. A grand slam that sent Torri Hunter sprawling head over heels into the Boston bullpen.  A grand slam that made a Boston Cop a local hero and coined a term, Horganing. A grand slam that will be talked about for generations. A grand slam that gave the Red Sox life. The Red Sox offense had been anorexic through the first 17 innings of the ALCS.   The Big Dog ate, and completely changed the complexion of the series with one swing of the bat.  Red Sox fans take what Papi does for granted.  But let me be the first to say, the man is clutch.  Time and time again he has come up big, in the times the Sox have needed him most.  I mean a grand slam! In the eighth inning! With 2 outs!  Are you kidding me?  Isn’t that what small children dream of every day?

One inning later Jarrod Saltalamacchia plated Jonny Gomes to walk off with Game 2.  The Red Sox were going to board a plane to Detroit with the series tied at 1.  A series, which arguably, would’ve been 2-0 in Detroit’s favor.  Think about it for a second.  The Red Sox were no hit through the first 5 innings of each game.  Detroit fired their absolute best shot at the Red Sox.  What have we said about the Sox all year?  Man, these guys are resilient!  Every time we were ready to discount the Sox, they came right back with a massive win.  Game 2 was no different.  Why are we surprised?

Going into Game 3, all the talk was about Justin Bie- sorry Verlander.  Verlander has been incredible in October, nearly lackey-big-10340.runtouchable.  No one was talking about John Lackey.  No one has been more critical of The Underbite then yours truly over the lifetime of the Lackey contract.  What Lackey did in Game 3 against a potent Tiger lineup will rank right up there in Red Sox lore with the names Pedro and Schilling.  Lackey matched zeroes with Verlander, through 6 innings.  I can’t think of another Boston athlete in my lifetime that has drawn as much ire from the Fenway Faithful, then made amends, and now has drawn the same amount of praise from Sox fans.  From chicken and beer, to Tommy John, to pitching like an ace in the biggest game of the season, John Lackey has earned this year’s salary and then some.

Mike Napoli came to the plate in the top of the 7th inning boasting a feeble .111 batting average in the playoffs.  Napoli changed Game 3 with one swing, mashing a Verlander offering to give the Sox a 1-0 lead.  Coincidently, Napoli’s first major league at bat came against Justin Verlander.  Napoli turned the clock back to 2006, and hit a home run to the same exact spot at Comerica Field in 2013.  This proved to be enough.

I wasn’t overly excited about the quick hook John Farrell gave Lackey after 6.2 innings and 97 pitches.  During the regular imagesseason the Red Sox bullpen was much maligned.  In October? They have been lights out.  Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa preserved the 1-0 lead giving way to Koji Uehara who slammed the door on Game 3 giving the Sox a 2-1 series lead.  Tazawa struck out Miggy Cabrera with straight gas with ducks on the pond.  Each pitch, New England held its collective breath as the young righty struck out the reigning AL MVP in the biggest spot of the season.  Uehara came in and made rather quick work of Prince Fielder with runners on.  Fair to say Uehara and Tazawa both have Marbles!

Now the Red Sox go into Wednesday night with 2-1 series lead.  Doug Fister will be the opposition.  While he is nothing to sneeze at, he is not Verlander, Scherzer, or Sanchez.  Red Sox fans had been dying to get the Detroit bullpen after the aforementioned triumvirate had pitched 21 innings struck out 35 and given up just two runs.  Now Boston is in the driver’s seat in this series.  Jake Peavy will take the mound tomorrow night.  Peavy, who will be motivated to show Boston they were the big winners in the deadline trade that sent Jose Iglesias to Detroit.

Speaking of Iglesias, he is who no one is talking about.   In Game 2, he made a horrible decision trying to throw Jonny Gomes out on a sure infield hit.  His throw went into the Boston dugout and Gomes was able to take second base with no outs.  Gomes’s run won the game.  In Game 3, he pinch hit, yes Boston fans you read that correctly, and struck out on three pitches.  Meanwhile, Peavy was awesome in the ALDS against Tampa going 5.2 innings giving up just 1 run and throwing just 74 pitches.

There is no doubt this series has been an instant classic.  It will continue tomorrow night at 8 o’clock.  I wish life had a fast forward button.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

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