Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Red Sox Have Their Backs Against The Wall

Team Hoping That History Is On Their Side

The Red Sox possessed the third most potent offense in the Majors this year. You'd hardly know it judging by the first two games of the ALDS.

The Sox totaled just eight hits (four each game) and one run in the two games in Anaheim. They were simply handcuffed by Angel pitching.

The Red Sox 5-0 loss in Game 1 was their first playoff shutout since a 4-0 defeat at Cleveland in Game 2 of the 1995 division series. The Sox had six baserunners but none made it past second base.

Last night they advanced just two runners past first base.

What's happening?

The Red Sox started six players who batted at least .284 during the regular season. There really aren't any holes in the lineup that Terry Francona put on the field in Anaheim.

Yet, the Red Sox have had 61 at-bats in this series and managed just a meager eight hits. This is how the Sox lineup fared over the two games in Anaheim:

Ellsbury 2-7, Pedroia 1-8, Martinez 1-7, Youkilis 1-8, Ortiz 0-8, Bay 1-5, Lowell 0-7, Drew 1-5, Gonzalez 1-4, Kotchman 0-1, Lowrie 0-1

The Red Sox must be as surprised as anyone by all of this. They certainly didn't enter this series lacking in confidence; history is squarely on their side.

Boston has beaten Los Angeles three times in the division series in the last five seasons. The Red Sox won in four games last year after sweeping the Angels in 2004 and 2007 en route to winning the World Series.

And yet they now find themselves with their backs against the proverbial wall, needing to win all three remaining games to advance to the ALCS. In this case, history is on their side once again.

Only four teams have overcome a 0-2 deficit in the ALDS:

1995 Mariners vs. Yankees
1999 Red Sox vs. Indians
2001 Yankees vs. A's
2003 Red Sox vs. A's

As I wrote in a preview of this series, the one thing that may have been working against the Red Sox, and for the Angles, in this series are the odds.

Going back to 1986, the Red Sox have won four consecutive series against the Angels. And, entering this series, they had won nine of the ten post-season games played this decade.

That kind of luck (and baseball is often a game of luck, or good fortune) has to eventually wear out. And if it isn’t luck, then the odds have to change at some point. They always do. The Red Sox finally overcame the Yankees in 2004, after so many years of loss and heartache at the hands of their arch nemesis.

The Angels are hoping for a similar outcome, in which they also finally overcome the adversary that has dominated them for so long. Needing to win just one of the next three games, they are in the proverbial catbird's seat.

The Red Sox, who had the second best home record (52-25) in baseball this season, after the Yankees, are hoping that a return to the familiar and comfy confines of Fenway Park will re-awaken the sleeping giant that is their offense.

And they can take comfort in this; history is on their side. They are just one of three teams to overcome an 0-2 deficit in the ALDS, and they have done it twice.

They have to maintain hope that they can keep that streak, and that history, alive for at least three more games.

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