The 2009 season so far has picked up where October 2008 left off, with an undercurrent of vengeance for last year's playoff wounds. Sox fans had the Opening Day Josh-Becketting of the Rays. Then, the first game of the Angels series Friday night was clearly what Angels fans had been dreaming of throughout the offseason.
The Angels were also playing for something transcendent that night, as the players left their broken hearts on the field following the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. You'd have to be cold-blooded to begrudge them that.
But I was also pretty relieved to see the Sox finally re-assert themselves yesterday, with two homers planted in precisely the same row of the rightfield corner by Jason Bay, on top of another two-run dinger contributed by Mike Lowell. Brad Penny held his own, giving up his obligatory two runs and no more.
The second of Bay's blasts, in the top of the ninth inning, turned out to be invaluable insurance for Papelbon, who struggled through a hellacious bottom of the ninth that included a Torii Hunter homer to bring the Halos within one. The Sox did finally notch that all-important second W, but not without a kind of Easter Penance before they were finally worthy of absolution.
The last two Angels ABs were just pure, grinding baseball hell. Papelbon was clearly not 100%, letting up a hit and two walks to fully juice the bases after the homer. He also managed to strike out Erick Aybar, after a succession of foul balls, so it was a tantalizing, tense thing to watch as he threw pitch after pitch to Howie Kendrick.
I saw a quote from Papelbon on this today, saying he was 'giggling' about how long it went on. "'Man, how many more foul balls is this guy going to hit?' "
Yeah, I know! That's what we were all saying, too. Except we weren't exactly giggling.
Hopefully today will be a day where we can kick back, stuff ourselves with ham, and watch Josh Beckett handle his business with a minimum of drama and carrying on. That would surely be nice.