Backs to the Wall: Red Sox One Game From Elimination

Filed in Headline, Sports by on October 10, 2009 1 Comment

Down two games to none in the best of five Division Series, the Red Sox are one loss away from the being eliminated from the postseason.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Red Sox have fared exceptionally well in recent years when backed into the same predicament. This includes the historic comeback Boston waged against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS when, down three games the none, the Red Sox took the next four straight en route to a World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. It was—and is—the only time in baseball history that a team has pulled off that feat.

Other series’ have produced similar season-saving streaks. Boston teams in 1995 and 2003 overcame 0-2 Division Series holes to advance, beating Cleveland and Oakland, respectively, in those years. In 2007 Cleveland had them on the brink in the ALCS before Boston won three straight elimination games to advance to the World Series. Last year, Boston nearly did the same in the Championship Series, taking two straight do or die games before falling short in Game 7 against the Rays.

Since 2003, the Red Sox have gone 13-3 in elimination games.

With a record like that, it is certainly possible that another magical comeback could be in store. The final score of the first two games of this year’s series belies the closeness of the contests. In Game 1, it took one bad pitch from Lester—which yielded a monstrous three-run home run to Torii Hunter—to put the game away. In Game 2, a three-run inning snapped a 1-1 tie. In both cases, the game essentially turned on a single play; either game could easily have ended in Boston’s favor.

To be fair, Angels pitchers have been incredible so far, holding Boston to one run over 18 innings for a 0.50 team ERA. In that time, the Red Sox have managed only eight hits, four in each game.

So how do the Sox avoid being sent packing? It sounds too simplistic to be true, but the answer is to finally score some runs.

Pitching has been solid, for the most part. Again, a bad pitch in each game sealed Boston’s losses. Had the Sox put together any sort of offense at all, they could now be up 2-0.

“Ifs” are useless in hindsight. The only thing Boston can do is to look ahead and take it one game at a time.

In Game 3, Scott Kazmir is set to go for the Angels against Clay Buchholz. Kazmir was a pest for the Sox when he pitched in Tampa. But he’s struggled this year, posting a sub-par ERA of 4.89 on the season. Though Buccholz’s ERA isn’t much lower at 4.29, that number is bloated by two horrible starts to end the season in which he gave up thirteen runs combined. In the eight games prior to those, Buchholz gave up either one or no runs in six starts.

The odds look favorable for Boston with a pitching matchup like that. And should Boston win tomorrow, they would send Matsuzaka, who’s been stellar since returning from two months on the DL this summer, to the mound in Game 4.

The Red Sox have their work cut out for them if they hope to advance. While a serendipitous three game run would be a nice gift to start next week, the prospect is still unlikely.

Unlikely, but not impossible.

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