2008 American League Division Series 1
From BR Bullpen
|2008 American League Division Series|
|Boston Red Sox
95 - 67 in the AL
|3 - 1
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim|
100 - 62 in the AL
|2008 MLB Postseason|
|AL||LAA - BOS||TB - BOS||PHI - TB|
|TB - CHW|
|NL||CHC - LAD||PHI - LAD|
|PHI - MIL|
|<< 2007||2009 >>|
The first American League Division Series of 2008 matched the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, owners of the best record in baseball, with the Boston Red Sox. It was the third meeting between the two teams in recent years, the Red Sox having swept the Angels on the last two occasions they met, the 2004 and 2007 American League Division Series. However, Los Angeles had won 8 of 9 meetings between the two teams in the regular season.
 The Teams
 Series results
|1||Boston Red Sox 4 Los Angeles Angels 1||October 1||Jon Lester (1-0) John Lackey (0-1)||10:00 p.m.|
|2||Boston Red Sox 7 Los Angeles Angels 5||October 3||Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-0) Ervin Santana (0-0)||9:30 p.m.|
|3||Los Angeles Angels 5 Boston Red Sox 4||October 5||Joe Saunders (1-0) vs. Josh Beckett (0-0)||7:25 p.m.|
|4||Los Angeles Angels 2 Boston Red Sox 3||October 6||John Lackey (0-1) vs. Jon Lester (1-0)||8:35 p.m.|
 Game 1 @ Angel Stadium
|WP: Jon Lester (1-0), LP: John Lackey (0-1), SV: Jonathan Papelbon (1)|
|Home Runs: BOS - Jason Bay (1)|
- Attendance: 44,996
The Red Sox sent to the mound Jon Lester, winner of the decisive game of the 2007 World Series and author of a no-hitter in the regular season, against the Angels' John Lackey, who had won the seventh game of the 2002 World Series as a rookie. Both starting pitchers were thus used to the pressure of big games and pitched accordingly.
The Angels drew first blood in the 3rd inning with an unearned run, courtesy of a single by Garret Anderson, followed by shortstop Jed Lowrie's error on Vladimir Guerrero's grounder and another single by Torii Hunter. Ironically, Lowrie had not made a single error at shortstop during the regular season. The score remained at 1-0 Angels until the 6th when Jason Bay hit a home run to left off Lackey with Kevin Youkilis aboard. L.A. threatened to tie the score in the 8th against reliever Justin Masterson: first, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury robbed Mark Teixeira of a hit with a diving catch of a line drive; Guerrero followed with a single, then Hunter blooped a hit over Youkilis's head at first; however, Youkilis made an excellent play and gunned down Guerrero at third base to stifle the threat. Boston put the game away in the 9th against Scot Shields with RBI singles by Ellsbury and David Ortiz. Jonathan Papelbon pitched an eventless 9th for the save, giving Boston a one game to none lead.
 Game 2 @ Angel Stadium
|WP: Jonathan Papelbon (1-0), LP: Francisco Rodriguez (0-1)|
|Home Runs: BOS - Jason Bay (2), J.D. Drew (1)|
- Attendance: 45,354
Boston took a stranglehold on the series with a 7-5 victory in a thrilling Game 2. The two managers made changes to their line-ups for the game, Terry Francona electing to sit 3B Mike Lowell, bothered for weeks by a hip injury, and to insert Alex Cora at shortstop in place of the rookie Jed Lowrie. Kevin Youkilis moved across the diamond to play third, while Mark Kotsay took his place at 1B. For the Angels, Juan Rivera replaced Gary Matthews in right, and Jeff Mathis started at catcher, as he had done for most of Ervin Santana's starts during the regular season. Both Santana and Boston's starter Daisuke Matsuzaka had put up outstanding records during the regular season, but would be batted around in this game.
The Red Sox struck first and struck hard. After two quick outs in the top of the 1st inning, David Ortiz and Youkilis hit back-to-back singles, J.D. Drew doubled in a run, and Jason Bay followed with his second home run of the series to put the Sox up 4-0, a drive into the rockpile in left-center field. After a 5th consecutive hit, a single by Kotsay, Santana settled down, not giving another hit until the 4th. The Anaheim crowd was stunned, but the Angels immediately began to chip away methodically at the lead. They were helped by Matsuzaka, who, as had been his habit all year, gave up a lot of hits and walks and threw tons of pitches, but never allowed the big blow that could have put the Angels immediately back in the game. Still, they made their own two-out heroics in the bottom of the 1st, with Mark Teixeira, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter stringing together singles to get one run back. Teixeira and Guerrero repeated the pattern in the 3rd inning, but this time Hunter was called out on a very close play at first, ending the inning.
In the 4th, Cora and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back two-out doubles to push Boston's lead to 5-1, but the Angels clawed that run back immediately, when Rivera led off the bottom of the frame with a walk, went to second on a single by Mathis and to third on a ground out, then scored on another two-out base hit, this time by Chone Figgins. The Angels had Matsuzaka in the ropes in the 5th, as Teixeira and Guerrero once again came on base, both drawing walks, followed by a run-scoring single by Hunter. At that point, Dice-K was running full counts to every batter, but used every trick in his repertoire to escape further damage, striking out Rivera and inducing Howie Kendrick and pinch hitter Kendry Morales to hit harmless fly balls. The score was now 5-3, Red Sox.
Santana and reliever Jose Arredondo kept the Sox off the board from the 5th to the 7th, and the Halos mounted another push in the bottom of the 7th. Teixeira and Guerrero once again hit consecutive singles, off Hideki Okajima, prompting Francona to bring young Justin Masterson to the mound in a tight spot. He got Hunter to fly out, walked Rivera, then struck out Kendrick, but Mike Napoli, who had come in to catch in the 6th, drew another walk to bring the score to 5-4. In the 8th inning, Figgins led off with a triple, the Angels' first extra-base hit of the series, and Masterson gave way to All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon. He got the next three batters out on fly balls, but the second, by Teixeira, was deep enough to score the rapid Figgins and the game was tied up at 5, and Angels Stadium was rocking to the sounds of the Rally Monkey.
This was clearly a postseason game, because both managers had brought in their closers in the 8th inning, something almost never seen in the regular season. Papelbon had done the job for the Red Sox, limiting the damage in the bottom of the 8th, but Francisco Rodriguez, hot off a record-setting season, just did not have his best stuff in the 9th. Leadoff hitter Ortiz drove a ball to the fence in right field. Reggie Willits, who had come in as a pinch runner for Rivera earlier, jumped to catch it, but the ball bounced off his glove for a double. Rodriguez almost picked off pinch runner Coco Crisp at second, but Crisp managed to sneak his hand to the bag behind Kendrick's tag. And then, Drew quieted the crowd with a long drive to center field, off a mediocre Rodriguez fastball, to put the Sox back in the lead, 7-5. A shaken Rodriguez gave up two more singles before inducing Jason Varitek to ground into an inning-ending double play. Papelbon came back for a second inning of work. The first batter, Hunter, laid a beautiful bunt down the third base line, but Youkilis demonstrated he was just as good a third baseman as a first baseman, making an even nicer play to throw him out. Youkilis added an exclamation mark on a foul pop-up by the next batter, pinch hitter Gary Matthews, snagging the ball on top of the photographers' pen as it was about to fall out of play. Papelbon then struck out the hapless Kendrick for the fourth time of the evening to end the game and send the two teams to Boston with Los Angeles in a deep, deep hole.
 Game 3 @ Fenway Park
|WP: Jered Weaver (1-0), LP: Javier Lopez (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Mike Napoli 2 (2)|
- Attendance: 39,067
Game 3 was another thrilling affair, with the Angels staving off elimination in 12 innings. On the mound for Boston was Josh Beckett, the pitching hero of the 2007 Postseason, who had had a much less brilliant season in 2008 and had missed much of September with arm woes, while left-hander Joe Saunders started for Los Angeles, one of a trio of Angel pitchers to have been invited to the 2008 All-Star Game.
Beckett did not have his usual explosive fastball working on the cold October evening at Fenway Park, and had to rely on guile and off-speed breaking balls to get through five innings. He threw a lot of pitches, worked extremely slowly, and always seemed to be teetering on the edge of being blown out of the game, but he still left the game with the score tied. What he did give up was a lead-off double to Chone Figgins in the 1st, which the Angels turned into a run when Juan Rivera drew a bases-loaded walk five batters later, and two long balls over the Green Monster by Mike Napoli; the first, in the 3rd inning, came with Vladimir Guerrero aboard. On the other side, Saunders was let down by his fielders in the 2nd inning. He did load the bases after two outs on two walks and a single by Jason Varitek, but he seemingly had Jacoby Ellsbury retired twice to end the inning: first on a close pitch with two strikes on which Ellsbury froze but that umpire Kerwin Danley called ball 3, and then on a high pop-up to short center field which landed between CF Torii Hunter and 2B Howie Kendrick as neither player took charge. The eminently catchable ball resulted in a base-clearing single and 3-1 Red Sox lead. In the bottom of the 5th, Saunders got into trouble again after two outs, giving up consecutive doubles to Coco Crisp and Ellsbury, and left after 4 2/3 innings with the score tied 4-4.
It became a battle of the bullpens and both managers sent their best arms to the mound, and they all did the job: Jose Arredondo, Darren Oliver and Scot Shields for the Angels; Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima and Justin Masterson for the Red Sox. A couple of baserunners erased at second base - Hunter trying to stretch a single into a double, and Ellsbury, stealing and then overrunning the base - helped to keep the score at 4-all through regulation innings. The two teams' closers came on in the 10th: Jonathan Papelbon pitched two solid innings for Boston, but Francisco Rodriguez ran into trouble again for Los Angeles, loading the bases before escaping without giving up the winning run in the 10th. Jered Weaver, the Angels' fifth starter, came out for the 11th, and he continued to pitch well as the night wore on. In the top of the 12th, with Papelbon spent, Terry Francona sent lefthander Javier Lopez to the mound, as he had no more "money" pitchers left. The Angels got to him, as Erick Aybar drove home the hero of the night, Napoli, for the winning run. Weaver came back for another scoreless inning in the bottom of the 12th, and the Angels had managed to force a Game 4.
 Game 4 @ Fenway Park
|WP: Manny Delcarmen (1-0), LP: Scot Shields (0-1)|
|Home Runs: none|
- Attendance: 38,785
Game 4 was another closely fought game, with the two Game 1 pitchers, Jon Lester for Boston and John Lackey for Los Angeles, returning to the mound. The Red Sox would play without 3B Mike Lowell, who had been placed on the disabled list after showing obvious discomfort from his hip injury, both at bat and in the field, in Game 3. So Kevin Youkilis went back at 3B, with Mark Kotsay taking his place at 1B. However, an uninformed observer would have found it hard to believe that the two were not playing their regular positions, as the two put on a clinic on how to play the infield corners, making one fine play after another. For the Los Angeles Angels, it was another story though: their infield, apart from the always outstanding Mark Teixeira at 1B, was shaky, and although charged with only one error, made a number of sloppy plays that did not help the team's cause.
The two starting pitchers were at their best and kept the opposite batters in check over the early innings. In the bottom of the 5th, Boston put the first runs on the board when Kotsay hit a leadoff single, then after one out moved to third on a single by Jason Varitek. The next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, hit a ground ball right at 2B Howie Kendrick that looked like a sure-fire double play to end the inning. But, hesitating between trying to tag Varitek as he passed, or throwing to second, Kendrick bobbled the ball and had no choice but to throw to first to get Ellsbury. Kotsay scored, and Dustin Pedroia, hitless in the series until then, followed with a double off the Green Monster to score Varitek for a 2-0 lead.
Lester continued to mow down the Angels, and Lackey gave up nothing else, even if his defense put him in trouble a couple more times. Both pitchers left after seven innings of work. Hideki Okajima took over for Boston in the top of the 8th, but after two outs walked Teixeira. Justin Masterson came in relief and walked Vladimir Guerrero, then a mix-up in signs with Varitek resulted in a passed ball, advancing both runners. Masterson's presence in the game at that point was a sign that closer Jonathan Papelbon was not available after pitching two innings the night before. Torii Hunter followed with a single scoring both runners and the score was tied.
Scot Shields pitched a perfect inning for L.A. in the bottom of the 8th, then the Angels were at it again. Kendry Morales, pinch hitting for Juan Rivera, drove a ball to the Green Monster for a double. He was replaced by pinch runner Reggie Willits, who moved to third on Kendrick's sacrifice bunt. Manny Delcarmen came in to pitch for Masterson. Angels manager Mike Scioscia called for Erick Aybar to lay down a squeeze bunt on a 2 and 0 count, but he missed the ball altogether, although it was a pitch right in the middle of the strike zone. Willits was caught in a no man's land, and before he could react properly, the slow-footed Varitek, further burdened by his catching gear, was barreling down on him with the ball and tagged him just before he could return to third base. The ball then rolled out of Varitek's glove, but third base umpire Tim Welke ruled Willits out. It was now the Red Sox's turn to try to end the game. After one out, Jason Bay pushed a ball to shallow right field. Willits, who had moved there defensively, dove for it but missed it; had the ball stayed in play, Bay could well have had an inside-the-park home run, but the Angels caught a break as the ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Kotsay then smoked a line drive down the right field line, but Teixeira caught it for the second out. Jed Lowrie came to bat and blooped a single to right field. Willits charged the ball but had no chance to throw out Bay, who was running on contact, at home plate. Bay slid in ahead of the throw, sending the Red Sox to the ALCS.
 Related Sites
|Major League Baseball American League Division Series