2007 American League Division Series
The Angels were ready to shake off the Red Sox. Dating back to 1986, they’d lost five playoffs games in a row to Boston. They’d won 94 games and won the A.L. West; the Red Sox had won the East, two games better than the Yankees and 96 wins in all in the tougher division. Probably the Red Sox had the advantage. They’d taken six of the 10 regular-season games between the two. And they had an edge in ERA, at 3.87 compared to the Angels’ 4.23. The Angels hit .284 to Boston’s .279, but the Red Sox had two 100-RBI men in Mike Lowell (120) and David Ortiz (117), while the Angels only had Vladimir Guerrero (125 RBIs), with quite a drop to Orlando Cabrera’s second-best 86.
The two aces faced each other in Game One at Fenway Park. Josh Beckett was 20-7 with a 3.27 earned run average. He gave up a leadoff single to Chone Figgins and saw him go to second and then third on two outs, but then retired the side. John Lackey was 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA. Kevin Youkilis hit a home run off him in the bottom of the first. 1-0 Red Sox. Youk doubled in the third and Ortiz homered, and it was 3-0. Manny walked, took second on a wild pitch, and then scored on Lowell’s single. 4-0. Beckett pitched a complete game four-hit shutout. Lackey lost.
Game Two. Fenway. The Red Sox scored first off Kelvim Escobar (18-7, 3.40), the second-best pitcher for LAA, when he gave up a walk, a single, and a walk, and then a two-run single to J. D. Drew. The Angels took the lead, though, scoring three times off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the top of the second, the first one coming in on a groundout and then one each on back-to-back doubles by Figgins and Cabrera. Things held there until the bottom of the fifth when Dustin Pedroia doubled, and then took third on a groundout. Manager Mike Scioscia had Escobar walk Ortiz intentionally – preferring to take his chances with Manny. But Manny worked a walk. A sacrifice fly scored Pedroia. The game was tied. And it remained tied until the bottom of the ninth. Both teams had in their best relievers – Jonathan Papelbon (1.85 ERA in 59 games) had gotten through a chaotic eighth and through the ninth. Francisco Rodriguez (2.81 in 64 games) came in with one out and Julio Lugo on second. He got Youkilis to strike out, and then walked Ortiz intentionally. That brought up Manny Ramirez – who hit a three-run homer to win the game, 6-3.
Game Three was in California. The Red Sox had now taken seven playoff games in a row from the Angels. It was Jaret Weaver against Curt Schilling. In the top of the fourth, David Ortiz broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff home run. Manny Ramirez matched him with a homer of his own. The score was 2-0 in favor of the Red Sox and that held until the top of the eighth when the Red Sox scored seven times on five hits and a couple of walks, all one run at a time until Coco Crisp singled in runs six and seven. In the bottom of the ninth, with a 9-0 lead, Terry Francona gave Eric Gagne a chance to get some work. Gagne had – to be kind – underperformed in the regular season. He gave up a ground-rule double to Maicer Izturis and then threw a wild pitch. A Howie Kendrick sacrifice fly scored the first Angels run. It was also the last Angels run. Gagne got the next two batters. The Red Sox advanced to the next round, to face the Cleveland Indians, who had knocked off the Yankees.