Give it up to Youkilis. Kevin Youkilis. Maybe he annoys opposing fans, but so what? Youkilis is as passionate as they come, and he produces as well. I could sit and gloat about JD Drew’s big two run homer off the fourth or fifth or sixth best closer in baseball. And I enjoyed that very much. But Youkilis shifted to third, again, because Lowell needs some time to rest because of a torn labrum. And all he does in the bottom of the ninth with Papelbon on the hill, is make a very good barehanded play on a Torii Hunter bunt…fielded it cleanly and made a solid throw to Kotsay at first. As if that is not enough, the next batter pops one into foul territory, and Youkilis makes one of the more exciting plays I have witnessed, in foul territory of course. “Jeteresque,” I would say. He hustled over and stretched his glove as far as humanly possible into a slew of cameramen, to make a truly great play.
Papelbon seems to finally have gathered himself together again. Two innings, one run (which is not his fault) and appeared as dominant as he has been the past few seasons (except for his short stretch this season when he abandoned his splitter.) The splitter was utilized some tonight, which is a good sign. As for Buck Martinez defending Papelbon’s excessive use of the fastball? Martinez stood behind Pap’s decision to use the fastball as much as he had been late in the season. Now I do not know how much Buck watched the Red Sox this season when this was taking place, but he is wrong on this. I don’t mind throwing the fastball most often, it is his best pitch. But abandoning the split, altogether it seemed, just wasn’t the right thing to do. The fastball is the pitch Papelbon will use most often…by a lot, but he might as well use a secondary pitch of his, especially because it is/was a good secondary pitch. And I don’t blame people for getting angry at Pap’s antics. He was pumping his chest and yelling after the final out. Not the way I would go about it, but could be worse. And he is great. so I don’t mind as much as others may. But I do understand why it would anger a fan of the opposite team.
Back to Drew’s homer. How sweet is that swing? I didn’t think it was going to have enough, which tends to happen at times when Drew swings the bat. But Hunter kept running, and the ball kept traveling. When Drew is on, he is very good. Two sweet swings, three RBI, and another poorly hit infield single to add to it…And a nice play in the outfield too.
Jason Bay, once again, replaced Manny very well. I don’t know how well Bay will continue to play, but homering off two very tough righties that he never sees, in his first two postseason games, is a very good way to go. Bay is ok defensively, better than Manny, but nothing special. He can definitely swing the stick with the best of them though.
Very exciting win. I apologize if I did not stay all that objective in this blog, but this is all emotion right now, and objective is not what I am going for. Series is not over, I know from experience, from the good end fortunately. But I have to enjoy where it sits currently.