Tagged: Justin Masterson

A Review of the Red Sox Offseason

Now that there are less than three weeks until pitchers and catchers report, it seems like an evaluation of our teams’ offseason actions would be in tact. The interesting thing about the Red Sox’s offseason, is that it took a while to get started. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. 

It’s not like we had a disappointing 2008 season, not advancing to the World Series “isn’t the end of the world” as Manny Ramirez would say. On the other hand, the Yankees had a bit more of a disappointing 2008 season– let’s just say it wasn’t up to their expectations. So they went out and blew spent $20 million more than they should’ve on CC Sabathia. They made a risky investment on AJ Burnett, and they signed Mark Teixeira (this is probably their wisest investment) to an eight year deal. 
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With all of these investments, the Yankees have spent roughly $422.5 million dollars. As far as I know, none of these contracts involved “incentives”. Personally, I think incentives are the best type of contracts because you set specific goals for the players to achieve, and if they don’t achieve this goal, then you don’t have to pay them. 
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When the Red Sox signed Pedroia and Youkilis, I really didn’t see much of a need to put incentives in those contracts. First of all, they both finished within the top three for MVP voting, and the last time that happened was 1986. A wise investment? I think so. Plus, both players are products of the Red Sox farm system, and both have mentioned that they love playing in Boston. The Red Sox signed Pedroia for six years, $40 million dollars, and the Yankees signed Sabathia for the same amount of years, but $100 more million dollars than that. Pedroia won the MVP and Sabathia wasn’t even in the top three in the National League.
We all know that Mark Teixeira is good, but I feel like with Kevin Youkilis, I’m not even “settling”. Since I’ve established the legality of comparing Youkilis and Teixeira in one of my recent posts, it is needless to say that we are getting Youkilis for one hell of a bargain. 
I know our starting rotation isn’t the best in the majors, but it’s definitely up there. A lot depends on the durability of Dice-K, if Beckett can bounce back, if Lester can stay consistent, the dancing ability of Wakefield’s knuckleball, and new veterans like Smoltz and Penny.
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At first, I was all for signing Derek Lowe (after AJ went to the Yankees), but what I wasn’t thinking about was the future (ironic right?). If we had gotten Derek Lowe, that would have seriously displaced the abundance of our young pitching talent. Lowe would’ve been an overpriced (14-11 with an ERA over 3.00 is not worth $14 mil or whatever he was demanding) three year investment, where as people like Smoltz and Penny are low risks with potentially high rewards. Plus, they have incentive contracts, my favorite!! 
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This gives our young pitchers even more time to develop and fine tune everything in the minors, and since both Penny and Smoltz’s contracts are one year deals, it will give our young stars the opportunity to start full time next year. 
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Then there’s the bullpen. In 2008 our bullpen had one of the highest ERAs in the majors, we went out and signed Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito. Their statistics speak for themselves, but I have a feeling that the addition of the both of them, plus having Justin Masterson full time, will really solidify our bullpen. Plus, we signed Papelbon to a well deserved deal. 
There is still a possibility for that deal to go long term, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to (and neither does Papelbon). The Red Sox could potentially wait until after the 2009 season to sign him to a long term contract, but there is no one else in the Majors I would rather have right now. 
Not to mention the signings of Josh Bard and Rocco Baldelli. It’s nice that Bard is getting a second chance, but the front office is essentially getting a second chance as well seeing that Theo classified the trade as a “short sighted mistake”. Having a player like Baldelli coming off the bench? Need I say more than that? 
Once you look at all of these signings up close, it seems like it all kind of crept up on you. Just the other day, my math teacher asked me: “Since when did the Red Sox bullpen become so good?”. 
It has been reported that the Red Sox have included a deadline with Varitek’s latest offer. Deadline or no deadline, it doesn’t make a difference. Varitek needs to take this deal if he wants to have a job in 2009. That’s how scary the market is, if he doesn’t take this offer, he might not have a place to play. Yeah, it will be a pretty big pay cut, but a lot of players have taken some major league pay cuts. Jason Varitek, it’s up to you. 
-Elizabeth

Future Blog of the Red Sox Makes #19

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Wow, I can’t believe that my blog made number nineteen among Fan Blogs. When I joined this site, I honestly did not expect to even be in the Top 100 at any time, so this is really surprising. So of course the only thing I can do is thank the people who read these, and the comments that they leave. I truly enjoy reading all of them and replying. And I love reading your blogs as well! I guess this means that I’m one of the most popular young bloggers on the site (alright ‘Burgh Blues, you’ve got me)– and the most popular young Red Sox blog on the site? But hey, Bigpapi72 is up there too! You guys are really making my dreams come true!! 

So as I was scrolling through the comments on Mark’s ‘Latest Leaders‘, I noticed that Jimmy dedicates whatever ranking he is to a player. So Jimmy, consider yourself an inspirational figure because you’ve inspired me to do the same!
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I dedicate number nineteen to the great Red Sox center fielder Fred Lynn. You can see him in my ‘Best Red Sox of All Time‘ entry. 
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Alright, and a quick shout out to Josh Beckett as well who also wears number nineteen. I still think that he should’ve won the Cy Young award in 2007 rather than CC Sabathia. I had this argument earlier this morning with my friend, Nick. Obviously, I won :). 
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The Red Sox have truly made their bullpen one of the best in baseball. The bullpen is where the Sox struggled the most (other than injuries) last year in my opinion, and Theo has really salvaged that. We just recently picked up Takashi Saito. He’s been with the Dodgers for the past three years and has a 1.95 ERA. I love the sound of that!! The Red Sox have one of the best bullpen’s in baseball going into the 2009 season.
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A couple of entries ago, ‘Levelboss’ asked me where Masterson is going to go. I think that’s one of the best questions anyone could ask about our pitching staff right now. Justin Masterson is so versatile that he could start OR be a force in the bullpen. Now that we have Smoltz probably going into a starting slot when he returns around June, we could probably have Masterson starting until then. The thing is, the Red Sox are going to have to look at Brad Penny during Spring Training to see if he’s destined for the bullpen, or the starting rotation until June. 
MLBlogs I want YOU to offer your opinions about my research paper–don’t worry it’s about baseball. 
In my death AP American History class, we have a research paper, and I’ve decided to manipulate it so I can write about baseball. Basically, we have to write about how new ‘spaces and liberties’ were created in America’s Gilded Age. Luckily, we can talk about cultural spaces as well– and baseball is one of the richest cultural ‘spaces’ in the history of America! And I think you guys have some of the best opinions and ideas out there. So, if you have any opinions or suggestions on this topic, I’d be happy to hear it! 
-Elizabeth

A Year in Review

Well to start off, I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas. Santa brought me some wonderful Red Sox artifacts to decorate my room and car with. I’m pretty sure my room looks like a mini-Red Sox gift shop, which is perfectly fine with me, and not a big surprise to my friends. As far as my car goes, I’m pretty sure people will know who drives it when I park near my school next year (if possible). So if anyone is seeking vengeance on me, all they have to do is look for the Red Sox license plate. And now, to salvage the lack of baseball, I have the amazing 2007 Red Sox playoff run (and special moments). That might be able to carry me through to Spring Training (or at least another week to it). 

Anyway, when I was on the Sox site yesterday, Aiden Gonzalez posted a nice Red Sox Year in Review type article highlighting the major events of each month. Here are some of my favorite memories from each month of 2008.
January:
I’m pretty sure it was January when the Sox were in the Johan Santana sweepstakes with the Mets. I was so nervous during that because I really didn’t want Johan Santana. Sure he’s an incredible pitcher and what not, but we would’ve had to give up guys like Jon Lester, Justin Masterson and Jacoby Ellsbury. Think about how much that would’ve changed the season without those guys! Lester wouldn’t have become the ace of the Red Sox, there wouldn’t have been that beautiful no-no on May 19; Justin Masterson wouldn’t have been able to give the Red Sox life in the late innings of the tight playoff games; and we wouldn’t have the future star center fielder on the Red Sox, who makes incredible catches almost on a daily basis, and can steal any time. 
February:
The Sox signed Youkilis to that one year $3 million dollar deal during this month. That was a relief for sure seeing that he finished third in the MVP voting, batted an incredible .312, and was so helpful when he showed his versatility when he moved to third base. I sure hope that the Sox can sign him to a long term contract. 
Also, one of the most important men during every game, Terry Francona, received a three-year contract extension with options for the next two years. 
During this month the Sox also signed the good guy Sean Casey, who gave us laughs when he tripped over second base, then crawled back; Bobby Kielty, who made an incredible catch during one of the Spring Training games I was at; and Bartolo Colon, who wasn’t much of a help at all. 
March:
The beautiful Spring Training month, in which I was lucky enough to go to two glorious games at City of Palms Park. I met some really great people, and after the games, I would walk down to the player’s parking lot to try and get an autograph. I only got one, but I ran out into the middle of the street to stop Jed Lowrie’s car! It was at these Spring Training games that I knew that Jed Lowrie would come up and be a great help to the Red Sox. It was also at the first Spring Training game I went to that Beckett first started having back spasms. 
April
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One word: Japan! Those games were not at the most convenient times. I made the mistake of getting up at 5:30 am because I thought there would be pre-game. Apparently not. I remember the first game perfectly, at school we had assembly, but a few of my friends and I were sitting in the very back on my friend Nick’s iPhone, watching Game Day very intensly. We had to hush ourselves when Brandon Moss hit the home run and when Manny Ramirez hit the double. Then, we all ran to the closest room with cable (conveniently my next classroom) and watched the game. I led the five minute rebellion in which I refused to let class begin until the last out was recorded. 
A couple of good games I was reminded of while reading this article was the ninth inning go-ahead home run in Clevland by Manny, battling back from five runs to beat the Rangers 6-5, and Youk’s walk off single that ended Roy Halladay’s shutout. 
One thing I remember quite vividly was when David Ortiz came up with the bases loaded in that Rangers game, and I called it. I knew he would come out of the slump right then and there, placement and everything.
May
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Where to begin but Lester’s beautiful no hitter against the Royals on May 19? I was studying for my finals (while watching the game of course) but when I realized it in the seventh inning, I put the books away, to see one of the most beautiful performances of the year. The Sox won on my birthday in a late West Coast game (which I stayed up for of course even though I had finals the next day), and Manny hit number 500 at my little get together with some friends. 
June
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I was away for the last half of June at camp, but I was able to see Jacoby break the rookie record for steals, and see half of JD Drew’s incredible month, and of course most memorably, the Coco Crisp fight. I had seen things get heated the night before, with Iwamura, and I knew that as soon as Shields hit Coco (purposefully of course) that Coco would go after him. 
July
We all saw Josh Hamilton’s memorable Home Run Derby which was absolutely incredible. And we all saw the All-Star game, appropriately at Yankee Stadium. Did any of you get to go? It was so nice to see JD Drew be named the MVP of the All-Star game for helping to lead the American League to victory. Probably the saddest part of July for me, was the Manny Ramirez trade. I was upset at him for being a d-bag the past couple of weeks, but I still loved him to death. He still waved to me at Fenway Park, and he was still Manny! I found out when I arrived at my cousin’s house in Delaware, I didn’t cry though– I was in shock, and I realized that it had kind of been inevitable. 
August
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I came to love Jason Bay. I remember the walk-off run he scored in his first game, and the home run he hit in his second.He
was really a team player and I loved that about him. I hope the Sox sign him to a long contract. The injuries hit hard this month: Lowell, Drew, Wakefield (even though it was the best month of the season), and Lester got AL Pitcher of the Month honors.
September
My favorite part of this month was September 15. My father and I took the second half of the day off, drove four and a half hours to Tampa to see the Red Sox and Rays. It was nice to see the Red Sox win. What I found funny is that upon walking in, Sweet Caroline was playing! So of course the cluster of Red Sox fans were belting Sweet Caroline! We got back at 3 in the morning, and I had to take a Geometry test the next day. It was all worth it though. 
On September 23, a win against the Indians, the Sox assured themselves a playoff spot, which is always special to watch, and even though we didn’t win the division, the Wild Card was just as good. 
October
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“There’s only one October!” as October Gonzo puts it. This was the month I joined MLBlogs, and I’m sure glad that I did. I’ve met so many great people (more on that next entry). One of my favorite parts of the year, the high stress playoffs! I was in the Bahamas with my friend for the first two games, but luckily we got the games in our room, so I was up late watching them of course. I remember I fell asleep during Game 3 with a broom, and watching the magical Game 4. Jason Varitek making that beautiful play down the third base line, the suicide squeeze, Jed’s walk-off single, and Jason Bay sliding into home! That was so exciting.
The ALCS was even more stressful. Dice-K pitched beautifully at the Trop in Game 1, but it went downhill during Games 2-4. I was so scared during Game 5, especially when it was 7-0. But as soon as Pedroia got that first RBI, I knew. And we all know the miracle that happened. Game 7 was somewhat of a disappointment, but it was still a beautiful season. 
November
Pedroia snagged a couple of awards: a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and the AL MVP Honors. A great first two seasons for him. Coco Crisp was also dealt to the Royals, and I miss his feistiness, but I think we all knew that Jacoby is the future. The Sox also picked up Wake’s option, and signed Wes Littleton. Jacoby Ellsbury finished third in ROY voting, and Francona finished fourth in the manager of the year award. 
December
Pedroia got his six year contract extension, which was a very happy day in RSN seeing that Pedroia essentially “embodies a Red Sox player” as Epstein put it, and Junichi Tazawa was signed. 
It was a great year for the Red Sox, and I hope 2009 is as well! 

How about bringing Derek Lowe back?

So I’ve heard that Derek Lowe wants to come back, and that the Sox would be interested in starting him. What harm could that do? I think everyone still loves him in RSN, there’s no real reason not to. He only left after ’04 because he was a free agent, it’s not like he betrayed an entire organization and went to a team that he said he would never go to (yeah, y’all know who I’m talking about right?). Plus, it would add some serious depth to our starting rotation. Look who we already have:

1. Josh Beckett
2. Dice-K Matsuzaka
3. Jon Lester
Those three right there are going to be sick, especially if we can a) get Dice-K to go more innings and b) get Beckett healthy, and c) just keep Lester the way he is. Now, we picked up the option on Wakefield, so he could be the number 4 starter, but think about this: say we pick up Lowe, he’d be our number 4 starter. So we could either make Timmy our fifth starter, or put him in the bullpen, like a Mike Timlin type person. We could have one of our darling prospects vie for a fifth spot in the rotation, and if that doesn’t work, then we just bring Wake back into the rotation. We can let Terry and John fret over that when it comes time, right now, I hope that they’re sleeping. 
According to the ‘Hot Stove Blog’ the Sox talked with the Rangers about Salty. Apparently, the Rangers “covet” Buchholz, or the Sox would give up someone like Masterson or Bowden. I don’t think anything SHOULD happen. Here’s why
1) We should re-sign Varitek. Like I’ve said, you don’t just give up on a guy after a bad year, give him another chance. He’s so important. If we re-sign him, we have no need for Salty. 
2) Sure Clay Buchholz went 2-9, but that’s because they screwed him over in his rehab stint. Apparently, he’s doing pretty well in the AFL. Why not see how he is in spring training? How much would we regret it if he became a big star on another team? The Sox have a knack for developing some wicked players.
3) JUSTIN MASTERSON! Why would we trade him? He’s amazing, did you NOT see him in the post season? He could be a potential fifth starter, OR add depth to the ‘pen, which we desperately need!!!
4) Michael Bowden. I hear he’s good, let’s develop him!!! 
So yeah, I’m pretty protective of allthe players, I really like them all, and I want to keep them for a while. I’m open to a Julio Lugo trade, I wonder who we could get for him? 

Looks like the Sox bullpen can get the job done…

Game 6 isn’t going to be remembered for some spectacular, unbelievable feat like Curt Schilling’s bloody sock of 2004, or Pedro’s six innings of hitless relief in 1999. Josh Beckett pitched through five laborious innings, but with his lack of perfection, it was pretty damn good for what it’s worth. Everyone is so proud of him, or everyone should be. After starting out rough for the Sox this post season, he really turned it around for this start giving up only four hits (two of them home runs: one to BJ Upton, and one to Jason Bartlett). Stupid TBS decided to have a power problem that forced me to endure 15 minutes of ‘The Steve Harvey Show’. Watching it on gameday just isn’t the same, no matter how fancy they try and make it.I’m hoping that TBS is forbidden from further broadcasting crucial MLB games. The early deficit was no problem for the Red Sox. The RBI machine, Kevin Youkilis belted a solo home run in the top of the second inning to even it up. Barlett’s throwing error proved crucial once again when it allowed Dustin Pedroia to get on base in the next inning. Big Papi then hit a double putting runners on second and third for Kevin Youkilis. Kevin Youkilis grounded into a fielder’s choice, but it did score Dustin Pedroia. Youk always does his job doesn’t he? Now, after going 0-for-14 in this ALCS, I knew it was time for Jason Varitek. When he got up to the plate in the sixth inning (was it?) I knew. I don’t even know how, but I knew. I didn’t have a single doubt in my mind. I called his shot, placement and everything. And it was our captain that broke the tie. It was then an RBI single by David Ortiz that gave us a much needed insurance run. Not that any lead was at all comfortable.

I knew that Terry Francona would do some kind of combination with Okajima, Masterson and Papelbon. It would either be M.O.P. (mop ’em up!) or O.M.P (Oh my Papelbon!!!). Okajima, once again, came through for us as that “hero in the dark” and with eight outs to go, it seemed like the Rays were in a similar situation that the Sox were in only two nights ago, with a much smaller deficit. But it was the Red Sox bullpen that was able to hold onto it. I swear, Terry Francona loves Justin Masterson, but who wouldn’t? He was in AA early this year and now he’s our eighth inning man? Even though he got two men on quickly, John Farrell came out and calmed him down, and Masterson was all strikes from there! Jonathan Papelbon came in and pitched a solid ninth, but you could tell he didn’t have his normal stuff when his fastball peaked at 93 mph. It worked though! And now, once again, it’s time for game 7.
I’m happy that Terry Francona is going to be giving Jon Lester the ball. We’ve got to ignore what happened in Game 3 and just focus on Game 7. I think that it was the fact that everyone was so confident in Lester, the fact that everyone had already chalked up a win for him, I think it just got to his head. He’s still a young guy, and the key here, is to not let his emotions get the best of him. As for Matt Garza, the key for him is to get him really pissed off. Start fouling off on purpose, start bunting, stealing, whatever. If we can get a run or two in the first inning, Garza will go sooner. I think Garza gets over confident too. In Game 5 at Fenway he was joking around and shushing the crowd, as if he had already opened the bottles of champagne. But boy was he in for a surprise. I think the Rays are still going to have that ‘deer caught in headlights look’. Pena thinks that they’re due for a turn around, but they already had their peak. The Red Sox are still riding their turn around, and they’re not stopping yet. I believe in Jon Lester. I don’t care about his last start, and he said that last year is irrelevant too (although he has pitched in a clinching game). And he’s absolutely right. He just needs to focus on this game. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again. It’s time for Game 7, it’s not time to say: oh we’re making that same comeback like we did in ’04 and ’07. No. If you focus on the past, then you definitely will never progress. It’s nice to think about, and it still leaves me a little bleary eyed, but you’ve got to focus on the present. You can’t even think about the future for that matter. If you focus on advancing to the World Series, then you’re not gonna win Game 7. You’ve got to build the bridge before you cross it. We’ve got to focus not only on making Matt Garza royally pissed off, we’ve got to focus on winning every inning, and concentrate on winning every pitch, and for Jon Lester, he’s got to focus on executing every pitch. This is not going to be easy, it never is. The Sox have a lot of momentum going into this game, but that does not mean that it’s over. 
This just in (5:21pm) Terry Francona has announced the lineup:
1. Coco Crisp (CF)
2. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
3. David Ortiz (DH)
4. Kevin Youkilis (3B)
5. JD Drew (RF)
6. Jason Bay (LF)
7. Mark Kotsay (1B)
8. Jason Varitek (C)
9. Alex Cora (SS)
Jon Lester (SP)
I’m fine with everyone in this lineup, except for Alex Cora. But, I trust Terry Francona, so I’m not gonna question his decisions. Jed didn’t help us produce last night, or the night before, so it’s time to give someone else a chance. I have a good feeling about Jason Bay tonight!
I believe in everyone in this lineup, I believe in Terry Francona’s decision. 
It’s going to be crazy, it’s going to be epic. I believe that the Red Sox can win this game!
-Elizabeth

“I don’t believe what I just saw” Miracles Can Happen

Tessie, “Nuf Ced” McGreevey shouted
We’re not here to mess around
Boston, you know we love you madly
Hear the crowd roar to your sound
Don’t blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn’t live without you
Tessie, you are the only only only


We were down 7-0 after the sixth inning. People were quite literally leaving Fenway Park, a lot of them. What they didn’t realize though, and what they don’t have, is the magic of the Red Sox. Miracles CAN happen. We just can’t stop believing. And trust me, we didn’t. Dustin Pedroia started it all off with an RBI single, and Big Papi followed with a 3 run homer that you knew was gone the second that he hit it. It was 7-4. Could miracles happen… again? Next inning, JD Drew hits a towering two run homer, Mark Kotsay hits a double and Coco Crisp gets an RBI to tie the game. We TIED the game. The greatest comeback in Red Sox postseason history (in a single game), perhaps in baseball postseason history. We scored eight runs after almost all hope was lost. We really did focus on just game 5, we really did just focus on all nine innings, and we really did focus on pitch by pitch. The middle relief, was outstanding. Justin Masterson, is absolutely incredible. That double play that he got Carlos Pena to ground into, it kept my faith going. Jonathan Papelbon came in for two solid innings of relief before that. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay are on first and second with JD Drew up to the plate. JD Drew lines one into right field over the Rays’ head and Kevin Youkilis comes around to score! 
It’s not over yet, we’re going to Tampa Bay and it’s time to look forward to Game 6. There will be no champagne celebrating for the Rays tonight. One of the TBS commentators mentioned that the Rays fans were dancing in the streets of St. Petersburg. Well, I think he got that backwards. The fans of Fenway were dancing in the streets of Yawkey Way. We’re going to Tampa.
Miracles can happen baby

And the cowbells are silenced in game 1

Game 2 NLCS: Philles are now 2-0 over the Dodgers, winning 8-5. Not only did some of the RBIs come form the reliable Shane Victorino, but 3 of them came from Brett Myers, the pitcher! Doesn’t look like the Dodgers are going to win in 5 now, looks like they’re going to have to submerge from a 2-0 deficit first.

Game 1 ALCS: Daisuke Matsuzaka carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and came close to making history. Dice-k settled after a strenuous first inning of 27 pitches. Walking 3 to load up the bases. Both Matsuzaka and Shields were dominant, but Dice-K was the one that struck out 9 and only gave up four hits in 7 innings. After putting two men on in the eighth, the bullpen did the rest getting the last six outs. Justin Masterson got Evan Longoria to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the eighth, and once again, the Rays left runners stranded. The Red Sox got the first run on a sacrifice fly by Jed Lowrie to score Jason Bay. The second run came on a RBI double by Kevin Youkilis to score Dustin Pedroia. Jonathan Papelbon came in for the ninth and got a quick 1-2-3 inning. The Red Sox had lost 8 of 9 at Tropicana Field this year, but this is the post season, not the regular season. We can’t count anyone in, or anyone out for that matter, in this ALCS. 
Going to a playoff game and getting good seats? 200 dollars
Getting out of a jam to get the Rays to leave two men on and silencing the cowbells? Priceless.
“There’s only one October!”
-Elizabeth