Call it the Boston Massacre, part two.
The first came some 30 years ago, when the New York Yankees rolled into Boston and demolished the Boston Red Sox, outscoring them 42-9 and taking the AL East lead. It directly led to the infamous Bucky Dent home run and one of many Red Sox heartbreak.
The past two ALCS games have been the latest Boston Massacre.
Outscored 21-5, and now down three games to one, the Boston Red Sox are on the verge of elimination after looking like a champion caliber team for most of the season.
After all, how many people were looking for a Boston/Los Angeles World Series? Those are two cities that are natural enemies. Sure, there's the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry, but there's also the Los Angeles Lakers/Boston Celtics rivalry, renewed this past June. And with the trading away and villainization of Manny Ramirez, it would have been a marquee match.
But that's not going to happen now. The Philadelphia Phillies were too much for the Los Angeles Dodgers to handle and made short work of them. And the Tampa Bay Rays... Oh, Tampa, how you've changed. You've bursted into Fenway and embarrassed the Sox, humiliated them. Two games, two blowouts.
Rocco Baldelli, who looked like he was going to retire at one point this season, has bounced back, hitting a three run homer in game three. In game four, Carl Crawford went five-for-five, and is hitting .500 in this series. The numbers are all in Tampa’s favour.
This isn't because of a total Boston collapse, though. Indeed, in the biggest series he's ever played in, Jason Bay is looking great: he's hitting .400 with 4 RBI. His OPS for these playoffs is 1.268. That's Jason being Manny: Ramirez hit .409 last year in the ALCS.
Flash forward to game five, the last home game for the Red Sox in this series. It's a must-win for them (what series isn't?). But they've got their best pitcher starting for them and the only one who has been able to hold the Rays scoreless this postseason: Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Dice-K only has a career record of two and three against the Rays, but in game one he pitched seven solid innings, striking out nine. He confused the Rays batters and held them hitless through the first six innings.
If Boston wants to advance, he's their best bet right now. They've done it before... but this year? They'd be lucky if the series goes to seven games.
Remember, more sportswriting like this can be found at North of the 400