Game 1 of the 2007 American League Division Series was never in doubt for the Boston Red Sox. Game 2 was a little bit of a different story.
After Josh Beckett made easy work of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the series opener, the Red Sox had to grind it out in the second game, getting a little help from a very unexpected place along the way.
Be sure to tune in to NESN at 8 p.m. ET for a rebroadcast of Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS. Before you do, here are a few things you might have forgotten from that game.
1. Daisuke flops
The Daisuke Matsuzaka experiment was executed with mixed results in his rookie season of 2007. He finished the season with a respectable 15-12 record to go along with a 4.40 ERA, while logging more than 200 innings. In hindsight, the Japanese star never was going to live up to the lofty expectations, but there were times the hurler was downright tremendous for Boston. Game 2 of the ALDS was not one of those. Matsuzaka dealt with traffic in each of his five innings and fell into a 3-0 hole early, as the Angels tagged him for three runs, including an RBI double from old friend Orlando Cabrera. LA chased Matsuzaka in the fifth inning, as he allowed three runs (all earned) on seven hits while walking three in 4 2/3 innings. It was the kind of frustrating performance that ultimately came to define his Red Sox tenure.
2. The Danny Vinik Game
OK, so maybe this game would be remembered for something else when it was all said and done, but don’t forget the name Danny Vinik. The young fan was sitting in the first row down the first-base line just behind the camera well. In the fifth inning, with the Red Sox rallying and trailing 3-2, Manny Ramirez hit a lazy pop-up right down that line. Angels catcher Jeff Mathis looked to have a play on the ball, but as he reached into the stands, Vinik was able to snatch the ball away for a barehanded grab. Instead of popping out to end the inning, Ramirez ended up walking to extend the inning. Mike Lowell followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game 3-3.
“I still can’t believe it,” Vinik told reporters after the game, as he enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. “It was unbelievable. Just seeing it up there, sticking my hand out there and it just landed in my hand. I don’t really remember what happened. Just unbelievable, amazing.”
Vinik, who is the son of minority owner Jeff Vinik, also got a high-five from Stephen King as he later walked back up to the concourse.
3. Big-time bullpen
Red Sox reliever Javier Lopez came on for Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fifth inning. He was able to wiggle out of trouble, retiring the only batter he faced, setting the tone for a dominant effort from the Boston bullpen. Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon combined to toss 4 1/3 no-hit innings to keep the Red Sox in the game after falling behind early.
4. Manny being Manny
Despite the bullpen’s efforts, the Red Sox weren’t able to push anything across, and the game was tied 3-3 entering the bottom of the ninth. Julio Lugo led off the inning with a single and got to second on a Dustin Pedroia groundout. With one out and the winning run on second, Mike Scioscia summoned All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez from the bullpen. K-Rod was in the midst of a four-season run in which he would rack up 194 saves. Rodriguez struck out Kevin Youkilis for the second out, and then the Halos elected to intentionally walk postseason menace David Ortiz to get to Ramirez.
That’s when this happened.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/Boston Red Sox