First things first--let us speak of the sheer and utter majesty that was that complete bomb by Papi in the bottom of the third, a monster which curled around the foul pole and seemed to take all of one second to hit the lower right-field grandstand. I haven't seen a blast from Papi like that since the grand slam he hit against the Angels on Aug. 18.
"That was incredible," my dad kept saying on the phone.
And yeah, I mean, what else is there to say, really, except that Commander Kickass of the Fuck Yeah Brigade (*) dialed said Kickass up to October levels tonight. Which is to say, the "Berserker" setting on his personal Kickass-O-Meter.
Josh Beckett has pitched two complete-game shutouts in his career in the regular season. Tonight, however, was his third in the postseason. In fact, he now has a streak of two consecutive complete-game, postseason shutouts. I have watched him hit 95 and 96 consistently all year long, occasionally reaching back for 97, but tonight he repeatedly showed 98 and 97, coupled with curves in the low 70's.
What else can I say, except that I am in appropriate awe?
Yes, folks, don't attempt to adjust your sets. Josh Beckett has succeeded in momentarily rendering me speechless.
The only thing he didn't do, surprisingly, was punch up the 'tude along with the asskickery. In fact, it was quite the opposite--there was ceremonious but subdued crotch-grabbing and an "atta boy" with awkward man-hug to Tek after the final out was called. A stifled fist-pump after the most miraculous and deadly single pitch I've seen since the final out of the 2003 ALDS ended the eighth. After a lovely catch by Jacoby Ellsbury in left and a nice pick by Lowell racked up two outs in the top of the ninth, Beckett couldn't quite squash a smirk and a tiny, "heh heh" out the corner of his mouth. But that was it*.
One of the things I've been most relishing when I've looked forward to this postseason is the chance to see the kind of f-bombing, fist-pumping freakout awesomeness I could only imagine would come along with October Josh. Instead, he actually looked like he was reining himself in a little. Which is a scary thought when you think about the wicked heat he was unleashing on the Angels all night long.
Fenway, too, let out healthy postseason-level roars in immediate response to the Youkilis and Ortiz home runs, but even then it felt like the place was only just flexing its October muscles.
It's strange, because the postseason is actually one game old. But for all its excitement, there was still an odd kind of muted, anticipatory feeling about this game.
Tonight, it feels like we're just getting started.
P.S. Let me just say that I am pleasantly surprised with the TBS announcers. One of them said of Josh Beckett, "The difference between the Josh Beckett of 2003 and the Josh Beckett of 2007 is that now, he can make the ball sink at 97 miles per hour."
An interesting and at least halfway intelligent observational statement from a national sports broadcaster? Be still my heart.
P.P.S. Tito said "executed his pitches" repeatedly about Josh in his press conference. I wonder if Joshie bit him in the neck this week and infected him with Press Conference Zombie Virus.
* Unless you count the part where he tried to catch Vladi's hit in the ninth with his foot.