Walk-off provides extra adrenaline
Despite cross-country flight, strong turnout for Sox's workout
ANAHEIM -- Where were the bags under the eyes? Where was the dragging baseball team that was supposed to be running on fumes after landing in Southern California at 5:31 a.m. PT on Saturday?
It was as if Manny Ramirez's walk-off three-run home run -- which looked more like a bottle rocket in real time at 12:44 a.m. ET -- had produced extra doses of adrenaline and caffeine on the day after.
The Red Sox were an enthusiastic team during an optional afternoon workout in advance of Sunday's Game 3 of this American League Division Series against the Angels.
A dramatic win can make a cross-country journey feel a lot shorter, especially when it gives said team a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series.
"The trip was a lot shorter," said Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo. "When you win, everybody is happy. The whole team is happy. It makes it easy. When you go ahead 2-0, especially when we have Curt Schilling on the mound [for Game 3], we're in very good shape."
Speaking of Schilling, the big right-hander spent most of Friday night's wild Game 2 flying ahead to California along with ace Josh Beckett.
Schilling had a good story to tell about how he found out about Ramirez's game-ender.
"We were delayed taking off," said Schilling. "And our phones and our ability to follow the game went out right after J.D. [Drew] drove in the first two runs. We got an update -- it was 2-2. Then we got an update that it was 3-3 in the sixth. Then we got an update it was 3-3 in the seventh. So we were trying to figure out what happened. We landed and we knew that the Indians had won the game [against the Yankees] on the way to the hotel. Our phones ran out of power at the end.
"And we literally stepped out of the car in front of the hotel and looked into the hotel bar. ... On my phone, it said, 'Manny put the ball in play.' And I looked at the TV and Manny had his hands up. We walked in the bar where there were a bunch of Angels fans sitting, and I was acting like a 2-year-old. I was just screaming. I don't think they were all that excited. But that was literally [what happened]. Stepped out of the cab and Manny hit the ball. So it was a pretty wild night."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona had mentioned before Game 2 that, given the travel schedule, Saturday would be the epitome of an optional workout. But the turnout was far beyond what anyone would have guessed.
Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Lugo, Mike Lowell, Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Schilling, Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka were just some of the participants.
"I slept all right on the plane; [I] just wanted to come in today and work the kinks out a little bit -- just kind of get the blood flowing," said Drew. "I could have easily just laid around and kind of slept, but I didn't want to be too stiff coming into tomorrow for the early game."
As excited as they are about their fast start to the series, the Red Sox maintained a business-like attitude.
"For me, personally, I'd like to keep swinging and I don't like to take a day off," said Youkilis. "This time of year, you go on full adrenaline. To me, you don't get tired. During the season, you might get a little tired or worn out, but I think today is a good day just to get up. And for a 12 [p.m. PT start] tomorrow, I think it's good just to get on the schedule here."
Or as Francona said, "You sleep in the winter."
With a win Sunday, the Red Sox would inflict an all-too-early winter for the Angels.
"This series is not over," said Lugo. "The Angels have a good team. We just can't lay back."
Instead of sitting back, the Red Sox seemed even more focused on keeping their foot pressed down on the accelerator.
"I think we just worry about each other and everyone going out there to do their job," said Youkilis. "What you have to do is worry about yourself and get yourself ready to play. If you get yourself ready to play, every guy goes out and gets themselves prepared to play the game and focuses on themselves and having good at-bats and playing the field. That's how you win ballgames. That's what makes great teams, when guys go out there and get themselves ready."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.