10/06/08 3:10 AM ET
Sting of streak over
Angels knew they'd play better -- especially at Fenway
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
That was the hot topic among Red Sox fans all day Saturday and throughout much of Sunday. In the newspapers. On sport-talk radio. On TV.
Heading into Game 3 of its American League Division Series, Boston had beaten the Angels in 11 consecutive playoff games, an all-time record. By extending The Streak to 12, the Red Sox could send the AL's best regular-season team packing for the West Coast and a long winter of wondering what the heck happened.
Yet when presented with that scenario before Sunday's game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia waved off The Streak like so many flies.
"First of all, we're not getting eliminated tonight," Scioscia said. "So I'm not going to answer that question."
Scioscia was right, and after the pressure in the series shifted ever-so-slightly to Boston's side after the Angels stopped The Streak with a thrilling 5-4 victory in 12 tense innings, the Red Sox find themselves facing a far more relevant and timely streak that's still intact.
The 2008 Angels have beaten the 2008 Red Sox six times in a row at Fenway Park.
"Hey, I like that way of thinking," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "That's [a streak] I can get into."
Much like the Halos harrumphed when asked about Boston's playoff domination -- The Streak -- while in Anaheim, the Red Sox recoiled at the notion that another team might have their number in what Beantown likes to call "America's Most Beloved Ballpark."
"I said before the series started, you have to throw everything out the window once the playoffs start," first baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "It's not about what happened three years ago or last year or even yesterday. It's about today."
Sox's streak snapped
Literally. Game 3 ended at 12:48 a.m. ET Monday. Game 4, which features a rematch between Game 1 starters John Lackey and Jon Lester, was set to start at 8:37 p.m. Monday.
When today was Sunday, of course, the Angels played like there was no tomorrow. And there wasn't. A loss and they were gone, with 100 regular-season victories of almost zero consolation.
They refused to cop to a lack of confidence, however, and first baseman Mark Teixeira admitted that the team's recent success in Boston didn't hurt.
"It's just one of those 'feel' things," he said. "If you've hit well against a certain pitcher in the past, you feel good as an individual when you see him the next time. And it's the same for a team. If you've won some games in another team's place, you feel good going in there."
"We felt we were going to play better tonight, and we did. If we keep playing well, we'll be fine," Scioscia said. "We're loose. We wanted to bring the team you saw during the summer onto the field."
Wins Nos. 3, 4 and 5 of The Other Streak came in the heart of the summer, when the Angels swept a three-game series here July 28-30, by a combined score of 22-9.
"We're a very confident team," said Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, who provided the game-winning RBI on Sunday with a soft single to center field in the top of the 12th. "We knew that if we stuck together [after the losses in Anaheim] we could make it positive for us."
"I think the confidence level has got to be high right now," Lackey said. "We've got to be excited about going again tomorrow."
The Red Sox said they are, too. The general consensus: streaks, like records and brittle bones, are made to be broken.
"Not that I think much about streaks like this at all; they're more for the media to focus on than anything," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "But I guess they ended ours tonight, so we need to turn right around and end theirs."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.