Second inning: Welcome to the plate, Alex Cora

October 03, 2008 - 3:22 pm
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The occasion was momentous for Alex Cora. The Red Sox starting shortstop had appeared in five prior postseason games for Boston without a single trip to the dish. Cora's run of non-hitting playoff games was the longest ever by a member of the Red Sox, but our man Gary (THE man, Gary) noted that Yankees immortal Clay Bellinger and Allan Lewis of the '72-'73 Athletics both went 11 games without a single postseason at-bat.  Against Angels starter Ervin Santana, Cora sent a grounder that Angels shortstop Erick Aybar booted for an error. Cora did not ask for the ball as a souvenir.  Despite the miscue, Santana still escaped unscathed...barely. He got Jacoby Ellsbury to hit into a fielder's choice grounder. Dustin Pedroia then ripped a Santana pitch deep into the left-field corner, but Angels outfielder Garret Anderson (seeing just fine with both eyes this year, thank you) hauled the ball in at the wall. Pedroia, in case you were wondering, has one career homer in 38 regular-season plate appearances at Angel Stadium. Safeco Field is Pedroia's foremost longball nemesis: he hasn't homered in 63 plate appearances in Seattle. David Ortiz concluded the inning by dribbling a broken-bat grounder to first. Ortiz admitted after Game 1 that he was surprised to see that the Angels look like they will pitch to him. After giving up the first-inning run, Daisuke Matsuzaka appears to be in a nice groove in the bottom of the second. He struck out Howie Kendrick on a nasty slider, and then blew a fastball by Angels catcher Jeff Mathis, further contributing to the legend of the Japanese Nolan Ryan. He finished the inning by getting "swing early and often" Erick Aybar--he of the 3.26 pitches per plate appearances, a mark that ranked 238th of 241 position players with at least 300 plate appearances--to fly weakly to right.  J.D. Drew made the running catch, and the Sox right-fielder has looked good in both the field and at the plate thus far.  Red Sox 4, Angels 1