BOSTON -- Those closest to
So now, with age and injuries threatening to steal his place in the game, with his contract about to expire and the Angels showing no desire to extend it, Guerrero is stubbornly hanging on to whatever he has left, unwilling to slip back to that Dominican farm. On a redemptive Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, against a pitcher who had never allowed a post-season run, Guerrero delivered what might be the most memorable hit of what should be a Hall of Fame career.
It was just a single, and for a man who has 407 home runs and swings for the fences even on sliders in the dirt, singles have never been the object. But given how Guerrero's legacy has been marred by postseason failure, both individual and collective, it was the most satisfying single he could imagine. His line drive to centerfield off Red Sox closer
After the game, when Guerrero was asked what pitch he hit, he gave an answer that summed up his 14 years in the major leagues: "I don't know," he said. "I just swung." Reluctant as ever to accept attention, Guerrero dedicated his heroics to former Angels' pitcher
Usually, when teams celebrate after the Division Series, it seems excessive. But in this case, it was meaningful, and not just because of Adenhart. Three times in the past five years, and each of the past two, the Angels lost to the Red Sox in the playoffs. The last time they were at Fenway Park in the postseason,
The Angels might not have thought so much about the past if the Red Sox had not constantly rubbed it in their faces. On Sunday, they trotted out
Twenty-three years later, one strike away finally means something else. The Angels were down to their last strike three times in the ninth, but Aybar guided a single to center,
The Angels had touched Papelbon the inning before, when
"Everybody's rooting for Vlad," said hitting coach
Even the postgame celebration seemed tailored to Guerrero, teammates making his case for Cooperstown and downing Dominican beer. "He's a Hall of Famer in my book," Hunter said. Of course, that does not mean Guerrero will be back with the Angels next season or that teams will be lining up to sign him. But it does mean he has another chance, in the ALCS, to show he's not finished.