Papelbon falters, Angels sweep Red Sox

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Mariano Rivera is the greatest of
all-time, but statistically speaking, there’s probably nobody else
you’d want on the mound with a lead in the postseason other than
Jonathan Papelbon. After all, he entered play on Sunday with 26
scoreless innings spanning 17 career postseason appearances, the most
in major league baseball history without allowing a run. Alas, his
streak came to an end on Sunday afternoon, as did the Red Sox season.




Papelbon inherited a jam from Billy
Wagner with two outs in the top of the eighth, and quickly served up a
two-run single to Juan Rivera, cutting the score to 5-4. Papelbon
managed to pick off pinch-runner Reggie Willits to kill a bit of the
momentum. The Red Sox even tacked on an extra insurance run in the
bottom of the eighth to give Pabelpon some extra breathing room heading
into the ninth. It wasn’t enough.




The Angels rallied for three runs on
three hits and an intentional walk, all with two outs in the top of the
ninth. The definitive blow — a two-run single to center by Vladimir
Guerrero — was set up by excellent at-bats by Chone Figgins and Bobby
Abreu. Before Sunday’s go-ahead hit, Guerrero had just one RBI in his previous 19 postseason games.




The Angels are now set to take on
the winner of the Yankees-Twins series on Friday night. As for
Papelbon, he needs to learn how to trust another pitch besides his
fastball.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.