Jason Bay had never played on a winning team before being traded to Boston in the July deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. So this whole idea of playing baseball in October is new to him.
"The last few years I've been home at this point," he said. "But I'm trying not to make too big a deal out of it. Try to make it as normal as possible."
And since hitting home runs is something Bay does -- he has averaged 29 homers over the last five seasons -- he succeeded in keeping things normal in his postseason debut Wednesday by blasting a long two-run home run off John Lackey in the sixth inning, starting the Red Sox on their way to a 4-1 victory over the Angels in Game 1 of the American League division series.
Bay, who struck out in his first two at-bats, said his playoff-tested teammates were of little use trying to calm whatever pregame jitters he had.
"I don't really know if there's anything that they can tell you," said Bay, who doubled in his final at-bat. "There's no magic thing to say 'Hey you need to do this' or 'You need to do that.' It's the same game."
He's hip to the pain
As Mike Lowell made his way from the Boston clubhouse to the first-base dugout Wednesday afternoon, a TV camera trailed closely, recording every move.
"Just don't limp," Red Sox Manager Terry Francona whispered in Lowell's ear, aware that his third baseman's injured leg has suddenly become the most talked-about hip in New England.
Lowell, a Gold Glove fielder and last fall's World Series MVP, has a torn labrum in his right hip that will require off-season surgery.
But doctors have told him he can't do much more damage to the area so Lowell intends to play as long as he can withstand the pain, which is sometimes searing.
"It feels better than last week," he said before batting practice.
Despite Francona's plea, Lowell appeared to be moving gingerly, striking out feebly in the fourth inning and barely making it out of the batter's box on a grounder to first two innings later en route to an 0-for-4 night.
"This really hurts, I'm sure," Francona said.
"What he's gone through and his willingness to play, he deserves a chance here. We're proud of his efforts."
By guaranteeing themselves at least a split in Anaheim with a Game 1 win, the Red Sox took some of the pressure off Josh Beckett, who remains questionable for Game 3 on Sunday in Boston.
Beckett, 6-2 with a 1.73 earned-run average in 10 postseason appearances, was scratched from the Game 1 start and hasn't pitched since a Sept. 22 loss to Cleveland because of a strained muscle in his right side, an injury that typically takes weeks to heal.
Beckett reportedly played catch for the second consecutive day Wednesday, but a bigger test will come this afternoon when he attempts to throw a bullpen session.
If Beckett is unable to go Sunday, the Red Sox will turn to either knuckleballer Tim Wakefield or veteran Paul Byrd.
Timlin passed over
One pitcher who won't be riding to Boston's rescue is veteran reliever Mike Timlin, who was left off the postseason roster in favor of third-string catcher David Ross.
Timlin, 42, was 4-4 with a career-high 5.66 ERA in 47 games this season.