Is Tonight The Night?

Can you feel it? The Red Sox are one win away from winning the World Series. They took a commanding 3-0 series lead last night with a vintage performance from Pedro Martinez, who worked out of trouble the first couple innings to record seven shutout innings, giving up only three hits. Bob Hohler has a look at a season on the brink. Jeff Horrigan looks at Pedro spinning a gem in his first World Series appearance. Steven Krasner says that no one stood taller than Pedro last night. David Heuschkel looks at the Red Sox winning their seventh consecutive postseason game. David Borges says the Sox are on the cusp of history. Only Dennis and Callahan could be unhappy with how things are going at the moment. And they are. More on that later.

Dan Shaughnessy says the lunar eclipse scheduled for tonight couldn’t be more appropriate. He says the planets are truly aligned in the Red Sox favor. Bill Simmons looks at the impact a win tonight would have on the lives of millions. Tony Massarotti notes that in every situation, the roles seem to be reversed for the Red Sox now. Sean McAdam says one more win is merely a formality. Christopher Price looks at the Red Sox, one win away from hardball heaven. Steve Buckley says to put the champagne on ice and start thawing the Yaz Bread, it’s time. Jackie MacMullan wonders…how did this all happen? All right, I’ll say it…I actually enjoyed Jim Donaldson today. For once it seems, he does a decent job of putting things in perspective.

Pedro Martinez was magnificent last night. After wiggling out of early trouble, thanks to throws from Manny Ramirez (to the plate) and David Ortiz (to third), Pedro settled in and looked to be his old self. Howard Bryant says that Pedro’s vindication is now complete. Bill Reynolds writes that last night was the exclamation point on a stellar career with the Red Sox for Pedro. Gordon Edes has Curt Schilling saying that Pedro has a whole lot more career in him. Michael Silverman writes that Pedro proved that he still has dominance left in him. Jeff Jacobs says that you could tell what kind of performance was in store for Pedro last night merely by looking into his eyes. Art Davidson says the future isn’t really important right now, as Pedro has pitched the Sox to the brink of a championship.

Bob Ryan says it’s a little scary how easy this is all looking. At least he isn’t complaining about it. On WEEI Gerry Callahan talked about his “syndrome” that he has today because he wants more drama in the series, going so far as to say he’d like the Red Sox to lose a couple games and bring the series back to Boston. He did also complain about Francona taking Pedro out after seven innings…Jim Donaldson looks at the defense making plays for the Sox last night, leaving them one win away. Michael O’Connor looks at David Ortiz doing just fine at first base, thank you. Jack O’Connell writes about Ortiz and Manny being able to show off their arms last night. Michael Gee looks at Manny not only hitting the first inning home run, but also gunning down Larry Walker at the plate. Kraz’s Corner looks at Manny making the Cardinals pay for mistakes on both sites of the plate. O’Connell has more on Manny’s throw. As noted in the ProJo today, with a hit tonight, Manny could tie a postseason record for consecutive games with a hit. Manny has taken some heat for not hitting for much power in the postseason, but he’s been hitting. His homer last night places him second all time in postseason home runs.

Derek Lowe takes the mound tonight, hoping to be the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the ALDS, ALCS and now World Series. Sean McAdam notes the amazing turnaround Lowe has made in this postseason. David Heuschkel has Lowe declaring that he loves this time of year. Michael O’Connor says that Lowe has certainly rebounded from being banished to the bullpen to start the playoffs. Lenny Megliola looks at Lowe getting a chance to close out the series tonight. Kevin Paul Dupont notes that his contract is the furthest thing from Lowe’s mind at the moment. Steve Buckley writes that Lowe has certainly put himself in line for a big payday with his postseason performance. You have to admit, for a guy who takes a lot of heat around Boston for perhaps not being mentally tough during the season, a “mental reject” in his own words, Lowe has had some huge postseason moments over the past two years. His closeout of the A’s in last years ALDS with the bases loaded remains memorable.

Stephen Harris looks at Trot Nixon coming up with a big hit last night to drive in a run, after an embarrassing slip in the wet outfield earlier. Jim McCabe writes about Nixon’s big hit in the fourth inning. McCabe also writes about Nixon’s batting helmet. St. Louis native Bill Mueller has been a big story in this series, Nick Cafardo and Steve Conroy look at Mueller playing in front of his home town fans. Sean McAdam talks with former Sox player and Cardinals fan Brian Daubach.

Jackie MacMullan looks at Bronson Arroyo being prepared to go last night. Alex Speier says that Terry Francona doesn’t feel any pressure. Steve Britt says he was wrong for writing that the Red Sox 0-3 hole to the Yankees was a result of the organization’s loose rein on it’s players. Jim Donaldson looks at a determined Sox clubhouse. Tony Massarotti says Curt Schilling would be ready to go in a possible game six. Art Davidson has Ellis Burks vowing that there will no loss of focus for the Sox. Jon Couture says that St. Louis is a nice place. Kevin Gray looks at NH native Chris Carpenter frustrated at having to sit out. Cafardo talks with Dan Duquette about the Sox in the series.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but the Dennis and Callahan stuff is truly amazing to me. One woman called up and suggested it would be a good thing for the Red Sox to lose the next three games in tight fashion to set up a dramatic game seven at Fenway Sunday night. D&C agreed with her. After the Yankees series Callahan said that the World Series would be anticlimatic. Compared to the ALCS, that might be true, but if it’s going to be “anticlimatic” wouldn’t a dominating, four game sweep be satisfying? They also noted that Glenn and the Big Show boys left the game early, apparently disgusted over either their seats or something else. That’s crazy.

Hohler’s notebook looks at Ortiz handling himself well at first. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Keith Foulke again playing a role in the end of the game. The ProJo notebook looks at Suppan’s baserunning gaffe. Heuschkel’s notebook says the Red Sox will not be changing their approach tonight. Borges’ notebook looks at Manny’s night with his bat and arm.

Things are not so pleasant on the Cardinals side of things. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the stories from the midwest point of view. Karen Guregian reports on the Cardinal players ducking the media last night. John Powers looks at more squandered opportunities for the Redbirds. Jack O’Connell says that St. Louis has it’s own curse. Yawn. If I never hear the word “curse” again, used in any context, it will be too soon. Mark Blaudschun looks at the discouraged Cardinals locker room. Stephen Harris looks at tonight’s starter for the Cards, Jason Marquis, a rarity in that he is a pitcher who can hit a little. O’Connell has more on Marquis. Guregian’s notebook looks at Jeff Suppan’s slip-up on the bases. Powers’ notebook looks at the long odds facing the Cardinals. Jim Donaldson’s Cardinal’s notebook has more on Suppan.

Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider wonders who exactly, besides the Patriots and Eagles, constitute the “Iron” of the NFL. He also looks at the preparation of Bill Belichick, the progress of Stephen Neal and Ty Warren, and a peek at matchups for the Steelers game. Jonathan Comey says only the Patriots and Eagles are living up to their hype, and also has his NFL Power Rankings. Michael Parente ponders if the Steelers have what it takes to bring an end to the Patriots winning streak. Ron Borges says that anyone who doesn’t think Bill Cowher is a great NFL coach is smoking crack.

Shira Springer has the Celtics acknowledging that they need to get their heads together before the season opener next week. Mark Murphy has Paul Pierce neither confirming nor denying the alleged spitting incident in Ohio the other night. Murphy also looks at Jiri Welsch stepping in at starting point guard with Gary Payton out with a jammed thumb.

Ron Borges has an interesting Boxing Notes column, looking at ESPN trying to pick up more boxing coverage, in part because of the NHL lockout.

Fox has Red Sox/Cardinals Game 4 at 8:00.