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A year ago today, the Red Sox were sitting at home, still sulking over one of the worst seasons in franchise history, void of a manager, with their future unknown.
Today, they’re beaming off a 3-1 series defeat of one of the most dangerous teams in the American League, heading to the ALCS for the first time since 2008.
Connecticut native and Yale graduate Craig Breslow proved to be the hero on the mound for Boston, relieving starter Jake Peavy after giving up a run in the 6th. Breslow limited the damage and got out of the jam, then proceeded to strike out the side in the 7th.
Meanwhile, Boston displayed their will to win. Needing runs, manager John Farrell decided to pinch hit rookie Xander Bogaerts for Stephen Drew. The speedy Bogaerts drew a walk. Jacoby Ellsbury singled, advancing Boegarts to third. With Ellsbury stealing 2nd, a Rays wild pitch brought Boegarts in to tie the game. With two outs, Shane Victorino lived up to his “Flyin’ Hawaiian” nickname, hustling out an infield single to bring in the go-ahead run. Rebounding from giving up the Jose Lobaton walk-off in Game 4, Koji Uehara returned to his normal brilliance, earning the save.
They have their own Game 5 to focus on, but if I’m Detroit or Oakland, I need to be worried. Despite the minor slip up in Game 4, Boston is firing on all cylinders right now, and it’s going to take a team playing near perfect baseball to slow them down. Whoever advances, they’re running into a Red Sox team that was not only one of the best teams in the regular season, but one of the hottest teams in the playoffs.
They’ve displayed their offensive power; putting up 12 runs in Game 1 and lighting up David Price for seven in Game 2, including two homers for Papi (who was almost lost for the rest of the post-season, see below.) They’ve displayed their solid pitching; every starter has thrown into the 6th inning, and the bullpen didn’t give up a run in their three victories. They’ve displayed their grit; legging out infield singles, stealing bases, making great defensive plays, and getting out of jams. Boston has their stars, but each night is a team effort, everyone plays a role in the victory. This team is very reminiscent of, dare I say, the 2004 Red Sox.
Side note: David Ortiz, the face of the franchise, narrowly avoided serious injury prior to Game 5. While on the pitching mound, Ortiz was throwing BP to a young player in the Boston farm system, trying to work his way up to the big leagues. The young power hitter whipped a comeback line drive right at Ortiz, who couldn’t get out of the way in time. Luckily, Ortiz was able to shake off the injury. Good thing ice is readily available in the training room.
The Yankees and Red Sox have a reputation of playing not only some of the most intense games in baseball, but also some of the longest. Friday night, (and into Sunday morning), certainly did nothing to help that reputation.