The Boston Red Sox are going to the World Series! Back when the season started in April, how many people thought that would happen? Not me. I was just hoping for a competitive season. During that first game in New York though, we saw that this team had the potential to be special. Lester looked like the Lester of old. Down 0-2 with two runners on Jackie Bradley Junior battled to earn a walk from CC Sabathia and then there was Jonny Gomes hustling around the bases and scoring from second on a Jacoby Ellsbury infield single. That’s how it all began and now six months later the never-say-quit Red Sox are heading to the Fall Classic.
Even after 2004 and 2007, I still expect something bad to happen. I guess it’s because my first memories of being a Sox fan are from 1978, the year the team blew a 14.5 game lead and lost to the Yankees in a one-game playoff on weak fly ball to left that somehow made it over the wall. Maybe it was 1986 that did me in. I saw the graphic on the TV showing my favorite Sox pitcher of the year Bruce Hurst being selected as the World Series MVP, and then there was that roller to Buckner. Or maybe it was 2003, when Pedro, my favorite Red Sox pitcher of all time, gave all he had to give and then Grady asked him to give more.
So in Game Six of the ALCS when I saw Franklin Morales warming up in the bullpen, I knew it was not going to be good. I was certain his inability to throw strikes would cause a disaster. Luckily, Brandon Workman, Dustin Pedroia and Prince Fielder helped to mitigate the damage. But wow, the decision to bring Morales into the game could have been one that haunted Farrell for years to come. I still don’t understand why he went to Morales. Why not Breslow? Why not Dubront, who, I think, is a very good pitcher and on most teams would probably have started one of the playoff games. Morales is the mop up guy, right?
I’m glad it worked out because Farrell has done an outstanding job. His loyalty to his players has paid off over and over again. Last night is a perfect example. Stephen Drew, who cares that his bat looks like a wet noodle? Cabrera’s ground ball looked like an RBI hit to centerfield and then there was Drew diving and getting up and throwing him out. Inning over. Momentum shifted.
I’m guessing it’s hard for Farrell to bench Nava in favor of Gomes, but you have to have Gomes in the line up, right? He makes things happen. In Game 6, he was the Grand Rally Starter on a ball that was mere inches from going out. Then the rookie shortstop, who’s forced to play third place because of Farrell’s loyalty to Drew, draws his second walk of the night. An error later, the bases are loaded for Shane Victorino, whose bat has looked as bad as Drew’s. Victorino botched a bunt earlier and Mr. 300 hitter Nava is on the bench. Farrell sticks with Shane and boom! The Sox go ahead for good. It was fun. It was exciting. It was nail-biting.
Poor Max Scherzer. He pitched brilliantly in Game 2 and Game 6 only to watch the bullpen blow it both times on grand slams! Crazy. Even crazier, in both of those games, the defensive phenom who was traded from Boston to Detroit made crucial errors that helped the Red Sox win. Thanks Iggy. Maybe the Sox will reward you with a larger playoff share now.