(photo courtesy of boston.com)
Here's your AL Rookie of the Year, getting it done in Game 7.
Congratulations to our beloved Red Sox, who can now call themselves Champions of the American League, 2007! What a great series this turned out to be, eh? To come back to Boston, down 3 games to 1, and then comeback to clinch it all, at home in front of 36,000+ of your friends. So, so sweet in so many ways.
Where to begin?
Beckett. Series MVP Josh Beckett is certainly making a name for himself in October. 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA this postseason so far. This award is well deserved. We HAD to have a win in Game 5, and he put it on his back and made it happen. Ex-girlfriends, flying tribe towels, tightened backs, none of this would deter his focus. He is our most valuable player, because without his unfaltered command, we might never have made it back to Boston.
Boston Offense at Home. Boston outscored the Tribe 30-5 in the last 3 games. The beauty of it, was that it wasn't our waiting for Manny and Papi. Others stepped up, just as was done all year long. Youkilis was HUGE, going into game 7 he was batting .478 for the ALCS, and by the time he hit that 2 run homer, he was batting an incredible .500. Papi finished .292. Manny, .409. After a slow start, Pedroia proved why he is deserving of AL's Rookie of the Year. His bat electrified games 6 and 7, finishing game 7 with 5 RBIs, which included a double and HR.
Schilling and Dice-K. Games 6 & 7 needed 2 starters who could offer good command. Schill exceeded my expectations, going 7 innings. And Dice-K, while lasting only 5 innings in game 7, only had 2 earned runs, and found himself able to get out of a tough 5th inning. It was a great improvement to his 4- 2/3 innings contribution in Game 3.
Cleveland left their bats back in Cleveland. Travis Hafner batted .148 and struck out 12 times. Grady Sizemore only went 3 for 17 in the last 5 games. Overall, the Indians hit only .176 with runners in scoring position, the last 3 games. Sabathia and Carmona stuggled BIG TIME during the ALCS. They combined for an 0-3 in 4 starts, with a combined ERA of 12.67.
Is the Cleveland 3rd base coach Joel Skinner currently on our payroll? Something tells me he may be sending out his resume during the off season, as his decision to hold Kenny Lofton at third base in the 5th was a disasterous mistake for the tribe. Franklin Gutierrez' single went over 3rd base, into foul territory and bounced into short left. To Skinner, it looked like it might bounce back torwards Lowell or Lugo. So he stopped Lofton in his tracks, as Manny jogged towards the ball. There is NO DOUBT IN MY MIND that Lofton would have been safe.
I must admit, it wasn't until Pedroia's double cleared the bases, that I finally relaxed last night. With the Indians this series, a 1 or 2 run lead seemed never enough. Both sides slowly chipped away, never backed down. Once Pedroia broke it open, then I knew the Championship was within our grasp. Must be the old Sox fan in me. It seems I am always waiting for the bad break to happen. Someone to drop a ball, or throw wildly, causing runs. Or a bad call by an ump, or something like that.
But this time, for once, one of those things DIDN'T happen. We took a lead, and kept it. And pitched our guts out, and crushed the ball.
Way to go, guys. Make sure you pack those winter hats for Game 3, fellas. It's been snowing in Colorado and we, once again need to be ready.