Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Boston Red Sox Advance to the ALCS

Well, the curse is officially over for the Boston Red Sox; that is, the curse of Bobby Valentine. On Tuesday night, the Red Sox officially put the memories of the end of the Terry Franconia era (also known as the beer and chicken era) and the Bobby Valentine debacle to bed by finishing off the Tampa Bay Rays and advancing to the American League Championship Series. Game 1 will take place on Saturday at Fenway Park, either against the Detroit Tigers or the Oakland Athletics.

The whole series, much like the entire season, was a team effort with role players performing big in the clutch. Offensively, the key to the series for the Red Sox and Manager John Farrell all started at the top of the lineup with Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino who could not be kept off the base paths and combined to score 9 times in the 4 game series. For much of the series, the Red Sox basically beat the Rays at their own game by small balling them to death with speed and gritty at-bats. However, when needed, the Sox lineup still had the patience and power needed to lift them past their American League East rivals.

 The pitching staff continued its uplifting 2013 season with strong performances from Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Bucholtz, and newcomer Jake Peavy. The bullpen did its job for the most part holding onto leads and limiting the chances for the Rays to make any serious comebacks. The staff continued rolling from its regular season turnaround that saw the group as a whole take its 2012 ERA of 4.70 all the way down to 3.79; numbers that you just do not see these days, especially in the power hungry AL East. It was a fitting way for the series to end behind Jake Peavy, who had been part of a midseason trade to bolster the back half of the rotation and was as much of a question as this team entering the 2013 season.


The series itself really highlighted the changed team the Boston Red Sox have become under Manager John Farrell. Two years ago, this team was drowning in controversy after a late-season collapse that came down to the final night amidst the rumors of drinking in the clubhouse. As a result, Terry Franconia was fired and in came Bobby Valentine, who may have actually been worse. His demeanor and managerial style simply did not work in Boston and the press had a field day with him. Enter John Farrell, stage left, and hocus pocus the Red Sox went from worst to first in one season. The former pitching coach seemed to find a way to get the group playing as a team again rather than as individuals, and the results speak for themselves. What will happen from here is unknown, but one thing is for sure. The 2013 Boston Red Sox feel like a team that enjoys playing well together and are now on a mission to continue to prove the doubters wrong.



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