The Boston Red Sox were finally able to eliminate the divisional rival Tampa Bay Rays in the Division Series. The Red Sox are now heading to the ALCS for the first time since 2008. It is safe to assume that hardly anyone at the beginning of the season would have picked Boston to be heading deep into the postseason. So what did Boston do right against such a good club?
First of all, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino were absolute menaces at the top of the order and performed their roles perfectly as catalysts. I reckon Joe Maddon is going to be seeing those two guys in his sleep. Ellsbury batted .500 and Victorino batted .429.
Between the two of them, they stole five bases and caused all sorts of havoc on the basepaths. Their speed was an element of their attack that Tampa Bay really had no way to prepare for.
The offense right down the lineup seemed to get timely hits when it mattered. Nine different players on the roster had one run batted in or more. It was a very balanced, spread out attack which shows that they don’t rely on just one superstar who could be intentionally walked, or puts them in a bind when their bat suddenly grows cold. They play like a team where everyone contributes.
The bullpen was absolutely dominating, outside of that one nasty Game 4 home run. Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara were for absolutely on lockdown the most part and they really showed the ability to shorten a game.
If they gave out an MVP for the Division Series, Breslow would have had to be in consideration for his performance in this series. A bullpen that is clicking on all cylinders can be deadly to the opposing team in a short series.
Finally, the starting pitching was quality, particularly Jon Lester and Jake Peavy. They didn’t allow the Rays back into the game, and they got Boston deep enough where the bullpen could do the rest of the work.
I am glad this series is over, because the thought of facing David Price in Game 5 on a mission to prove something didn’t seem too promising. However, that is thankfully a moot point now. I am going to paraphrase from the famous rapper and mogul Jay Z: if your team is having problems, I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems but the Rays ain’t one.
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