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MLB Boston Red Sox

5 Players Who will Make or Break the Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series Hopes

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5 Players Who will Make or Break the Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series Hopes

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

I cannot remember a time when the two teams going into the Fall Classic were as evenly matched as the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals seem to be. The 2013 World Series has the makings of an instant classic even before it gets started. Any time teams are this evenly matched there will always be key players for each team. It seems that the Red Sox should have a slight advantage for a few reasons but mainly it will come down to the players.

Where would the Red Sox be if John Lackey hadn’t of pitched lights out during the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers? Would they have won if either of their two grand slams in the ALCS were hit in a different ballpark? Both advantages that led to these wins are going to be in play during the World Series as well but even with those and all disadvantages, there are key players that will make the difference.

These are the players that can win a game or lose it, those with the spotlight on them when the inning, the game or even the series can swing one way or the other. Each team has them but these five I will focus on are going to be the top five that can make the biggest difference for the Red Sox.

If these five guys do what they have done well so far in the Classic, the Red Sox will win. If they are unable to repeat their successes from the ALCS, the Sox will likely lose. Leave a comment if you agree or disagree with my choices.

David Miller is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @davidmillerrant, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

Related:

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World Series 2013: St. Louis Cardinals Possess Clear Rotation Advantage

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5 – Clay Buchholz

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It is inevitable that Clay Buchholz will face one of the St. Louis Cardinals good to awesome starting pitchers. His two starts in the ALCS went two different ways. Game two, only won by Boston because of a miraculous grand slam, saw him give up five runs in 5.2 innings. The clinching game six only saw him give up 2 runs in 5 innings. He needs to be able to keep the Red Sox in the game like he did in game 6 or his starts will likely swing towards the Cards.

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4 – Mike Napoli

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Napoli is one of those players that can hit any pitcher out of the ballpark at any time. He cranked one off of a dealing Justin Verlander in game three of the ALCS after all and won the game for the Red Sox. This guy is a critical part of an offense that has a ton of grinders and only a few big power hitters. Napoli is a stud and they need him to take the Cardinals’ big starters out of the yard to win this series.

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3 – David Ortiz

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Some players are just magnets for the spotlight and Ortiz is definitely one of them. There will be at least one or two situations during the World Series where Ortiz will have the chance to win a game or get out and lose it. What he does during those situations and how specifically he is used during the games played without the DH will be a huge part of this series.

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2 – Jon Lester

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Lester has a combined ERA of 2.33 for the 2013 Postseason and he is going to need those type games if the Red Sox are going to hang in and defeat the pitching rich Cardinals. He doesn’t have to be perfect thanks to the stellar Red Sox bullpen but he needs to hold the Cardinals to a low number of runs during his starts, likely to come against one of the Cards’ studs, or the series will be difficult to win.

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1 – Koji Uehara

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The fact that Uehara won the MVP of the ALCS speaks volumes as to how important he is. Not only is he critical because of his ability to pitch a Mariano Rivera-like ninth inning but he also has the capability to comfortably come into the game in the eighth inning and slam the door early with a 4 to 6 out save if need be. His ability to do this will come in critically handy. On the other hand if he is unable to deliver, the Red Sox have little chance. He is that valuable right now.