There were some tense moments as Joe Maddon managed his Rays pitching staff like he was playing a video game, but the Red Sox ultimately overcame a 1-0 deficit with two runs in the seventh inning and they added an insurance run in the ninth. In the end, it was a 3-1 win, followed by another goggle-and-champagne filled celebration. Jonny Gomes even brought his helmet.
Boston’s off to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2008 and the fifth in 11 seasons to play either Detroit or Oakland. That series is down to a win-or-go-home Game 5.
In the meantime, Maddon can decide if he's up for a return to lovely Boston.
Some parting thoughts on the Division Round…
- Admittedly, I wasn’t sold on the Jake Peavy trade for Jose Iglesias. Didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it all that much either. Peavy went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 starts for the Red Sox to finish the regular season, stats I’m convinced Brandon Workman or a cavalcade of fill-ins could have produced.
- Well, consider me converted.
- Peavy was acquired specifically for the pitching depth he could provide in the postseason and, last night, he did exactly what he was brought in to do and more. The former Cy Young winner allowed one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, throwing only 74 pitches before a second-guess-waiting-to-happen move was made to bring in Craig Breslow, and boy did that one pay off.
- Peavy was dominant, efficient, and kept the Sox within striking distance while the Rays were simultaneously using four of their nine hurlers. Once skeptical, fans and media members alike will be remarkably confident in him when he toes the rubber again for his next start. I’m even looking forward to it.
- Speaking of Breslow, wow. Scoreless ball over 1 2/3 innings, one hit, and four consecutive strikeouts. A real bulldog performance by the Yale grad, more than justifying Farrell’s decision to pull Peavy.
- The bullpen went 3 1/3 innings in all, surrendering the one hit to go along with seven strikeouts. Junichi Tazawa got a difficult out in Matt Joyce with a man on, and Koji Uehara was perfect against four batters. His home run allowed to end Game 3 is a distant memory.
- More impressive, in the four games – all of which featured Tazawa – Red Sox relievers gave up just two runs on seven hits and struck out 12 in 11 innings for a 1.64 ERA. It was the difference in the series.
- Farrell was met for a second time with the choice of whether to pinch-hit Xander Bogaerts for Stephen Drew against Jake McGee and, this time, his decision paid off. Bogaerts walked twice in as many plate appearances, but his first sparked the rally that eventually won the game.
- Drew went just 2-for-15 in the set, though he did drive in runs in each of the first two wins. Still, it’s a wonder if Bogaerts will get more attention or warrant more confidence in the next round. The odds are that Drew will start the series, but will a third straight 0’fer result in a benching?
- Shane Victorino must be made of iron – or, as someone on Twitter suggested, adamantium. He was hit by about 35 pitches in the series, yet was never slowed in the field or when he had to beat out an infield single to snap a seventh inning tie in Game 4. He also didn’t look too hampered when it came time for the mid-field mob celebration. A warrior who’s proven to be worth every penny.
- Jacoby Ellsbury scored a run and reached base twice. He went 9-for-18 in the series with seven runs scored, a pair driven in, two doubles, and a stolen base in each game. A line-up can live and die by its table-setters, and the Sox did so throughout most of the series. Enjoy every moment, fans, because he’ll be wearing a different uniform when he runs out to Fenway’s centerfield in 2014.
- One guy who will be back, however, is Daniel Nava. He hit just .200 in the series, but had a ridiculous on-base percentage of .429. Batting averages belong in museums these days.
- A reader suggested a new slogan for this beard-growing crew of 2013: “Amish Up!” A fitting tribute to the “Cowboy Up!” squad of a decade ago. Also, another few weeks of this and Mike Napoli will be tripping over his mane.
- Early impression: The West Coast Red Sox, err…A’s, are the better matchup for the Sox, given the Tigers’ elite pitching rotation. Either way, an inevitably tougher series is on the horizon. A more expansive preview when the opponent has been finalized. Until then, make sure those goggles are on tight. You've got some celebrating to do.
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About this blog
Adam Kaufman is a writer and broadcaster who can also be heard regularly on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the national CBS Sports Radio Network, and broadcasting Boston College hockey games. The Massachusetts native is a Syracuse grad and a pop culture fanatic who offers a unique and entertaining look at your favorite Boston sports teams. Please don't hold his love for Jean-Claude Van Damme movies against him.
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