Ninety-two pitches epitomized a player, a team, a coaching staff and most importantly a World Series sweep.
Jon Lester's start tonight may be the story of the year. Lester, who came back this season after being diagnosed with Lymphoma, spun a gem to win game four of the 2007 World Series. His 92 pitches resulted in him lasting 5.2 innings, allowing three hits, three walks, no runs and struck out three.
Lester went from his potential death bed to clinching a World Series championship in less than a year. He went from a lack of mental and physical strength to pitching to his full potential in the biggest game of his life. Lester was brilliant.
With this performance, Lester guaranteed himself a spot in the 2008 pitching rotation. There is no way Terry Francona can, or would, deny Lester a spot after being as extremely valuable as he was tonight. Slot him in now as the number five starter -- at least.
The Rockies and their fans never quit, either. Even in the 9th inning with three outs to go, the Rockies' fans were into the game and still holding on to the possibility their team could pull off the upset. It really surprised me, but it showed me how great of a fan base they've become. This team is going to continue to be strong and they'll continue to be the best in the National League as long as those fans keep their spirit. The World Series didn't go their way, but the Rockies and their fans have a lot to be a proud of. I hope the fan base isn't just a flash in a plan and continues to stay strong.
Four wins, four great starts by Red Sox starting pitchers. However, the bullpen really struggled at times. Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, and Javier Lopez got hit but if the Sox's offense wasn't as in-tune as it was, I don't think the Sox would have swept.
Yeah, I left a name out: Jonathan Papelbon. That's because he was amazing in the post-season and the World Series. In 10.2 innings of work, Papelbon allowed no runs and struck out seven, including the final out of tonight's game. Papelbon was fearless and worked his ass off. He pitched three really tough games against Colorado (all 1.1 innings, except tonight's 1.2 inning outing) and he didn't crack. He proved tonight why he's the best closer in baseball and no one should question that.
After Jason Varitek jumped into Papelbon's arms when the final strike hit his mitt, I just had to kind of laugh. Remember the last time Varitek leaped into a pitcher's arms during the playoffs? It was 2004 and our then favorite closer, Keith Foulke. How times change, right?
Let's give a round of applause to the rookies at the top of the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury was a sparkplug in the World Series and created a ton of runs. Ellsbury finished the series with a .438 batting average. Dustin Pedroia batted in the two-spot, and although he went hitless tonight, his post-season since being down 3-1 to the Indians in the ALCS has been powerful. Pedroia and Ellsbury both have played strong defense and rejuvenated a struggling lineup at the top. These two are the future of the Boston Red Sox.
Where would the Sox be without the offense that worked slicker than "the grease from a BBQ brisket?" The offense was electric, but do you know why the Rockies never made a truly valiant comeback? Because the Sox' offense wouldn't allow them to keep momentum for more than a half inning. All the runs the Rockies scored in the Series were immediately combated with another outburst from the Sox. From the beginning of time, it's proven to be true year in and year out: without momentum, you can not win. The Sox were able to strip the Rockies of their momentum as soon as they got it.
I haven't even mentioned the World Series Most Valuable Player Mike Lowell, yet. What can I say about Lowell that hasn't already been said? He is a model baseball player and a model man. Even with the odds against him for most of his career, he has battled every single season. If you ask any Red Sox fan who the MVP of the Red Sox was this season, they'd say Lowell. He may not win a league MVP, but he certainly deserved the crown handed to him tonight. There is no better man in baseball than Mike Lowell.
From Lowell to Lester, Ellsbury to Pedroia, and Varitek to Papelbon, the Boston Red Sox pulled together contributions from their very best and their very surprising (thanks, Bobby Kielty!) to win their second World Series trophy in four season.
There's still one thing left to do, though: defend that trophy.
Is everyone ready for 2008?