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Close the Book

Manny Ramirez's second home run of the night wasn't enough to topple the White Sox.
The 2005 season for the Boston Red Sox ended like no one thought it would originally: in a series sweep at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.

We lost to a better team. It's that simple. I thought we had a chance going into the series, but once we lost that huge lead in game two I think everyone's hopes were dashed. The chances of a comeback were slim, and it didn't help we were going against the best pitching team in the majors.

Tim Wakefield was just okay last night. He wasn't his spot-on self, but that was to be expected with less than stellar knuckleball conditions. He pitched into the sixth, but once he ran into trouble it became the bullpen's job. We saw our best relief pitching: Chad Bradford, Mike Myers, Jonathan Papelbon, and Mike Timlin. The only successful one, though, was Papelbon who pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, including stranding two men on in the sixth.

Our offense was better than it was the previous two games, but it still wasn't a typical Red Sox offense. Our three runs came from solo shots from the two men who carried the offense all year long, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Manny with two, Ortiz with one. There were multiple occasions when the bases were loaded and we couldn't drive any runs in. That just isn't acceptable anywhere - especially in the divisional series. 19 men were left on base last night. If we just had two or three hits in those situations, we would be talking about game four tonight. But we aren't.

I agree with everything Terry Francona did last night. He used his relievers when he should have, and he used Papelbon for the proper extent of time. Mike Timlin gave up a run, but there is nothing he could have done about it. Francona didn't lose this one. The offense did, in my opinion.

What's going to happen next season? I personally don't want to talk about it right now. There are a few key free agents though, and when the time comes, you'll hear my opinion on every single one of them; from Johnny Damon to Bill Mueller. There are also some big free agents that we may want to pursue, even the guy that helped beat us, Paul Konerko. Could he be wearing a Sox uniform of a different color next season? You never know.

The brightest spot of next season is our young players we have, ready to break out. Papelbon has already broken out, and we know he has a spot on the roster next year. We just don't know if it is in the starting rotation (please, please, please!) or in the bullpen (no, no, no!). Is Manny Delcarmen ready for the bigs? He'll need some retuning over the off-season, but if he may make the team out of spring training. How about flame-thrower Craig Hansen? I believe he'll need a few more weeks in the minors, but he is another arm that can possibly make the team right out of spring training.

Stay tuned. It's going to be one hell of an off-season.