Red Sox crowned World Champions
By Hunter Jameson
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
One year ago, Boston finished dead last in the American League East with a record of 69-93, one of the worst in all of the AL. After hiring a new manager, finding young talent to implement into the system, and rejuvenating the Boston fans, what resulted was a World Series Championship just 365 days later.
The Boston Red Sox were crowned as World Series Champions last Wednesday with their 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. They won the series four games to two. The city of Boston was on cloud nine, as the Red Sox had not clinched the World Series title in Boston since 1918. This means a great deal to people of Boston, especially after enduring the horrific events at the Boston Marathon just last spring. This marks the third championship since 2003 for the Red Sox, the most of any team in baseball in the past decade.
The Red Sox found themselves atop the AL East division since the beginning of June and never looked back. Despite the lack of big name players in their starting lineup, the Red Sox were able to succeed in the pitching, hitting and defensive aspects of baseball. Their starting lineup on Opening Day was:
There is one piece of the puzzle missing from the first Red Sox lineup card of the season, Designated Hitter David Ortiz. Without Ortiz in the playoffs, Boston might be in mourning right now after coming up short in the playoffs. The World Series MVP battled injuries throughout the year but came up big when it mattered most, hence his nickname of Big Papi. When taking a look at the lineup in the Red Sox final game of the season, game six of the World Series, there are some major changes compared to Opening Day:
When it mattered most, first-year manager Jon Farrell had four differences on his lineup card compared to Opening Day. Cody Ross was at catcher, Stephen Drew at Shortstop, Xander Bogaerts at Third base, and David Ortiz at Designated Hitter. The biggest shock of the changes is the young phenom Bogaerts at third. Bogaerts is just 21 years old who came to the United States from Aruba to play Major League Baseball and won the World Series in just his first season. He was called up late in the season and earned the trust of his teammates and coaches, enough to earn a starting spot in the most important game of the entire season.
The Red Sox finished the regular season leading almost every offensive team category in all of baseball: first in runs scored (853), second in batting average (.277), first in on base percentage (.349) and first in slugging percentage (.446). The Boston pitching staff was their Achilles Heel in 2012, but in 2013 they were able to find the perfect combinations for wins, even if it took seven pitchers to do so. The starting rotation for the Red Sox was as follows: Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront.
Toward the end of the season, Closer Koji Uehara came up clutch in many situations and helped get crucial victories down the stretch. He was one of the new, young additions to the pitching staff that ended up paying off for the coaches who made that decision. Uehara finished with 21 saves and 101 strikeouts in 74.1 innings pitched. In the playoffs, he did not give up a run in 13.1 innings.
Coming into the series, the Red Sox were definitely the favorite because of how they had finished the series against the Detroit Tigers. David Ortiz’s eighth-inning grand slam in game two of the ALCS to tie the game was a sign that this might be the Red Sox’s year.
The heavy hitters of both teams, David Ortiz for the Red Sox and Matt Holliday for the Cardinals, had a heavy burden on their shoulders with each plate appearance. Ortiz and Holliday were able to contribute in clutch moments for their respective teams, on the highest stage of baseball. Both were very hot coming into the series, but Ortiz edged Holliday when it mattered most (I think we should briefly mention how Holliday did after we bring him up.
The Cardinals got out to a 2-1 series lead, but the Red Sox charged back with two wins in St. Louis to go up 3-2 heading back to Boston. The pitching matchup for game six was 22 year-old Michael Wacha for St Louis versus 35 year-old John Lackey for Boston. With a sold out Fenway crowd in attendance, the Red Sox had a huge advantage and capitalized. Boston took a 6-0 lead after four innings and never looked back, completing the World Series championship with a 6-1 win.
Ortiz simply could not be stopped during the playoffs, but especially during the World Series. He erased any doubt of whether or not he is Hall-of-Fame worthy with this postseason performance. Ortiz was making contact with pitches that most humans are not even capable of catching. Nothing could stop him, shown by his .688 batting average in six games against the Cardinals. He finished the postseason with 5 home runs, 13 runs batted in, 18 hits, and 12 runs scored. When combining these statistics with his regular season stats, he finished 2013 with 35 home runs and 116 RBIs.