Masters of the ALCS: It seems like 2004 all over again now that Boston has completed another improbable ALCS comeback. Down 3-1 to Cleveland, they crushed the Indians three straight times to reach the World Series. Boston was nearly untouchable as the series went on; in Game 7, there was little doubt they would win even when the game was close. Down by one in the 7th, the Indians has men on first and third with one out. Then Casey Blake grounded into a double play to end the inning, and the Red Sox scored a combined 8 runs the next two innings. Rafael Betancourt, who previously hadn’t allowed a run this postseason, was lit up for 7 runs. The Red Sox bullpen, which got two scoreless innings each from Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon, was nearly perfect by comparison.
Overall, this series seems similar to the Red Sox-Yankees ALCS in 2004, but there’s a major exception. While the games were all close as the Red Sox came back in the previous series, they blew the Indians out three times in a row, leaving the impression that they are clearly the best team. None of the games were even in doubt, as the Red Sox won the last three by a combined 30-5. They have been perfect in all phases of the game recently, with a balanced offense and dominant bullpen. Players like Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedrioa have played huge roles in the comeback, while the pen pitched seven scoreless innings in the final three games. Their starters excellent as well, with Josh Beckett taking home the ALCS MVP. Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka redeemed themselves for poor starts earlier in the series by winning the last two games. Going into the series against the Rockies, the Red Sox seem like the clear favorite, but Colorado is well-rested and still on a roll. This World Series should be an interesting one, as it pits the preseason favorite against the one-in-a-million contender.