Here’s to another Red Sox league championship hero no one wants.
Three cheers for J.D. Drew, who muscled a key grand slam as the Boston Red sox clawed back against the Cleveland Indians to eventually win it all in 2007.
Three cheers for Shane Victorino, who didn’t want a piece of Justin Verlander and found Jose Veras just right. That grand slam kept the demon sire Verlander shackled inside the Tigers’ gates, to be unleashed in 2013 nevermore.
A postseason hero was born Saturday night.
Victorino’s grand slam almost makes it seem like the derision Boston got for signing him had never existed.
All along it was the right call.
With nothing but grit, just the right amount of core players and a whole lot of luck, these Red Sox advanced another rung of what began as low expectations.
The Tigers were supposed to return to the World Series after failing to win it last season. But a fair amount of timing, and luck, held them back.
Which shows how difficult it is to make it to the grandest stage in baseball two seasons in a row. Boston fielded a competitive lineup that would make them sniff .500, and by virtue of magic leap-frogged every American League team, each more favored than them.
No, it’s not really an underdog story.
Somewhere along the line, the narrative had switched.
The inexplicable gamble on Victorino, for example had borne fruit. Clay Buchholz had battled injuries for most of the season, and he hung around long enough against Scherzer.
In years past rooting for the Red Sox meant having the fear – of blowing leads tight and big, the shadow of failure always haunting the fan base’s collective paranoia.
Not with this team.
There’s a dash more 2007 in them more than 2004, but it’s getting real close to tipping the other way. The 2007 version after all were favored to win the World Series. These bearded lads, not so much.
That sheepsih skepticism is borne out of Detroit’s powerhouse team. Even a hurting Miguel Cabrera could vault an all-hands home run over the wall. Scherzer and Verlander were closing out against Buchholz and Lackey. The bullpen has been Detroit’s one weakness in the past. It has since been addressed. GM Dave Dombrowski didn’t just sit pat to enjoy what’s already a formidable lineup – he picked up Torii Hunter and made the team better.
Sometimes Pizza Money ain’t enough.
The series totally went off script, in ways even those who chose Boston couldn’t have imagined. For the most part, Detroit’s starting pitching was dominant, and shut down a Top 10 offense despite the hobbled play of Miguel Cabrera at third.
Maybe Boston is loaded with guys powered by the clutch gene. For all the talk of Boston’s revived pitching and young core of prospects, it was the free agents who mattered most.
GM Ben Cherington signed the two in a massive free agent outlay that responsibly fit holes within the roster. A wave of Napoli, Victorino, Ryan Dempster and Koji Ueharas later, there was a sense that the team is at least going to be a factor until June.
What looked then like shots of desperation turned into brilliant masterstrokes. Besides, Victorino and Napoli have three Fall Classic appearances between them.
If Schilling hangs on to the lead tonight, despite that bleeding ankle… a torn tendon… really no business being on a Major League mound here in October… if he wins this game tonight, they are going to be writing about this game for decades.