Red Sox will complete the comeback now

Boston Red SoxThe Boston Red Sox are going to the World Series. There’s just no doubt about it. And yes, this isn’t a misprint; they still need one more victory in Game 7 to officially close out the Tampa Bay Rays.

But after their 4-2 win in Game 6 and their dramatic come-from-behind win in Game 5, is there any doubt in anyone else’s mind that the BoSox are heading back to the World Series?

Boston has all the momentum and postseason experience to close the Rays out. Tampa has had two opportunities (none bigger than when they led 7-0 in the top of the seventh in Game 5) to put the nail in the coffin and they couldn’t do it. What makes anyone thing they’ll do it Sunday night against Jon Lester? What, because they absolutely hammered Lester in Game 3? Because Matt Garza has been the rock of the rotation outside of Scott Kazmir? None of that matters when your back is against the wall and you have to fight your way out of a hole. (And make no mistake about it – the Rays are in a hole. Even though the series is tied, they’ve lost all the momentum after their Game 5 loss.)

As a neutral fan, I’d love to see the Rays win. I’d rather see the club that built their team through the draft and farm system go to the WS than the one that bid over $51 million just to talk to a pitcher, than another $52 million just to sign him. Not that Boston doesn’t, but Tampa deserves to play for a championship after being the doormats in the AL East since their existence. But Boston did it to the Yankees, then again last year to the Indians and now they’ll do it against the Rays. They’ll complete their comeback and face the Philadelphia Phillies in this year’s Fall Classic. There’s no doubt about it.

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It’s all about the pitching

Jonathan Papelbon“Momentum is always as strong as your starting pitcher is the next day.”
– Joe Maddon

Leave it to the well-read Rays manger to come up with such a profound statement. Chances are this saying is nailed up in his teams’ clubhouse alongside others from the likes of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Maddon’s right, and he’s used this pitching-first philosophy to propel his team into the ALCS.

If there’s one quality that ties each of the remaining four teams together, it’s that each of them can hit. They each have at least two big bats, lead-off men that can hit for average, and a bottom of the order that can consistently do some damage. When teams are this evenly matched at the plate, it’s often a single blunder on the part of a pitcher that can decide a game. As we’ve seen in the Division Series between the Angels and Red Sox, it comes down to the pitching. Both teams boasted fabulous rotations and excellent hitting, but it was the Red Sox middle relief and closer that really won the games.

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