Red Sox complete World Series sweep
October 29, 2007
DENVER ” They celebrated a mile up on major league baseball’s loftiest infield, sky high again, a repeat of that raucous night at old Busch Stadium in St. Louis a few years ago.
Boston is baseball’s bully, the example other teams seek to emulate. “Damn Red Sox,” anyone? Three years after they ended the Curse with their first title in 86 years, now the curse is on everyone else.
What a tale to tell. Those decades of frustration that left their faithful doubting if their day would ever come are distant memories, stored up in the attic with sepia-toned photos from the original Red Sox dynasty, which won five World Series titles from 1903-18.
On another night to remember back at Fenway Park, Faneuil Hall and all over New England, Boston became World Series champions for the second time in four years by beating the Colorado Rockies ” flattening them ” in a sweep that ended with a 4-3 victory Sunday night.
“Pretty darn heavy,” Jon Lester said after lifting the trophy that all of baseball had sought since pitchers and catchers reported to Florida and Arizona last February.
Lester was one of the stars, a 23-year-old who overcame cancer, returned to the Red Sox and won the World Series finale by pitching 5 2-3 scoreless innings in his first start since Sept. 26.
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There was Mike Lowell, the World Series MVP, who hit .400 with four RBIs, including a solo homer in the finale that pushed the lead to 3-0. There was baby-faced Jacoby Ellsbury, who led off the game with a double and scored the first run.
There was the old guard from 2004, Manny and Big Papi, Curt Schilling and Jason Varitek.
And there were new faces such as closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got the final five outs to preserve the slim lead, then threw his glove up so high it seemed as if a gusher had splashed it toward the heavens.
“It took all 25 of us to get the job done,” Papelbon said. “It’s just phenomenal.”
In the clubhouse, players wore blue goggles to keep the celebration spray out of their eyes. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who in Game 3 became the first Japanese pitcher with a Series win, bowed out on the field, celebrating with his own native style.
They came together from several corners of the world to represent a city that obsesses over its baseball like no other, and in a contest between Boston lobster and Colorado beef, the shellfish left the meat charred and scarred. Colorado, fourth in the NL West in mid-September, had a remarkable run of 21 wins in 22 games to reach the Series for the first time. But after an eight-day layoff, the Rockies were rusted and got routed.
With the second-highest average in Series history behind the 1960 New York Yankees, Boston outhit them .333 to .218, outscored them 29-10. Maybe any of the four American League playoff teams would have swept any NL champion. Sure seemed that way.
Colorado, in its 15th season, has not nearly the pedigree of Boston, which has been around for more than a century. Somehow, even though they failed to win a game, the Rockies seemed satisfied.
“No reason to hang our heads. We accomplished a lot this season,” Todd Helton said. “They outplayed us. We have no reason to be upset. We made the World Series. We did a lot this year. We came a long way.”
Boston was a loss from elimination when it trailed Cleveland 3-1 in the AL championship series, then finished with seven straight victories, a streak that dwarfs that of the Rockies’ in significance if not length.
Lester, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer at this time last year, handed a 2-0 lead over to his bullpen. Ellsbury scored in the first on Ortiz’s single, and Lowell doubled in the fifth ” one of 18 by the Red Sox ” and came around on Varitek’s single. Lowell’s homer off Aaron Cook, whose career was sidetracked a few years ago because of blood clots in his lungs, made it 3-0 in the seventh.
The towel-waving fans at Coors Field didn’t get down. They kept screaming, hoping the Red Sox rooters who brought brooms to the ballpark would be denied, at least for one day.
Brad Hawpe’s leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh got the Rockies a run, but Bobby Kielty made the most of his first appearance in this Series, connecting for a pinch-hit homer in the eighth against Brian Fuentes and raising both arms triumphantly. Garrett Atkins’ two-run shot off Hideki Okajima made it close in the bottom half and Boston brought on Papelbon, who pitched 10 2-3 scoreless innings over seven postseason appearances.
He got five straight outs for his third save of the Series, as automatic as Mariano Rivera was back when the Yankees ” remember them? ” won three in a row. And when it was over, Varitek ran to the mound, jumped into his arms and raised his right arm in jubilation.
“This team’s got a lot of heart,” Varitek said. “We worked really hard. We just beat a very, very good team, an excellent team. We had to do the little things.”
While the Yankees owned the 20th century, the Red Sox are the first team to win two titles in the 21st. In this era of parity, they are well on their way to becoming the team of the decade.
“It’s premature. It’s nonsense,” team president Larry Lucchino said in a corner of the clubhouse, trying to stay dry as his cell phone kept interrupting. “We’re the team of 2004 and 2007.”
Of the seven postseason series this year, five ended in sweeps. … Varitek is giving the ball from the final out to the Red Sox. Three years ago, Doug Mientkiewicz kept it for awhile, sparking a snit that ended when the team took him to court and he later agreed to give it to the Hall of Fame. … Boston’s Terry Francona is the first manager to start 8-0 in the Series.
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