The Boston Red Sox won the 12th American League pennant in team history, and the third in the last ten years, riding a Shane Victorino seventh inning grand slam, to a 5-2 victory. Here some thoughts from the afterglow.
* I know I have said this before here, but Shane Victorino is the toughest son of a bitch to ever play for the Red Sox. He has been injured nearly everywhere you can hurt practically all year and just keeps playing and at a championship level. In the field, on the bases, and at the plate Vic has excelled. And to think nearly everyone ( including myself) thought Ben Cherington severely overpaid for the outfielder ( some felt Ben was just plain nuts).
* Before the Victorino slam, it was beginning to feel it was not Boston's night. From the blast back in the third from Dustin Pedroia that missed the left field foul pole by about the width of the baseball turning the seemingly three run homer into a foul ball. In the same inning as Victorino's blast, Jonny Gomes shot a rocket that missed going into the monster seats for a tie by the same width of the baseball. But this group always seems to find a way.
* Clay Buchholz did not pitch the ace like game to single handedly push to the Sox to the World Series. But he pitched a good enough game to get to the bullpen with a lead. At this point in time, it looks like Buchholz can only be counted on for a five inning start in the World Series. But if those five innings only allow only a run or less, is not that perfectly acceptable?
* I may be the only person besides John Farrell who thought it was okay to bring in Franklin Morales to face Prince Fielder with two on and none out. It is always a crapshoot with Morales, he either blows hitters away or cannot throw a strike. Tonight was cannot throw a strike, even to the recently inept Fielder. After walking him I realize Farrell's preference was to keep the lefty in the game to make Victor Martinez hit righty instead of left handed where he is much more effective. But after seeing how badly Morales looked versus Prince, you gotta go get someone else right then. Brandon Workman, who got out of that inning without allowing anymore runs should have pitched to Martinez.
* Workman did get out of that inning with only the two runs let in by Morales, credit goes to Brandon for inducing a huge ground ball, but in reality Pedroia was able to cash in that grounder for a double play only due to stupid Tiger base running times two. Thank you to Martinez for running into Pedroia' tag and a big thank you to Prince Fielder for whatever to hell he was thinking in getting trapped between third and home.
* Xander Bogaerts. Jesus, what can you say. He has 11 post season plate appearances. He is 3 for 6 with 5 walks. All three hits are doubles, two of which just missed being home runs ( including the Game Six double which was still rising as it crashed into the monster in deep left center.) The only question about Xander's World Series playing time is how high in the batting order should John Farrell place him in.
* Poor Daniel Nava. After putting up one of the best offensive seasons of any AL outfielder this year, he seems destined to spend most if not all of the World Series on the bench. John Farrell seems determined to ride Jonny Gomes in the post season. The Sox are 6-0 with Gomes in the postseason starting lineup. Is that just a coincidence? Maybe...maybe not. But I bet Farrell keeps trying it.
* After a few quiet games early in the ALCS, Jacoby Ellsbury seems to be heating up again, driving in Bogaerts with the first run in Game Six. We could be ( likely are) entering the last few games of Ellsbury's Boston tenure, and not only can Ellsbury help bring the second world title in his time here, but he can earn many more millions as a free agent this winter with a big World Series.
*If the Tigers had a shortstop as good defensively as Stephen Drew they might have won this ALCS.
* The ALCS MVP was Koji Uehara. An excellent choice as Koji shut down the Tigers in the same manner as he had opponents all year. Nearly every pitch a strike and with next to no drama. The three days off before the World Series should be very beneficial in keeping Koji rested and effective.
* Sort of lost in the shuffle was another outstanding bullpen effort. This one by Craig Breslow. After Victorino turned the game and series around with his 7th inning slam into the Monster seats, Breslow came in and did EXACTLY what was needed: a shutdown 1-2-3 inning with no opportunity to breath any life back into the Tiger carcass. The only worry Sox fans admitted to and discussed endlessly going into October was the bullpen before Uehara. Their ERA (including Koji) in this series was 0.43.
Going into the World Series it is not a weakness it is a strength.
* Last winter Ben Cherington talked about building the"next great Red Sox team". Ben by his own recent admission was talking about a team down the road a bit anchored by Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and their raft of young pitching on the way. But that group may end up being the next,next great Bosox team because the 2013 version is certainly great in their own Boston Strong way.
* Looking forward to the fourth all time Series meeting with St. Louis. This year's team has at times been compared to the Impossible Dream 1967 Sox and at other times to the Idiots of 2004. Ironically, both of teams played St; Louis in the World Series. A loss in '67 and the curse busting sweep in '04. What will the Band of Bearded warriors bring to the table??