Red Sox fans are used to seeing their team make a dramatic comeback in the American League Championship Series. They were down 3 games to 0 against the Yankees in 2004, and 3 games to 1 against the Indians in 2007.
Both of those teams overcame those deficits and went on to win the World Series. This year the team has a way different feel. Gone are Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell and Curt Schilling. Key cogs in those heroic comebacks. Ramirez and Lowell drove in 18 runs in the series against Cleveland; now one is in L.A. and the other faces season ending surgery on Monday.
The person that seems to be missed the most is Curt Schilling, and here is why. Jason Bay has played great taking over for Manny in left field. He hasn't protected David Ortiz at all, considering he has been batting fifth behind Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis has been playing great at third base on defense, and at the plate has been doing more than the injured Lowell has. Mark Kotsay has been hitting pretty well in Youk's place at first, and his defense has been stellar.
The problem is that the Red Sox two aces on the pitching staff, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, were both shelled in their outings in this series. The Red Sox don't have the luxury of sending out Curt Schilling this year, due to his shoulder injury and subsequent surgery on that shoulder that will keep him out until next year; if he doesn't retire. Curt Schilling has been one of the greatest post season pitchers of all time. In postseason play, Schilling is 11 and 2 with a 2.23 earned run average. He is 6 and 1 for the Red Sox, and that one loss came in the 2004 ALCS, right before his bloody sock performance in Game 6 in that series.
Schilling battled injuries last year and his regular season record was 9 and 8. In the ALCS against Cleveland he had a bad game 2. When the Sox needed him in game 6 to stay alive, he pitched 7 solid innings only giving up a pair of runs and won the game; forcing a game 7 that the Red Sox won.
Even with Beckett's postseason last year, and Lester's awesome start in the Division Series this year, Schilling is still the go to guy. With out him to pitch in a game 5, 6 or 7 the Red Sox don't seem to have the mentality to comeback this time, without him. This series started out so promising with winning game 1, and they should have won game 2. The way the Rays have stepped up and figured out Boston's pitching, it seems unlikely this series will head back to St. Petersburg.
In the end it isn't because of Lowell being hurt, or Manny being with the Dodgers. Remember Red Sox Nation, it is because Curt Schilling wasn't there to pick us up and put us on his back this time around. Maybe the Sox make another miracle comeback, and that would be the greatest thing to happen for Sox Nation. But this writer isn't getting his hopes up this year.