The Red Sox magical run as World Champions is over. The Sox lost game seven of the American League Championship (ALCS) Series 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays will go on to play the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.
The game was a good one, but after a first inning home run by Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox offense never showed up. It was a game of pitching, and Matt Garza was on his game. Jon Lester pitched very well himself, but as Pedro Martinez said in 2004, he could only pitch. If the offense didn't produce, he could not win.
There are many reasons why the Red Sox did not produce like many thought they would. Lowell was hurt and did not play much, and when he did, he did not do anything. A healthy Lowell may have been what the offense needed to get going. Also, Beckett was probably hurting the whole postseason. Although he won game six, he may have lost the ALCS in game two.
David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, and Jason Varitek didn't hit well, even though they did have their moments.
Luck played its part as well. For Example, Mark Kotsay hit the ball hard the whole postseason, but it always seemed to be right at someone.
The offense was just not as explosive as it was last year. You can talk about the Manny Ramirez trade, but Jason Bay played pretty well himself. Besides, Manny was not going to do for the Red Sox what he did in Los Angeles.
These are all possible reasons for the Sox fall, but I think it comes down to the Rays being a better, healthier team. The Red Sox may have had the mentality they needed, but the Rays produced whenever they got a chance, and that kind of play wins championships. They will have to play just as well as they did against the Red Sox if they want to beat the Phillies in the World Series.
The team does not see the season as a failure. They see it as a success. Sean Casey said that if they hadn't made the playoffs, then the season would have been for nothing. They fought hard the whole year and throughout the playoffs. Many Sox fans were glad that they at least came back to get to game seven.
The Sox gave themselves a chance. The game five comeback was a particularly nice touch. They never gave up and sometimes that is the most important thing.
The Red Sox will go home now, but not to get ready for another game. This time they go home for the winter. The team cleaned out their lockers Monday. For some players, it may be the last time as a Red Sox and for others maybe the last time period.
Curt Schilling was already out for the season, but he may not pitch again. He will have to see how well he recovers. But even then, he will probably not be back in Boston. He will always be a Boston hero.
Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin were not as good this year and could retire as well. Wakefield's back caused him trouble all season. Being a knuckle-baller, there is still a good possibility that he will pitch in Boston next year, but we will have to wait and see.
Timlin has lost his velocity, making him very hittable. He was more of a clubhouse presence than a pitcher this year. If he doesn't retire, he may not be in a Red Sox uniform next season.
Also, Paul Byrd, Mark Kotsay, Sean Casey, and Alex Cora will be free agents. Byrd and Kotsay will probably move on. The Red Sox have plenty of minor league pitching depth with Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson. Kotsay will find a starting job somewhere.
Casey and Cora said that they would like to stay in Boston. Cora may have a problem with Jed Lowrie and Julio Lugo likely to be on the roster next year. Although Lugo could be traded.
It will be sad to see some of these guys go, but it happens every year. Guys leave, and new guys are brought in. There will be some guys out there that the Sox may go after. The biggest name is Jake Peavy, but the Padres will have a high asking price. Derek Lowe has also expressed interest in returning to the east coast. The winter should prove to be an interesting one for the Red Sox.
Hopes will be high for next season. Expect them to be right back in the race for the pennant, even though the competition will be tighter. The Red Sox will find a way to win. They always do.