Champagne showers continue! https://t.co/qCSyLjS2wq— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 9, 2013
"Silence of the cowbells."
The Red Sox extended their 2013 Redemption Tour with a 3-1 victory in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday in the same swashbuckling style they have exhibited all season.
They were the real Tampa Bay buccaneers on this night.
They stole, they ran, they played without fear the day after falling apart in Game 3. They and their fans were brazen, showing a confidence not seen since the Nuclear Winter and Bobby Valentine walked the plank.
Fenway South had fallen after five years of enemy occupation and was securely back in safe hands. Boston's pirate flag was waved in the stands and beneath the stadium after Boston's victory.
The Rays? Sink. Sank. Sunk.
Turns out Pittsburgh isn't the only city that has pirates in the playoffs.
Tuesday's post-game bacchanalia featured plenty of mayhem, boasting and celebratory alcohol. Beards were everywhere - even on the face of Jake Peavy. The only things missing were eye-patches [they did have goggles] and the requisite wenches, who were no doubt busy manning the pole somewhere on Dale Mabry Boulevard in Tampa.
The Bearded Boys of Spring, Summer and Fall have knocked off one milestone after another: 69 wins, a .500 finish, a playoff berth, the American League East, the best record in the American League, a playoff victory, playoff payback against the team that eliminated them in the 2008 ALCS and have tormented them in the A.L. East ever since, a berth in the 2013 ALCS.
Done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done and done.
The Improbable Dream continues: Detroit or Oakland?
At this point, who cares?
The ranking beard in the clubhouse and Boston's living link to the idiotic fall of 2004, David Ortiz, led the clubhouse mayhem as he and his shipmates continued to bathe in the success that has been seized by these marauders in 2013.
The S.S. Red Sox is four victories away from the World Series, steaming through the waters of the American League at full-power. Any Game 6 or 7 from here on out will be played at Fenway Park. Whatever aches, pains and ailments that may be lingering after defeating the Rays will have plenty of time to heal.
Healthy, rested and confident. Wouldn't want it any other way.
Full speed ahead.
Boston's pitching rotation will be reset with Jon Lester pitching Game 1 on Sunday on 328 days of rest. Ditto for John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Peavy. Each starter will have the luxury of operating with extended time off between starts. Boston outscored Tampa Bay 26-12 in the ALDS. The only rough water in Boston's rotation game with the home run Buchholz gave up to Evan Longoria in Game 3, which also featured a healthy number of Red Sox fans in attendance, and there's a debate as to whether or not Longoria should be given a free pass to first.
And if you were cheering for Lackey on Saturday, then you had to be bowing at the altar of Peavy last night.
Much deserved praise has been offered at the altar of Craig Breslow. He game into relieve Peavy Tuesday with two out, a run in and a runner on in the sixth. He just struck out the next four Rays he faced and ended up going 1.2 innings. Five gigantic outs. The 17 outs recorded by Peavy were fairly chunky in their own right, considering how he kept the game close while Boston's offense was stuck in drydock.
Tuesday night's 74-pitch, 5.2-inning outing, where Peavy allowed just five hits and one run, was precisely the reason why the Red Sox gave up Jose Iglesias in the deal that brought Peavy to Boston. Peavy's 2-0 complete-game shutout over the Dodgers a week after Boston was stricken with the "Curse of the Dempstino" was another pivotal Peavy moment this season. That night, Peavy gave the beleaguered Red Sox staff nine needed innings of masterful baseball, stopping the team that will likely be Boston's opponent in the World Series.
The move was pure baseball brilliance given the end result. We often give the managers too much credit/blame in the postseason for whatever happens. It's also the time of year that managers tend to both over-manage and inject themselves into games.
We saw on both sides of the field Tuesday. Eventually, Maddon ran out of pitchers, hitters and time. The Red Sox were just too good this time. They had too much depth, too much speed, too much pitching, just barely enough hitting and the grit and balls to stay fearless.
Managers tend to get too much of the blame when things go wrong. In the end, it's on the players, especially in the postseason. The biggest except to that rule was in 2003, when Pedro all but took himself out against the Yankees in Game 7.
The ending of Game 4 and the ALDS at Tropicana Field Tuesday was practically an anti-climax. Boston's 3-1 lead was safe on this night. Koji Uehara and the rest of the Red Sox had gotten all the "choke," "ninth-inning walk-off loss" and "bonehead managerial decisions" out of their system a night earlier.
Joe Maddon said he had to go "National League" to shift his lineup against Boston in Game 3. In Game 4, he went "International League," using nine pitchers, none more than two innings. Maddon was magnanimous in his post-game remarks, giving the Red Sox credit for their success without the usual qualifiers of being "out Fenwayed" or lamenting about how teams like the Red Sox only win because they outspend their opponents.
Perhaps he lost touch with Carl Crawford after he left Tampa Bay.
Funny, how it is when the Rays win, it's because of "never-say-die" baseball, hustle, great pitching and shrewd managerial moves. When they lose, it's because the other team has a larger payroll. Owner Stuart Sternberg trotted out that same argument after Game 4. Sternberg's net worth is $800 million. There's nothing preventing him from upping his team's payroll except Stuart Sternberg. Tampa Bay's market size in relation to Boston and New York has only improved since Sternberg bought the team in 2004 for $200 million. He knew what he was facing when it came to payroll. Deal with it.
Today, Tampa Bay's Rays and those cowbells are slipping below the waterline in Boston's wake.
Boston's ship is on course to play for the American League pennant.
And there's no land in sight.
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