Overwhelming in every way, the Red Sox swept to their second World Series title in four years Sunday night. Jon Lester, Mike Lowell & Co. left little room for drama with a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies in Game 4.
Then again, no NL team could have blocked Boston this October.
This was hardly a repeat from 2004, when the Red Sox ended their 86-year championship drought by beating St. Louis. Boston is a major league bully these days, playing in rarefied air before crowds who demand to win.
"It doesn't get old," manager Terry Francona said.
Gone are those pleading, pathetic days when the Red Sox were practically begging to win a title. They've got this down pat now.
At this rate, New England fans might get spoiled. Francona's team has become a perfect counterpart to coach Bill Belichick's bruisers on the Patriots.
After trailing Cleveland 3-1 in the AL championship series, the Red Sox won seven straight games and won their seventh World Series crown.
The wild-card Rockies, who won a remarkable 21 of 22 games to get this far, were a mere afterthought by the end. Brad Hawpe homered in the seventh inning and Garrett Atkins hit a two-run shot in the eighth that came too late.
"At the end of the day, you look back on the game. How did you execute?" Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "They executed better than us all four games."
Lester, undergoing chemotherapy at this time last year for cancer, pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning and Jonathan Papelbon closed with his third save of the Series.
Lowell won the MVP award, though Boston had plenty of candidates. Especially in a year in which Japanese stars Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima helped put the world in World Series.
"It took all 25 of us to get the job done," Papelbon said. "It's just phenomenal."
Lowell led a team that hit .333 in the Series with a home run, double and headfirst slide to score a run Sunday. He also won a ring in 2003 with underdog Florida.
"A little different," he said. "I think with the Marlins no one expected us to do this and I think with the Red Sox people expect you to win and I think both are very satisfying."
Rookie Jacoby Ellsbury got it started with a leadoff double and, even without big contributions from sluggers Manny Ramirez and Ortiz, Boston was too good. Bobby Kielty made the most of his first appearance in this Series, connecting for a pinch-hit home run in the eighth.
Coors Field was filled with Red Sox fans, many of them brazenly waving brooms they might have brought from the Green Monster seats at Fenway Park.
The celebrations started early, with converted DH Ortiz raising his hand after a nice scoop at first base, and Lester pumping his fist after a key strikeout.
Of the seven postseason series this year, five ended in sweeps. The Rockies' last chance to avoid it came in the ninth, when Jamey Carroll flied out to the wall for the second out in the ninth.
By the ninth inning, only one mystery really remained: What would happen to the ball from the final out? Remember, it took all sorts of gyrations after Boston's most recent title before Doug Mientkiewicz donated his souvenir to the Hall of Fame.
This time, Jason Varitek caught the final pitch and tucked it in his back pocket as Papelbon threw his glove high in the air after striking out pinch-hitter Seth Smith. The Red Sox spilled out of the dugout to party between the mound and first.
"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."
Rockies fans spent part of the night trying to outshout hundreds of Red Sox rooters
-- Boston folks apparently figured how to cut through Colorado's online ticket mix-up.
The crowd in purple hollered louder, but that's the only matchup Colorado won this week.
In every other phase, Boston was better.
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Ace Josh Beckett dominated in Game 1, relievers Papelbon and Okajima closed out Game 2 and rookies Dustin Pedroia, Ellsbury and Matsuzaka starred in Game 3.
When the Red Sox won in 2004, it represented a catharsis for fans all over New England. Many had wondered whether they'd live to see a championship
-- in fact, as fall turned to winter, tombstones showed up from Bangor to Brattleboro with references to the title.
Then, even bit players like Dave Roberts became household names to anyone wearing the fancy Boston "B." Backups such as Pokey Reese joined Paul Revere and Plymouth Rock in local lore.
Now, expectations are a lot different. Instead of "Wait till next year," it's "Next year, too!"
They've found a way to turn the World Series into a matter-of-fact affair. Way different than the ALCS, where they overcame a 3-0 hole against the Yankees in 2004 and the 3-1 deficit this year.
While Curt Schilling and Lowell can become free agents, the Red Sox enjoy a bright future. They didn't have room on the postseason roster for Clay Buchholz, the rookie who pitched a no-hitter last month.
Lowell, the steady third baseman, hit .400 (6-for-15), scored six runs and drove in four. The thousands of Red Sox fans who gathered behind their dugout after the game chanted, "Re-sign Lowell!"
Right from the get-go, it was Boston's night.
Ellsbury, who began the year merely hoping for a promotion to Triple-A, sliced the second pitch 3 feet inside the left-field line for a double. He alertly advanced on a grounder and scored when Ortiz barely bounced a single through the drawn-in infield.
As if the Red Sox needed any more early omens, Ortiz flashed a fancy glove in the second. A lumbering DH by trade, he neatly scooped up shortstop Julio Lugo's one-hop throw.
Lowell hit a leadoff double in the fifth and made a headfirst dive to score on Varitek's single off Aaron Cook. That made it 2-0 and, for the time being, left every Red Sox regular in the lineup hitting over .300 in the Series except Ramirez.
Lester started off in rare form, catching Kaz Matsui's popup leading off the first. When Ramirez misplayed Matsui's fly ball to left field into a double in the third, Lester also took care of the trouble himself.
The lefty struck out Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday, punctuating the last pitch with a fist pump. Down to their last chance, Colorado's hitters seemed to press and take huge hacks. Lester used that eagerness in his favor, often fooling them with sliders.
Cook, too, was trying to add a chapter to his success story. His career was cut short a few years ago because of blood clots in his lungs. He started on opening day this season, but hadn't pitched in a major league game since Aug. 10 because of a strained side muscle.
Halfway through the game, it was clearly a pitchers' duel. Hardly anyone would have predicted that in the pre-humidor days, when Coors hosted the highest-scoring All-Star game and earned its reputation as a hitters' haven.
Notes: Francona is the first manager to start 8-0 in the Series. ... The Red Sox finished with 18 doubles, one off the Series record by the 1946 Cardinals and 1910 Philadelphia Athletics. ... The sweep meant no split decision for Denver sports fans. They can give their full attention to the Broncos, home Monday night against Brett Favre and Green Bay.
[The Associated Press;
By BEN WALKER]
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