The 2013 Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions. They are the first franchise to win three World Series titles in the new century after winning their eleventh postseason game in the sixth of their best-of-seven game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the best-of-seven format, the first team to win four games wins the series. The first two games were played at Fenway Park, with the next three in St. Louis, and the final two scheduled again for Fenway.
The Red Sox jumped on St. Louis in Game 1, taking advantage of miscues by the Cardinals to score early and often against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. Behind starter Jon Lester, the Red Sox took a 1-0 series lead in a dominant 8-1 victory.
In the second and third games, the momentum shifted as the Cardinals won two tight games that came down to one bad play by the Red Sox, both on throws to third base.
In Game 2, Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow threw wildly to third base, allowing the Cardinals to take a sudden 3-2 lead late, which would carry them to victory, tying the series at one game apiece.
In Game 3, the Red Sox missed out on a spectacular game-preserving double play in the ninth inning when third baseman Will Middlebrooks interfered with Cardinals runner Allen Craig. Middlebrooks incidentally tripped up Craig, who was attempting to head home after Middlebrooks couldn’t handle a throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The umpires ruled obstruction, instantly giving Craig home plate and the Cardinals a stunning victory.
The Sox rebounded in Game 4, showing their resiliency when it mattered most. After American League Championship Series hero Shane Victorino was scratched from the lineup with a bad back, fill-in Jonny Gomes belted a three-run home run to give Boston a lead in the sixth inning. The bullpen would hold on, as closer Koji Uehara locked down a 4-2 victory to tie the series again.
In a crucial Game 5, the Sox again turned to ace Jon Lester, who delivered one of his best starts ever. Pitching into the eighth inning, Lester kept the Cardinals lineup at bay with seven strikeouts and just four hits allowed. Uehara took over and recorded his second straight save, as Boston took a 3-2 lead back to Fenway Park.
In Game 6, the Red Sox outslugged the Cardinals with a three-run double and RBI base hit by Victorino, a solo home run by Stephen Drew, and an RBI single by Mike Napoli during the third and fourth innings. With a 6-0 lead, Boston had a commanding lead, which their bullpen would hold to win the championship.
They weren’t the most talented team in 2013—in fact they were arguably not even the best. So what made them World Series champions? It really came down to health. This Red Sox team battled injuries like most others, but they had a talented enough bench with utility players like Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes. The team was built to perform consistently, and they showed with 108 wins spanning from the start of the season, way back in April, all the way to the end of October without losing as many as four games in a row.
Their rotation stood strong despite the absence of Clay Buchholz and the ups and downs of Jon Lester, who reaffirmed his position as staff ace this October. John Lackey returned to a form we’ve never seen in a Boston uniform, while Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster logged valuable innings to maintain an effective bullpen.
Koji Uehara is the story of the season—stepping into the closer’s role after both Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan went down with injuries. His dominant stretch in the second half of the season included a “hidden” perfect game, in which he retired 27 consecutive batters over the course of several appearances.
First baseman Mike Napoli proved himself worthy of his original contract, providing a necessary pop in the lineup while playing unexpected spectacular defense at first base, a shift from his typical primary role as a catcher or designated hitter.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia played as the heart and soul of the team, and as always he managed to put together an extremely productive season by staying healthy—even if that meant dealing with a torn ligament in his left thumb all year, which he says actually helped him shorten his swing.
Third base was problematic for Boston this season, but Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts played the role effectively enough in the postseason to keep it from being a weakness.
Shortstop Stephen Drew was overpaid for one season in Boston, but his value was felt in October as his defense kept him in the lineup. Drew will be a free agent this offseason and may not return to Boston with Bogaerts lined up to take over his position, but he’ll always be remembered on a positive note in the memories of the Red Sox faithful.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia played an undervalued role on the team while putting together his best offensive season. Saltalamacchia caught 113 regular season games, which was crucial when backup David Ross dealt with recurring concussion symptoms. Ross was initially signed to split the catching duties with Saltalamacchia evenly.
The outfield was one of the best in baseball, as the signing of Shane Victorino brilliantly put the natural center fielder in the large right field at Fenway Park, aiding center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury in tracking nearly all catchable fly balls.
The combination of Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava produced far more than ever could be anticipated, as Gomes acted as both a spirited veteran presence and dangerous pinch-hitter, and Nava continued his fairytale story by playing at an elite level.
But as we were reminded in the World Series, no one better symbolizes the pride and rich tradition of the Boston Red Sox than Big Papi. The 37-year old slugger was their to lift the city immediately following the tragic events at the Boston Marathon, and he was their again to pick his teammates up with an inspirational dugout speech during Game 4.
Of course, he was also there to provide plenty of power to the lineup. After hitting just .091 in the previous round, Ortiz carried the Red Sox in the World Series, becoming an unstoppable offensive force like we’ve never seen. He is a true leader, constantly focused on the goal at hand, having overcome a seemingly dead career to bring Boston their eighth World Series championship, and third since they reversed the curse in 2004. This is his (expletive) city.