Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Updated: October 29, 5:47 PM ET
Nirvana in New England
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS -- The dream is now a reality. After 86 years of title-futility, the Red Sox are finally World Series champions.
The talk of curses is really silly. There was no curse on this franchise. What got Boston its first World Series title since 1918 was incredible starting pitching, the best they've ever had in their history.
The trio of Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe were tremendous. The three pitchers combined didn't allow an earned run for 20 innings over the final three games of this World Series. They were lights-out in every way conceivable. And that's exactly what's needed from a starting pitching staff in the postseason. The ones that are almost always are the ones that win.
And Lowe came through in the biggest of ways in Game 4 as he tossed seven brilliant innings, allowing no runs on only three hits. He pitched to only four batters over the minimum and retired 13 batters in a row from the first inning through the fifth. He had his great command throughout, and never let up on the Cardinals' hitters.
Lowe showed he was on his game early on as through the first three innings he threw a total of 29 pitches, 21 of which were for strikes. Seven of his nine pitches in the third were strikes.
And in the fourth and fifth innings he was just as dominant. In the fourth, he was arguably at his best as he threw just nine pitches, six of which were for strikes. He didn't reach his first three-ball count on a batter until the fifth inning. But amazingly, he got out of that inning throwing just 16 pitches, 10 of which were for strikes.
As was the case in this entire series, Lowe totally dominated the heart of the Cardinals' lineup -- Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. The three were a combined 1-for-12 in Game 4, and for the series were a horrific 5-for-42 with just one RBI.
Lowe got all the support he needed from the very first batter of the game as Johnny Damon smoked a 2-and-1 fastball from Cardinals starter Jason Marquis over the wall in right-center.
|Lowe was the winning pitcher in all three playoff clinchers.|
And though the Red Sox scored only three runs in Game 4, they hit the ball hard on numerous occasions. Trot Nixon, for one, was great as he went 3-for-4 with two RBI. The ball he hit for a two-out, two-run double off the right-center wall in the third inning was absolutely scalded.
The Red Sox become the third straight wild-card team to win the World Series (the Angels won in 2002, while the Marlins took home the crown last season), and they did so by executing in nearly all phases of the game. They won their final eight games after starting out the playoffs 3-3.
Ever since the deals they made at the July 31 trading deadline, this team showed a real togetherness. It was a brilliantly constructed team, and it should be of no surprise to anyone that this team is the 2004 World Champs. They were without a doubt the best team.