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Sox Beat: Greater than the sum of their parts
SINCE the day the club officially promoted New Hampshire's Ben Cherington a couple of Octobers ago, installing the Plainfield native and Lebanon High School graduate as general manager, he has steered the baseball operations side of the organization with a stated purpose.
On Wednesday night, before boisterously happy full house at Fenway Park, that mission became complete.
After winning 97 games in the regular season, after battling through the elite pitching of the Rays and Tigers, and, finally, after overcoming a Cardinals club that was the best the National League had to offer, the Red Sox year-long fight for redemption finished like a fairy tale.
Indeed it was — and from the start.
From the start of spring training, it was clear that Cherington's choice to bring in high-character veterans with reputations for being good teammates had combined with the respected voices of Farrell and his trusted coaching staff to successfully change the culture of a clubhouse that had been corrupted over the two previous seasons.
Koji Uehera appeared in 13 postseason games, allowing just one run over 13 2/3 innings, striking out 16 while walking none and recording seven saves. Mike Napoli had enormous hits that decided games in two different series. Stephen Drew was as steady as they come at shortstop. Jonny Gomes was started 11 postseason game and the Sox won all but one, with the catalytic left fielder reaching base three times in the clincher. David Ross emerged as the team's starting catcher in the World Series.
Probably the most accomplished of the players Boston brought in, Victorino struggled mightily against both Detroit and St. Louis, managing only five hits in 42 plate appearances. But one of those hits was a seventh-inning grand slam that won Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, and another came under similar circumstances Wednesday night.
Drew continued the fun in the next inning, leading off with a first-pitch homer into the home team's bullpen — "He actually told me he was going to hit a home run tonight," Napoli later said — and the Sox tacked on two more tallies when Napoli drove in Ellsbury and a Victorino single plated Ortiz (after Big Papi walked for the third time in four innings).
After that there will be questions to be answered and tough decisions to be made, with several key free agents about to hit the market and a surplus of veteran starting pitchers. Cherington and coampany will waste little time in beginning the process of building the next great Red Sox team.
"Ben Cherington deserves all the credit in the world for what he has done for this roster, the players that he's brought in," Farrell said. "And most importantly to the players, to come in and see the energy and the commitment that they had, the buying into a team concept every single day, and the one thing that really stands out more than anything is just their overall will to win, and that was (never) more evident than in this entire postseason."
"I had a lot of confidence," said Victorino. "The pieces of the puzzle were here. They guys that were added to that puzzle -- we were just trying to be complementary players. I didn't come with the mindset that I'm going to be the guy -- that guy. All of us, we went with the mindset that we were going to be one team -- we're going to go out there, we 're going to have fun."
"And now we're world champs."
Dave D'Onofrio covers the Red Sox for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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