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The coasting Red Sox and grinding Rockies both saw their seasons come to an end this past weekend with their closers on the mound. For Boston is was Jonathan Papelbon allowing his first postseason runs while allowing the Angels to dig themselves out of a two run deficit with two outs and nobody on. For Colorado, it was Huston Street blowing a fresh Rockie lead.
It was an abrupt end for both teams, who had visions of grandeur. Colorado powered through the second half of the season behind Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki. Boston struggled through injury and pitching deficiency but seemed poised to make a run with a strong top of the rotation.
Instead it was an anemic Sox offense that scored just seven runs in the three game series. David Ortiz, whose second half resurgence gave faint hopes to the type of offense the team has had in years past, appeared dazed and swinging an foam pool noodle. Longtime stalwart Kevin Youkilis managed just one hit while RBI leader Jason Bay managed the same. The Sox were victimized by Bobby Abreu and the surprising Erick Aybar. Aybar, who was the goat of 2008’s ALDS for Los Angeles, came up huge with the game 3 rally starting single.
Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki, a player who the Rockies seem to either rise or fall with, went just 1/5 and ended the game with a strikeout. Beleaguered Phillies closer Brad Lidge has seemingly reinvented himself in just days after being one of the worst closers in baseball in 2009.
The offseason plates differ greatly for these two clubs. Colorado is filled with young talent, Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez and Clint Barmes should again be key players. Jeff Francis should return to bolster a staff that has been lifted by Jimenez and Aaron Cook. Franklin Morales will likely take on a larger role.
For Boston, it’s a reloading year to be certain. Not only did they fail to make it out of the ALDS, they’ve been quickly surpassed in performance and talent by their hated rivals from Gotham. Expect to see left fielder Jason Bay return, as he was a consistent performer during the regular season. General Manager Theo Epstein faces tough decisions ahead with Mike Lowell and David Ortiz appearing near the end of the road. The offense needs a feature bat badly, as they have a collection of #6 hitters (Bay, Drew, Lowell,) and #5 hitters (Youkilis, Martinez). The team also has a decision at shortstop, which has been a revolving door since Nomar Garciaparra was traded. If there is one silver lining in Boston, which took a beating Sunday with the Patriots also losing, its that the Sox will almost certainly pursue at least one big bat in addition to either Roy Halladay or Aroldis Chapman.
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