As we all are being reminded again and again, the last two times the Red Sox won the World Series, they were facing ALCS deficits at least as bad as the one they face now.
But there’s more than one way to fall behind, 3-1 (or 3-0). Here, then, is a look at what the Sox managed to do in digging their hole each of these years:
- 2004 (through first three games): .280/.313/.467 — 10-7 L, 3-1 L, 19-8 L
- 2007: (through first four games): .270/.346/.445 — 10-3 W, 13-6 L, 4-2 L, 7-3 L
- 2008: (through first three games): .232/.323/.415 — 2-0 W, 9-8 L, 9-1 L, 13-4 L
- 2004: 8.35 ERA, 2.28 WHIP, .364 BAA, 1.14 K/BB
- 2007: 6.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .270 BAA, 3.00 K/BB
- 2008: 7.17 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, .276 BAA, 2.12 K/BB
Safe to say that the Sox not only were in a worse hole in 2004 in terms of games (3-0 vs. 3-1), their pitching was much, much worse in getting there. They gave up 29 runs in two games, thanks to Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield. And Schilling looked done for the season by this point. The 2007 Sox had pitched about as effectively to this point as the 2008 Sox. So there’s some hope there.
On offense, the Sox are taking a ton of walks, but they’re hitting the ball with much less authority than in either of the previous two seasons. The cause can be directly attributed to David Ortiz’s hellacious slump. He makes the lineup go.
In short, last year’s rally shouldn’t have been entirely unexpected. The pitchers had struggled a bit, but not as badly as a 6.75 ERA would suggest, and the offense had been performing well enough. This year, the Sox will need to exponentially improve both their pitching and hitting to win this series — on a level equivalent to the 2004 transformation between Games 3 and 4. Can the Sox do that twice in five years? I guess we’ll see.