Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Their lineup led the majors in runs scored, the defense was second in defensive efficiency and their starters were experienced and dependable.
If the team was vulnerable, the thinking went, it was in its set-up relief. Closer Koji Uehara wasn't a problem, but getting to him could be one.
So much for conventional wisdom.
The bullpen combined for 11 innings over the course of four games and allowed just two runs. One of those runs, improbably, was given up by Uehara, previously viewed as virtually unhittable.
And in the Game 4 clincher on Tuesday night, the relief was almost perfect: Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Uehara combined for 3 1/3 innings and allowed exactly one baserunner -- and that came on an infield hit.
CSNNE: Sox bullpen shines in Tampa
The bullpen would be the Sox weakness? That theory just got blown up. Craig Breslow has been incredibly underrated throughout the year proved that he could be as dominant against right handed batters as he is against lefties. He did receive some help from David Ross framing everything on the lower left side of the plate, but he's significantly better against rightys. They're batting .208 this year while lefties are batting .253. He's can come in for the lefty-lefty matchup and actually pitch to more than one batter. He's taking over the spot that Koji was pegged for at the beginning of the year.
Speaking of Koji, man was it a relief to see him go perfect for the last four outs. He's been incredibly filthy over the past year but he's had some problems in the playoffs. I've been riding the Koji high-five bandwagon since we signed him but I knew this was an issue. With the way he's pitched he's earned a pass on the Lobaton home run, but he needed to close out last night and hopefully he exorcised some demons.
Now the Sox move on to the ALCS and look pretty damn good. Whoever comes out of the other ALDS have a tall task at hand. The bullpen flexed their muscle and reminds us that this is a complete team. One capable of winning it all.
Saturday can't come soon enough.
Globe: Contributions come from all sides | Sox run over Rays | So many standouts | Herald: Sox head to ALCS | Farrell's changeup proves to be decisive act | Sox have fight, intangibles to be last team standing | Club steals spotlight with baserunning skills | Koji bounces back | CSNNE: Bogearts shows poise beyond years | No complaints over quirks at Trop | WEEI: What a difference a day makes | Maddon explains quick hook for Hellickson | Sox headed to ALCS