The Boston Red Sox were the best team in baseball in 2007, and it wasn’t even that close.
On a Sunday night in late October, the Red Sox put the finishing touches on a championship season, sweeping away the Colorado Rockies to win the World Series at Coors Field.
Despite a slight speed bump in the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox ran through their postseason opponents like a buzzsaw over the course of a downright dominant title campaign.
Red Sox fans can relive the championship glory Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on NESN with a replay of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series. Here are a few things you might have forgotten about that game.
1. Jonny on the spot
Back in 2007, Jon Lester wasn’t yet the All-Star postseason hero we’ve come to know him as. With just 26 big-league starts under his belt, Lester got the ball in Game 4. The 23-year-old made the most of the unexpected opportunity, working into the sixth inning and holding a Rockies team that averaged nearly six runs per game at home during the regular season scoreless. Not bad for your first postseason start.
Making that performance even more special was Lester’s already difficult road. He made the start about a year after completing chemotherapy for lymphoma.
“The clutchest game I’ve ever seen pitched,” noted postseason hero Curt Schilling told reporters after the game. “To pitch as well as Jon did given what he’s been through … It’s absolutely incredible what he did out there tonight.”
2. Early offense
The Red Sox jumped out to yet another early lead, thanks to — who else — David Ortiz. The slugger’s 2007 postseason heroics don’t get nearly as much attention as 2004 or 2013, but his first-inning RBI single was the continuation of a dominant run. Ortiz had a hit in all but two of Boston’s 14 postseason games while launching three home runs and 10 RBIs. Ortiz’s 1.204 postseason OPS in 2007 ended up nearly identical to his 2013 mark (1.206), a playoff performance that’s considered among the best of all time.
3. MVP Mike
Mike Lowell’s 2007 season was easily his best in a Boston uniform and might have been the best of his entire career. The 33-year-old set career highs in batting average (.324) and RBIs (120) while also hitting 21 home runs and 37 doubles — all while playing stellar defense at third base. He saved the best for last, going 6-for-15 in the World Series and saving his lone home run of the series for the decisive game. Lowell’s seventh-inning home run off Colorado starter Aaron Cook gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead as part of a two-hit night from the eventual World Series MVP.
4. Bobby Kielty?!?
The Oakland Athletics released Bobby Kielty on Aug. 1, 2007. Five days later, the Red Sox signed the 31-year-old to a minor league deal. After a couple of weeks in Pawtucket, he was promoted to Boston where he was used as a depth piece, a bench player who got some spot starts and pinch-hitting opportunities. He started a pair of games in the ALCS and didn’t play at all in the World Series — until Game 4. Terry Francona called Kielty’s name as a pinch-hitter for Mike Timlin with Bobby Fuentes on the mound.
With the Red Sox leading 3-1, Kielty jumped on the first pitch from Fuentes, clobbering it deep to left field for a home run to put Boston ahead by three.
“Probably the greatest moment I’ll ever have in baseball,” Kielty told reporters after the game. ” … This went from one of the roughest years I’ve ever had to one of the best years I’ve ever had. It’s crazy how baseball works.”
It would be Kielty’s final big league at-bat.
5. Holding on to win it all
Things got dicey in the bottom of the eighth inning for the Red Sox. Reliever Hideki Okajima, a postseason star all fall, ran into rare trouble after Todd Helton singled with one out. Garrett Atkins followed by hitting a line-drive, two-run home run to pull the Rockies within one run.
With five outs to go for a world title, Francona once again called on closer Jonathan Papelbon. He settled things down, getting a groundout and a flyout to end the eighth.
Colorado never stood a chance in the ninth. Papelbon got the first two hitters each in 0-2 holes before inducing a groundout and lineout, respectively. Seth Smith then joined Edgard Renteria in Red Sox lore, as he came to the plate hitting for pitcher Manny Corpas. Smith had no chance, as Papelbon overpowered him with a 2-2 fastball for a game-winning, World Series-winning strikeout that sent Boston into pandemonium for the second time in four years.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/MLB