(JACK DEMPSEY ~ Associated Press)
DENVER -- There's a new monster in baseball, and this one's in Boston, too.
Overwhelming in every way, the Red Sox swept to their second title in four years Sunday night. Jon Lester, Mike Lowell & Co. left little room for drama with a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies in Game 4.
Then again, no NL team could have blocked Boston this October.
This was hardly a repeat from 2004, when the Red Sox ended their 86-year championship drought by beating St. Louis. Boston is a major league bully these days, playing in rarefied air before crowds who demand to win.
(JACK DEMPSEY ~ Associated Press)
At this rate, New England fans might get spoiled. Manager Terry Francona's team has become a perfect counterpart to coach Bill Belichick's bruisers on the Patriots.
After trailing 3-1 to Cleveland in the AL championship series, the Red Sox won seven straight games and won their seventh World Series crown.
The Rockies, who won a remarkable 21 of 22 games to get this far, were a mere afterthought by the end. Brad Hawpe homered in the seventh inning and Garrett Atkins hit a two-run shot in the eighth that came too late.
Lester, undergoing chemotherapy at this time last year for cancer, pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning and Jonathan Papelbon closed with his third save of the Series.
(DAVID J. PHILLIP ~ The Associated Press)
"It took all 25 of us to get the job done," Papelbon said. "It's just phenomenal."
Lowell led a team that hit .333 in the Series with a home run, double and headfirst slide to score a run. Rookie Jacoby Ellsbury got it started with a leadoff double and, even without big contributions from sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, Boston was too good.
Bobby Kielty made the most of his first appearance in this Series, connecting for a pinch-hit home run in the eighth.
Coors Field was filled with Red Sox fans, many of them brazenly waving brooms.
The celebrations started early, with converted designated hitter Ortiz raising his hand after a nice scoop at first base, and Lester pumping his fist after a key strikeout.
Of the seven postseason series this year, five ended in sweeps. The Rockies' last chance to avoid it came in the ninth, when Jamey Carroll flied out to the wall for the second out in the ninth.
By the ninth inning, only one mystery really remained: What would happen to the ball from the final out? Remember, it took all sorts of gyrations after Boston's most recent title before Doug Mientkiewicz donated his souvenir to the Hall of Fame.
This time, Varitek caught the final pitch and tucked it in his back pocket as Papelbon threw his glove high in the air after striking out pinch-hitter Seth Smith. The Red Sox spilled out of the dugout to party between the mound and first.
Rockies fans spent part of the night trying to outshout hundreds of Red Sox rooters -- Boston folks apparently figured how to cut through Colorado's online ticket mixup.
The crowd in purple hollered louder, but that's the only matchup Colorado won this week.
In every other phase, Boston was better.
Ace Josh Beckett dominated in Game 1, relievers Papelbon and Okajima closed out Game 2 and rookies Dustin Pedroia, Ellsbury and Matsuzaka starred in Game 3.
When the Red Sox won in 2004, it represented a catharsis for fans all over New England. Many had wondered whether they'd live to see a championship -- in fact, as fall turned to winter, tombstones showed up from Bangor to Brattleboro with references to the title.
Then, even bit players like Dave Roberts became household names to anyone wearing the fancy Boston "B." Backups such as Pokey Reese joined Paul Revere and Plymouth Rock in local lore.
Now, expectations are a lot different. Instead of "Wait till next year," it's "Next year, too!"
While Curt Schilling and Lowell can become free agents, the Red Sox enjoy a bright future. They didn't have room on the postseason roster for Clay Buchholz, the rookie who pitched a no-hitter last month.
Lowell, the steady third baseman, hit .400 (6-for-15), scored six runs and drove in four. The thousands of Red Sox fans who gathered behind their dugout after the game chanted, "Re-sign Lowell!"
Right from the get-go, it was Boston's night.
Ellsbury, who began the year merely hoping for a promotion to Class AAA, sliced the second pitch 3 feet inside the left-field line for a double. He alertly advanced on a grounder and scored when Ortiz barely bounced a single through the drawn-in infield.