The Boston Red Sox have certainly seen better days than recent ones, as a 4-6 homestand, capped off by consecutive losses in games started by Jon Lester and Josh Beckett become the latest installment in a series of disappointments. Beckett himself has seen better days. So as the Sox are in the midst of a four-game series in Cleveland, part of a 10-game road trip that could officially bury the season, let’s take a look back at the best of those times—when Beckett beat then-Cleveland starter C.C. Sabathia in a do-or-die American League Championship Series game at Jacobs Field in 2007.
Beckett and Sabathia were the best two starters in the American League, and at this point it was anyone’s guess who would win the Cy Young Award. Beckett was a 20-game winner and had worked 200 innings for only the second time in his career. Sabathia had 19 wins, but the workhorse had logged 241 innings, and his ERA was slightly lower, at 3.21 compared to Beckett’s 3.27.
On the flip side, Beckett pitched against tough AL East lineups, with six starts a year against the Yankees making for tougher fare than anything Sabathia dealt with in the AL Central. This much was certain—both were elite pitchers, and when they met in Game 5, all the pressure was on Beckett.
After Boston took the opening game of the series—with Beckett beating Sabathia, Cleveland had taken over and won three straight. The white towels were waving at Jacobs Field as the fans were smelling their first pennant in ten years and a chance at their first World Series title since 1948.
If you put it in even bigger perspective, sports in Cleveland was on a high. LeBron James had officially “arrived” as an NBA star in the spring, leading the Cavs to the Finals. The Indians were stocked with young talent like Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez in the everyday lineup, to go with Sabathia and Fausto Carmona in the rotation. This long-suffering sports city was ready to break though and they were ready for October 18, 2007 to be a big step along the way.