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Thursday, October 3, 2013
5 for 5: How far will this Sox team go?

By ESPNBoston.com

In the days leading up to the ALDS, we asked five people -- our four Red Sox pundits and one reader -- to answer five questions about this surprisingly successful Red Sox team.

Today's question: What’s your prediction on how far the Red Sox will go?


• Gordon Edes: Red Sox will win the World Series

The hardest test may be the first one -- the Tampa Bay Rays come in having won three straight elimination games in three different cities, which does wonders for a team’s backbone -- but the Red Sox will return to the World Series for the first time since 2007. And they will win.

The chemistry? Great. The beards? A rallying symbol. The fun? Infectious. But this team will win the World Series because of talent and resilience, strong starting pitching and a shutdown closer. They have star power, they have a terrific supporting cast, and they are at their best when the situation demands their best.

October baseball is capricious, often unfair, and always unforgiving. The Sox could stumble; many great teams do. But this team has yet to run out of answers, and it won’t now. Fire up the duck boats.

• Joe McDonald: Red Sox will win the World Series

Based on the way this team played so consistently throughout the 2013 season, and given the fact the players have remained relatively healthy, the Red Sox are poised for a deep postseason run, one I think will end with a World Series title. It starts with pitching and the Red Sox have the horses. Motivation and experience are big factors, too. David Ortiz wants to add to his legendary status in Boston. Dustin Pedroia simply hates to lose more than any other player on the field, so he’ll be pumped. The once so-called, short-term complementary players -- Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and David Ross -- also have something to prove.

Believe it or not, I think having such a disastrous 2012 season is one of the reasons why this Red Sox team has been so good in 2013. So, at least something good came from the Bobby Valentine era in Boston.

• Tony Lee: Red Sox will beat Braves in World Series

When I think of the best baseball teams I’ve seen over the years, one quality stands out: relentlessness. The 2004 and 2007 Red Sox teams had it, that ability to never let the losing last and to squeeze everything out of every hot streak, every lead, every single at-bat to the point where it wears down opponents. That is a wonderful quality come October, and it, among other reasons, is why Boston will win the World Series.

While grinding out at-bats better than anyone, Boston never lost more than three games in a row. The other nine teams that qualified for postseason had season-high losing streaks that averaged nearly six games, with three suffering through slides of seven or more. You hit the skids in October and your season is over in a heartbeat. Boston is healthy, motivated, playing well entering the month and has shown time and again that it can sustain quality baseball and recover from rare bouts of poor play better than anyone in the game. My World Series prediction? Boston over Atlanta in six games.

• Kyle Brasseur: Red Sox will lose to A’s in ALCS

As tough as it is to bet against the team with the best record in the American League, I can’t see the Red Sox making it past the ALCS. A team’s pitching carries it through the postseason and as good a starting four of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy is, the Red Sox have far too many question marks in the late-innings leading up to closer Koji Uehara to feel safe heading into a seven game series against Detroit or Oakland. I see the Athletics beating Detroit in the ALDS and sending the Red Sox home in the Championship Series. The Athletics were second in starter’s ERA and third in bullpen ERA during the regular season, giving them the most all-around balanced pitching staff among AL playoff teams. They may not have any star players, but this Oakland team has proven it’s for real and is primed for a deep playoff run.

• Reader Mike O. from Plainfield, Ill.: Red Sox will lose to Dodgers in World Series

I think personally the Red Sox will make it to the World Series but lose. They will get past the Rays in the ALDS in 4 games. Then they will host the Oakland A’s in the ALCS. After getting past the A's in six games, with a go-ahead home run by Mike Napoli in the eighth inning of Game 6.

The Red Sox will meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. The Dodgers' pitching proves too much, as the Red Sox lose three games by two runs or fewer. Ultimately, the Dodgers will win in Game 7, with Clayton Kershaw pitching 8 innings of 2-run ball, and the Red Sox lose 5-3.