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Sports

September 22, 2013

The big turnaround

Red Sox wipe out memories of last season with dramatic wins, team leaders

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2009 — and after the organization’s most gloomy two-year stretch since winning just 62 games in 1965 and 72 games in ‘66.

Maybe only the world’s best clairvoyant could have predicted the Red Sox would go from 69 wins under an egomaniac named Bobby Valentine in 2012 to a World Series favorite under the well-prepared and understated John Farrell in 2013.

Boston’s turnaround from last year to this year is larger than its turnaround from 1966 to ‘67, the Impossible Dream season when the Sox and the great Carl Yastrzemski, who will be honored with a statue in his likeness today at Fenway Park, made the World Series but lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Boston entered Thursday having won 23 more games than last year, marking the club’s largest increase in wins — excluding the strike-shortened 1981 and 1994 seasons — since the 1946 club (104-50) won 33 more games than in ‘45.

Order has been restored from Boston’s front office to the manager to the coaching staff to the players. Up and down the roster, this team is filled with leaders from Jonny Gomes to David Ross to Shane Victorino to Dustin Pedroia to Ryan Dempster to Mike Napoli to David Ortiz.

“That’s how you win — with leadership,” said Ortiz, who has been a fixture in the middle of the Red Sox batting order since 2003. “Guys are into it. Guys try to give everything they have every day. That’s how you get to that point.”

As of now, Boston is the top seed in the American League.

This Red Sox team is filled with high character players (unlike 2011, ‘12), but several other factors had to come together for Boston to win the AL East besides a change in culture on the field and in the clubhouse.

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