In two of the three previous World Series appearances for the Boston Red Sox, the Fall Classic was almost anticlimactic.

In 2004 and 2007, Boston survived draining seven-game American League Championship Series – coming back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees (2004) and a 3-1 hole to beat Cleveland (2007). Boston steamrolled into the World Series and swept the Cardinals (’04) and Rockies (’07).

In 2013, Boston beat Detroit in six games in the ALCS – a series in which the Red Sox almost went down 2-0, before David Ortiz’s eighth-inning grand slam in Game 2.

The 2013 World Series was no cakewalk. Boston came back from a 2-1 deficit to win in six games.

So, what will 2018 be for the Red Sox? They disposed of Houston in five games in ALCS, but it was hardly easy. Now they have home-field advantage in the World Series – just as in their previous three.

Previous Boston champions had good rotations with at least two solid starters – Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling (2004), Josh Beckett and Schilling (2007) and Jon Lester and John Lackey (2013) – and shutdown closers (Keith Foulke, Jonathan Papelbon and Koji Uehara).

In 2013, the Red Sox had to get creative with their pitching – something the 2018 team is doing this postseason. Heading into Game 4 of the 2013 Series, Boston trailed the Cardinals 2-1 and had sore-shouldered Clay Buchholz scheduled to start.

Buchholz gutted through four innings, and Boston used five more pitchers, beginning with Felix Doubront (a starter sent to the pen for the playoffs), Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, Lackey (who started Game 2, and would start Game 6) and Uehara, in a 4-2 win.

This 2018 rotation is solid, although unpredictable, and closer Craig Kimbrel has had issues. But Manager Alex Cora is using any pitcher available. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez is in the bullpen. Playoff starters Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi have all been used in relief – and starter David Price was warming up to relieve (but not used) in Game 4 of the ALCS.

RED SOX FANS are a little more confident about the pitching than they were a week ago.

Last Sunday, not only did Price turn in an abbreviated start (4 2/3 innings, four runs), but Chris Sale checked into the hospital with stomach problems (following a short start on Saturday, going four innings, allowing two runs).

Now, Sale is out of the hospital, and, with the ALCS ending in five games, has time to rest and be ready for the World Series Game 1 on Tuesday. Plus, Price exorcised his playoff demons with a stellar Game 5 performance against the Astros – six innings, three hits, no runs and that elusive win as a starter.

Eovaldi has been dealing in the playoffs. Porcello’s versatility is valuable, not to mention his potential bat in the National League ballpark. Porcello batted .429 (3 for 7) with two doubles this season.

The bullpen has been money with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier the chief set-up arms. Kimbrel, who appeared to have been tipping his pitches earlier, has fixed that problem but there is concern about his command. Still to be determined is if knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright and his fragile knee will be added to the roster.

WORLD SERIES experience is thin on this roster. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and reliever Brandon Workman are the only Red Sox that have appeared on both the 2013 and 2018 playoff rosters.

First baseman Mitch Moreland and second baseman Ian Kinsler played for the Rangers in the back-to-back World Series defeats in 2010 and 2011. Price pitched for the Rays in their 2008 World Series loss to Philadelphia.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia has World Series experience but is shelved with a knee injury. Should Boston win the World Series, Pedroia will join Ortiz as the only Boston player this century with three World Series rings.

THE SERIES roster may not be the same as the ALCS, especially if Wright is added. Wright could replace another reliever. Brandon Workman has not pitched since the ALCS Game 1 when he was shelled for four runs, recording only one out.

If Boston goes for a 12th pitcher, No. 3 catcher Blake Swihart could be dropped from the roster. He has appeared in only one game, subbing into the 16-1 rout of the Yankees.

BEST OF THE CENTURY? If Boston wins the World Series, it will be the first major league team with four titles this century. San Francisco also has three.

Boston is on a roll after its much-publicized drought. Before 2004, the last Red Sox title was 100 years ago, when Boston topped the Cubs in six games in 1918. Babe Ruth had only one hit in the series (a triple), but he won his two starts for Boston.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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