Where Did it All Go Wrong for the Red Sox?

The irony was painful. After a summer of blowout wins and offensive fireworks, the Red Sox succumbed weakly in the fall, unable to locate the big hit when it mattered most. A vaunted lineup, unrivaled in the Majors this season, was stifled by a resilient Cleveland Indians team, as old friend Terry Francona masterminded a Division Series sweep of Boston.

Red Sox

Before the series, few people took the Indians seriously. Three of their best players – Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar – were missing due to injury. Another star, Corey Kluber, saw his start pushed back due to another ailment. By most measures, the Red Sox were far superior. Most fans predicted a swift sweep. That’s exactly what they got, but of an entirely different flavor.

A Shock for Red Sox Nation

The way it happened was stunning. Boston didn’t play great to close the regular season, but a refreshed approach was expected once the playoffs began. Instead, Red Sox Nation was left waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more, for a team that never showed up. Almost from the first pitch in Cleveland, there was a sense of brewing melodrama. There was a sense that this team had run its course, quite incredibly. The Indians finished the job with shocking rapidity.

Perhaps plain old complacency is to blame. Did the Red Sox simply believe their own hype? That’s difficult to confirm, but it would at least explain the way Boston was caught like a deer in the headlights. When the games really mattered, when the wheat was separated from the chaff, this team wasn’t good enough. It just never got going. And now we’re left to contemplate through the bitter months ahead.

As people digest this loss around the hot stoves of New England, one topic will inspire more debate that any other: the choking offense. So powerful during the regular season, the Red Sox lineup froze on the biggest stage of all.

How Did the Red Sox Get Swept?

While it’s unfair to pinpoint any one guy for criticism, it is worth noting the performance of these praised hitters to paint a collective picture. Dustin Pedroia managed two hits in twelve ALDS at-bats. Mookie Betts, by all consensus an MVP candidate, collected just two in ten. That was better than Jackie Bradley, who produced just one hit, while Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez combined to go 6-for-24. It just wasn’t good enough.

Even David Ortiz, the master of October baseball, found little magic left in his wand. Papi added just one more hit to his postseason ledger before riding off into the cold night. For once, he couldn’t muster the big blow, and neither could his teammates. The Red Sox left 41 runners on base during this three-game series. They scored just seven runs. In the end, after all the worrying, that ridiculed rotation kept Boston in these games for the most part. The offense just couldn’t deliver.

And so, what now? The Red Sox will seek a replacement for Ortiz, as weird as that sounds. Perhaps John Farrell will see his position as manager reviewed. Maybe Dave Dombrowski will try to address some weaknesses throughout the offseason.

This young core will return to the postseason on plenty of occasions moving forward. But, right now, this was just a step too far for Mookie, Xander, Jackie and the rest. They should learn from the experience, and come back stronger for it. That may not help Red Sox fans deal with the present shock, but it should assist these players in preparing for future assaults on a World Series championship.

Red Sox Versus Indians: 2016 ALDS Preview

The Red Sox are about to embark on their first postseason run since 2013. More importantly, it will be just the second time in seven years that October baseball will visit Boston. So, what can fans expect in the American League Division Series, and will the Red Sox advance?

Red Sox

Well, it’s perhaps easier to answer the first question. Boston has a first round matchup with the Cleveland Indians, needing three wins to advance. The first two games will be played at Progressive Field, with the next two at Fenway Park. If a deciding fifth contest is needed, the teams will travel back to Cleveland, which has experienced something of a baseball revival in recent months.

Cleveland Will Test the Red Sox

The Indians have a fascinating history. From the days of Cy Young and Nap Lajoie through to Bob Feller and Larry Doby, and on to Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, Cleveland has built some very good teams. However, that effort has yielded just two world championships, and none since 1948. Still, the Cavaliers won an NBA title this year, ending Cleveland’s notorious drought, so perhaps there’s a little magic in the air by Lake Erie.

A familiar friend captains the Cleveland ship. Terry Francona, the mastermind of two World Series championships for the Red Sox, has been the Indians’ manager since 2013. The first few years were rough, but a core of young players has since emerged, with shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jason Kipnis leading Cleveland to its first full postseason series since 2007. Attendance has increased for Indians home games, and this is definitely a team looking to progress swiftly.

The Indians Are Struggling With Injuries

Francona won’t be able to rely much on his vaunted starting rotation in this series, though. The Indians pitched to a 3.86 ERA during the regular season, much better than the Red Sox’ 4.00 mark. However, the Indians have lost Carlos Carrasco to injury. Ace Corey Kluber will return from a scare to pitch in Game 2, but Danny Salazar, the third head of this tremendous trident, has not made the ALDS roster thanks to a strained forearm.

Essentially, the Indians’ biggest strength has been decimated by injuries. Trevor Bauer and his 4.42 career ERA will start Game 1 against the Red Sox, while Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger aren’t exactly petrifying. Nevertheless, Boston cannot take anything for granted, especially given the erratic nature of its own pitching staff.

The Red Sox do have a considerable advantage in terms of offense. Boston scored 101 more runs than Cleveland during the regular season, and also had a far superior run differential. Those statistics may not play especially well in a short series, but no team in baseball can fully match the Red Sox with regard to a dynamic lineup that can score in multiple ways. If the bats keep producing at their normal clip, and the pitching holds up, it will be really difficult for the Indians to stick with the Red Sox.

Of course, nothing is ever easy in October. All of these teams emerged from the enormous grind of a season to earn this opportunity. But the Indians seem to be falling apart physically at the worst possible time, affording the Red Sox a brilliant chance of advancing.

So strap yourself in. It’s time to get excited. Let’s see if Big Papi and the Red Sox have one more run in them, when it really matters most.

What’s Next For Hobbling Red Sox?

After two dreadful seasons, the Boston Red Sox clinched their first playoff berth since 2013. It came during an eleven-game winning streak. A streak that saw Hanley Ramirez’s bat litter the night sky with spinning white baseballs. A streak where the Red Sox came from behind to beat their nemesis, the New York Yankees. Although they are now playoff contenders, the hobbling Red Sox, who won only one game after September 25th, will now face the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, October 6th. There’s much at stake as the Red Sox travel to Cleveland.

It could be said that the retirement ceremonies played a role in the Red Sox poor season finish. Thehobbling red sox attention David Ortiz received no doubt distracted him. Despite all the praise showered on Ortiz, it also hurt the team’s ability to stay focused. This may have led the team to lose important games in the final week of the season. Of course, it’s not fair to say that the attention Ortiz received broke the team’s winning streak. Other factors include manager John Farrell’s choice to play the B team in to keep the team’s top players healthy for the playoffs. Regardless of that plan, a Red Sox victory on the last day of the season would have capped what has already been a historic year for the team. Instead, a hobbling Red Sox team lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, who are fighting for a playoff spot themselves.

Beating Cleveland Will Be a Challenge for The Hobbling Red Sox

The Cleveland Indians are one of those teams that people often forget about. Since their incorporation in 1901, the Indians have won only two World Series titles, in 1920 and 1948. They’ve come close since then, but they still rank among the top when it comes to World Series droughts. One might say that Boston doesn’t want a World Series title as badly as Cleveland does since they just won one three years ago. That idea, however, is ridiculous. The Red Sox aren’t so arrogant as to “forfeit” a World Series title, especially in Big Papi’s final season, which would be the greatest of sendoffs for any retiring player.

If the Red Sox are going to make it to the World Series, they have to play their A game. The hobbling Red Sox have to snap out of the lethargic play fans saw last week. Yes, they’re tired, but they’ll have to work harder than ever now. The Red Sox won’t only face a hungry team in Cleveland, they’ll also have to play before an enthusiastic crowd.

Whatever the Red Sox do on Thursday, there’s one thing they MUST remember: It’s very bad to drink Jobu’s rum.

Very bad.

Red Sox Erasing Doubt In A.L. East

For most of the summer, Red Sox fans were looking forward to the final series of the season. The three-game set at Fenway against Toronto was almost surely going to determine the winner of the A.L. East. However, the Red Sox were determined to make that series meaningless. Since a 1-0 loss to Baltimore on September 14th, the Red Sox have yet to lose a game. Along the way, they have put the division crown out of reach for everyone else.

Sunday was just another day at the office for the Boston Red Sox. In another low-scoring A.L. Eastgame at “the Trop” in Tampa, Boston outlasted the Rays 3-2 in ten innings. The win marked the third straight series sweep and 11th straight win for the division leaders. The day was marked by 22 strikeouts by Red Sox pitching, an unbelievable base-running play by Dustin Pedroia, and a gutsy bullpen effort by Joe Kelly.

The streak has put the Red Sox five and a half games up on second place Toronto and seven up on Baltimore. Excellent starting pitching and a virtually unhittable bullpen are propelling the Red Sox right now. Add that to the league’s best offense, and the Red Sox are far and away the hottest team in all of baseball. After the win Sunday, Boston’s magic number to clinch the A.L. East is down to two.

Beyond The A.L. East Title

Not to get ahead of ourselves, the Red Sox will have meaningful games next weekend. While they should have already clinched the division, a much more important title may be at stake. With a playoff spot in tact, the Red Sox now eye home field advantage. They are just one behind the Texas Rangers in the loss column. If they were to pass the Rangers, they would own the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

To think that the Red Sox could possibly have that title just a few weeks ago would have been absurd. With their best baseball of the season this month though, that’s where they find themselves. The Red Sox just surpassed Cleveland in the best-record race, meaning they would host the Indians in the ALDS if the season ended today. This offense is so good it really doesn’t matter where they play, but playing at Fenway would be a huge bonus. With that, the Red Sox could even find a way to slug themselves to the World Series. Luckily for the them, the pitching has been the brightest part if this September run.

Obviously, a run like this can not be expected in the playoffs. If they can keep up this pitching however, you can expect them to represent the American League in the World Series. As we all know, once you get there, anything can happen. Bottom line: don’t count out the Red Sox this October.

 

Red Sox Move On to the ALCS!

ALCS 2013

 

A few words about the Red Sox moving on to the ALCS from our president/CEO… Sly :

“The BoSox prevail and march on to the next round! Just how dangerous is this new look Red Sox team? In the first two games, the Red Sox bashed out hit after hit and crossed the dish time and time again. But to clinch it, they small balled one of the best teams in one run games. Tampa is good, and very dangerous, but this Red Sox team beat them at their own game. These guys can pretty much do it all! They clinched a seat in the next round by only scoring 3 runs, but amazing pitching performance by Jake Peavy has folks in Beantown forgetting all about Iglesias. As much as I loved seeing Iglesias, Peavy is earning his keep in Beantown.

Go Sox! Keep the convoy rolling!”

Yawkey Way Report will be out in full force, as always, when the Sox return to Fenway for game 1 of the ALCS, Saturday October 12th.

We’d love to hear what the fans of Red Sox Nation think, good and bad, about our our beloved BoSox. Do you think our boys can pull it off and go all the way like 2004 and 2007? Do you doubt them and if so, where do your doubts lay? We want to hear from you!

ALDS Game 3: Learning from A Loss

 

alds game 3

Tropicana Field, ugh? Courtesy of blogs.suntimes.com

Let’s review what the Red Sox learned during the ALDS Game 3 loss to Tampa at the Trop.

The team does a heck of a lot better at home. Why? Because Fenway Park is a real baseball field, with real grass, and much better lighting. It does not have catwalks, and a dome built for a football or hockey arena. Balls should not bounce off obstructions in the air, over the playing field. The only obstructions should be in foul territory. Those obstructions cause teams to lose.

Clay Buchholz froze up, got too far inside his head in the latter part of the fourth, and then definitely in the fifth inning. TBS cameras showed a shot of him in the dugout while the Red Sox were batting. You could see that he was in head. Then when he went back out for the fifth he just seemed to be throwing more sliders and curves in the high 80 MPH range. Clay lost confidence in his pitch selection. He can’t let that happen. Buchholz is far too good a natural talent to be so hard on his ability to perform.

Again, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew are just not producing. Napoli is still looking to hit balls as hard as humanly possible. Just make good contact like Jacoby Ellsbury. People are all over Ellsbury and his bloopers. He’s making contact and moving people around the bases, this was especially the case in the early innings. Drew just needs to start his swing sooner. I don’t know what to do with this guy. He’s been defensively solid, but he was even off there last night. The middle of the lineup worries me.

Our middle reliever situation needs some switching up. You cannot put Craig Breslow in when the game is tight and the team is behind the eight ball like they were last night. I am not sure if Ryan Dempster is available, but I would like to see if he could provide support in the middle reliever role. He’s always been good for a couple of innings. I also believe Koji Uehara could go for two innings, and I know other fans agree with me here. Uehara should pitch in the eighth and the ninth. It may have helped him physically last night. What happened with Koji last night was unfortunate.

Finally, the fans learned do not touch the sting rays in the outfield tank. This is verboten.