Red Sox Take Down The Rays; Advance to ALCS

It finally happened, the Boston Red Sox are advancing to the American League Championship Series. After beating the Yankees in the Wild Card Game, the Red Sox take down the Rays in style to go on. After losing Game 1 in Tampa Bay, Boston clobbered Tampa in Game 2. Games 3 and 4 at Fenway were ones to remember, as Boston walked off in style in both games to win. Tampa Bay, who won 100 games this season, head home early after having an amazing 2021 season.

The 2021 postseason has been one to remember so far. Other than Boston moving on, the Dodgers and Giants have been putting on quite a show in their own series. The Braves and Brewers have also been battling it out in hopes of making it to the World Series. The other American League series, Astros vs White Sox has been interesting to watch as well. Currently, Boston has been the only team to advance to the next round.

The Red Sox Take Down The Rays In Glorious Fashion

After their epic win vs the Yankees on Tuesday night, the Red Sox went down to Tampa Bay to face the Rays. After losing 5-0 in Game 1, Game 2 saw the Red Sox offense explode. Homeruns by five players, including JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts propelled the Red Sox to a 14-6 victory over the Rays. Following that win, they headed home to where the Fenway Faithful was waiting for them.

Game 3 had a little bit of everything from a ground rule double off of Hunter Renfroe, to Christian Vazquez’s walk off home run in the 13th inning. The momentum from that game continued in Game 4. This game was extremely special to the Red Sox, as it was also Marathon Monday. Before the game, 2013 World Series Champion, Will Middlebrooks took the mound to throw out the first pitch. From there, the offense came to life. After a back and forth battle with Tampa, Kike Hernandez became the hero.

With 2 on and 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, Hernandez had one job as he came up to bat. With Danny Santana on third, all he needed was a single to win the game. On a 0-1 count, Hernandez hit a fly ball to Austin Meadows. As the ball landed in his glove, Santana tagged up. As the throw came to the plate, Santana scored the winning run. Once again, the Red Sox take down the Rays in walk off fashion in Game 4. Now, they wait to see who they will play next.

What’s Next For Boston?

Right now, the Astros are up, 2 games to 1. After being rained out Monday in Chicago, the Astros will look to close out their series vs the White Sox on Tuesday afternoon. If the White Sox win however, then Game 5 will be back in Houston on Wednesday. Houston took games 1 and 2 at Minute Maid Park. Game 3 in Chicago turned into a slugfest for the White Sox, as they held onto one more day in the Postseason. The White Sox look to carry that momentum into game 4. Due to the rainout on Monday, they will take on the Astros on Tuesday afternoon.

If the Astros advance to the ALCS, this will be the third time Boston will face Houston in the playoffs. The first time was in the 2017 ALDS, when Houston won 3 games to 1. The last time was in the 2018 ALCS, which saw the Red Sox beat the Astros 4 games to 1. The last time the Red Sox and White Sox battled in the playoffs was back in 2005. Chicago not only swept Boston in the ALDS, but went onto win their first World Series Championship in 88 years.

The National League Side of Things…

The National League Division series has been one to remember. On one end, you have the Braves and the Brewers. On the other, are the Giants and the Dodgers. Currently, both Atlanta and San Francisco are positioned to win their respective series. Game 4 for these teams will be played on Tuesday, as the Braves look to close it out at home, and the Giants look to end the Dodgers season in Los Angeles.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Brewers beat the Braves in Game 1, Atlanta came back and shut out the Brewers in Games 2 and 3. Now, they are one win away from moving onto the NLCS for the second consecutive year. As for the battle of the West, the Giants are one win away from knocking out the 2020 World Series Champion LA Dodgers. After a 1-0 victory at Dodger Stadium last night, the 2014 World Series Champions are looking to go back to the NLCS for the first time since 2014. The Dodgers are looking to head back to the NLCS and defend their title.

The National League Championship Series will begin on October 16th. Will the Giants and Braves be able to win on Tuesday, or will the Dodgers and Brewers force a game 5? Either way, it will be fun to see these four teams continue the fight this postseason.

Baseball Season Preview: Who Plays In 2019 Fall Classic?

The magazine Sports Illustrated, also known as SI, publishes an annual baseball season preview. In addition to the MLB, it produces season previews for several other major sports, such as the NBA, NFL, and FIFA World Cup. The cover athlete of the piece is the feature’s most celebrated achievement, and is supposed to symbolize the value of that player and his/her team heading into that particular season. In some years, the publication’s choice strikes luck. In others, their choice becomes almost laughable by season’s end.

In March 2007, the magazine selected Red Sox’s starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka asBaseball Season their cover athlete. The Japanese right-hander had just signed a $52 million, six-year contract and had not yet pitched in the MLB. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting that year. More importantly, the Red Sox won the World Series. With the 2019 regular season set to begin tomorrow in Tokyo, here is a breakdown of each division’s expectations for 2019, followed by playoff predictions.

AL East – The Red Sox are the two-time reigning division champs. Boston’s outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts were featured on SI‘s Baseball Season Preview in 2017. The Yankees have two straight seasons of 90-plus wins. Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were the centerpiece on the SI‘s Baseball Season Preview last year. The Rays have two straight seasons of 80-plus wins. The Blue Jays should win more games than last year’s 73 with a balanced lineup and better starting pitching depth. The Orioles are in a complete rebuild and should finish close to the bottom of the league. Prediction? Yankees win first division title since 2012 and Red Sox finish second to secure Wild Card berth.

AL Central – The Indians have finished on top of the Central for the last three seasons. Their ace Corey Kluber and former outfielder Michael Brantley were highlighted on SI‘s Baseball Season Preview in 2015. The Twins have finished three of the past four seasons with at least 78 wins. The Tigers, White Sox, and Royals are all in flux, rebuilding, and are destined to finish at the bottom of the division again. Prediction? With Minnesota adding Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, C.J. Cron, Marwin Gonzalez, and Michael Pineda since last season, expect them to be neck and neck with the Indians all the way down to the wire. The Twins will edge out the Indians by a hair.

AL West – This is one of the more underrated divisions in baseball. The Astros have two consecutive 100-win seasons, have played in two consecutive ALCS series, and won the World Series in 2017. The Athletics increased their win total by 22 games last year and made the playoffs as a wild card team. The Mariners won 89 games last season, but missed a postseason berth by eight games. The Angels, who have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, have neither improved nor worsened in the past two years, as their record has stayed locked at 80-82. And the Rangers record has been in decline for three straight seasons. Prediction? Houston finishes the season with their third consecutive division title and 100-win season. The Angels sneak into October baseball for their first playoff appearance since 2014.

Fun fact: the first athlete to appear on the cover of SI‘s Baseball Season Preview was Giants center fielder Willie Mays in 1955.

NL East – The Atlanta Braves surprised nearly everyone last year and won the NL East. It was a down year for the Washington Nationals, as they finished with their worst record since 2011. In opposition, the Phillies exceed expectations by winning 80 games for the first time since 2012. The Mets finished fourth in the division in 2018 and have just two winning seasons in the past ten years. Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, former starter Matt Harvey, and relief pitcher Jeurys Familia were all chosen to represent SI‘s Baseball Season Preview in 2016. The Marlins have nine consecutive losing seasons. Prediction? The Phillies added five All-Star players this off-season: Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and David Robertson. That should be enough to win the division and secure their first playoff berth in eight years. Both the Braves and Nationals secure Wild Card berths.

NL Central – This is another division that gets overlooked. The Milwaukee Brewers won 96 wins in 2018 and captured the National League’s best record. They came within one game of a trip to the World Series. The Cubs were a playoff team for the fourth successive season. St. Louis finished with their eleventh winning season in a row, however, missed the postseason for the third straight time. Pittsburgh went 82-79 and missed the playoffs, even after acquiring All-Star starting pitcher Chris Archer at the Trade Deadline. And the Reds finished with less than 70 wins for the fourth go around in a row. Prediction? The Cubbies take back the division and win the NL Central for the third time in four years.

NL West – L.A. has held down the West for six years running. They are also the only team to have made it to the Fall Classic in each of the past two seasons. The Rockies have been sneaky good, making the postseason in both 2017 and 2018. The Diamondbacks begin a new era after trading away six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals. Seems to make sense after Arizona won just a single playoff game since Goldschmidt became an everyday player in 2012. After winning it all in 2010, 2012, and 2014, San Francisco has won just two playoff games since. San Diego came away with arguably the franchise’s best signing this off-season, Manny Machado, but still face an upward climb. They have not made the postseason since 2006. Prediction? Colorado surprises everyone and wins their first ever NL West title since the team’s inception in 1993.

AL Wild Card Game: Angels @ Red Sox

NL Wild Card Game: Nationals @ Braves

ALDS: Red Sox – Astros; Twins – Yankees

NLDS: Nationals – Cubs; Rockies – Phillies

ALCS: Yankees – Astros

NLCS: Phillies – Cubs

World Series: Cubs – Astros

 

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.