Red Sox Season Recap

Published 1 year ago -

By Kyle Sorgi, Staff Writer

If you’re a Red Sox fan—or a fan of Boston sports altogether—then you’re loving that dirty water right now as they compete in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Houston Astros. This season was a solid rebound compared to last year’s COVID-shortened campaign in which they finished 24-36, but it was also a rollercoaster ride if you followed them throughout their 92-70 regular season and ongoing postseason effort.

The season began on April 2 with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. This would typically be a cakewalk, except that the Orioles swept that series and, for a very short time, held first place in the American League (AL) East. After that, the Red Sox more than made up for it by following up the sweep with a season-long nine-game winning streak. The AL East was a four-horse race most of the year between the Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays, but it was the Sox and Rays that swapped control of the division through the first half of the season. Boston held a 1.5-game lead over the Rays by the time the All-Star Break arrived on July 11.

Shortly after the All-Star Break, the MLB Trade Deadline (July 30) served as a critical point in the season where teams either made business moves to address team needs and push for playoff contention or hit the reset button and focus on rebuilding for the future. This would have been the Red Sox’s time to enhance their pitching staff or find an upgrade at first base from Bobby Dalbec. However, they failed to do either to a significant extent. Their biggest deal brought in first baseman Kyle Schwarber from the Washington Nationals, who had a decent stint in D.C. but stirred several questions given the pool of other players on the trade block, his injured status at the time, and the moves that other MLB teams were making. In the AL East

alone, the Rays added a strong veteran presence by acquiring designated hitter Nelson Cruz, the Blue Jays bolstered their starting pitching rotation by snagging Jose Berrios, and the Yankees made multiple splashes by acquiring first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Joey Gallo (as if the Bronx Bombers didn’t have enough big bats in their lineup). The lack of any big moves and substantial fulfillment of team needs made the Red Sox look noncommittal towards building a championship-caliber roster with the resources at their disposal and having made other minor trades without reeling in a big-time player.

This inactivity immediately reflected in their performance, as they lost eleven out of fourteen games in a two-week stretch and fell behind in the AL East by as many as ten games. A subsequent 13-game winning streak by the Yankees compounded what felt like gashing wounds to a Boston team that needed to dig deep just to make the playoffs. Any shot of winning the AL East was officially stifled on September 25 by the Rays (who recorded their first 100-win season in franchise history with a 100-62 record). At the time, the red-hot Yankees and ice-cold Red Sox held the two Wild Card spots with tied records and the Blue Jays, Athletics, and Mariners right on their tails. Ownership of the top Wild Card spot (and ability to host the Wild Card game) was a topsy-turvy battle between both sides of MLB’s greatest rivalry of all-time. Entering the last day of the regular season, four teams were fighting for two spots, but Blue Jays and Mariners finished, respectively, one and two games behind the Wild Card-bound Sox and Yankees. The Red Sox owned the tiebreaker by winning the season series over the Yankees, 10-9, bringing the Wild Card Game to Yawkey Way and America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.

On October 5, the Fenway faithful loudly and proudly cheered for their Sox and booed the Yankees. The home team came out slugging with homeruns from shortstop Xander Bogaerts and first baseman Kyle Schwarber as the Red Sox offense forced an early Gerrit Cole departure after only two-plus innings. On the other hand, Nathan Eovaldi was a difference-maker for the

Sox, pitching 5 1/3 innings and only surrendering four hits and one run while recording eight strikeouts. Despite Giancarlo Stanton’s great performance (3-4 hitting with two near-homeruns off the Green Monster), Boston gutted out a 6-2 victory to eliminate the Yankees and set up a trip to Tropicana Field for game one of a best-of-five American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Rays.

Tampa Bay was the favorite entering the series given recent form and a more complete team on paper, but they had to prove that they were legitimate World Series contenders rather than pretenders. Game one didn’t defy anyone’s expectations when the Rays opened the series with a 5-0 victory. Game two was a shootout from the get-go as seven runs were scored in the first inning alone. Trailing 5-2, the Red Sox scored six runs before and after a singular Rays run in the sixth inning to secure a 14-6 win and bring a tied series back to the Bay State. Game three made the day before the Boston Marathon feel like another marathon by going thirteen innings. It felt like an eternity for both sides, who were using several pitchers just to extend and win the game despite there being another game the next day. An incredibly unlucky bounce on a ground-rule double by Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier prevented what would’ve been the leading run in a 4-4 deadlock in the thirteenth inning. Then, the magic came after Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, who did not enter the game until the sixth inning, sent a walk-off homerun over the Green Monster to give Boston a 2-1 series lead and a chance to clinch an ALCS birth the next day. Game four presented another tied score heading into the ninth inning, but extras were not necessary this time around after a walk-off sacrifice fly by Red Sox outfielder Kike Hernandez cemented a 6-5 game win and 3-1 series victory over the top-seeded Rays.

As I write this article, the Red Sox are currently in the ALCS against the Astros, who bested the Chicago White Sox in their ALDS series in four games. If the Red Sox did not get swept in this best-of-seven series, then their season is still going as you read this. (If they did get

swept, oh well). A Red Sox series victory over the Astros would provide an opportunity to win their first World Series title since 2018, and an appearance independent of the result would make them the fourteenth Wild Card team since 1997 to reach the World Series. Yankees fans won’t agree with me here, but I hope the Red Sox earn the opportunity to return to their former glory and defeat the Astros. (But either way, we beat the Yankees).

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