The Red Sox looked pretty good going into the postseason a couple of weeks ago. They rode an 11-game winning streak to soon win the AL East. The starting pitching was finally coming together. The bullpen, for the most part, pulled itself together. The offense came back to life, as a whole. John Farrell was making smart, consistent decisions. Everyone was doing their part, and things were falling right into place.
Stuff started to get ugly in their final six games of the regular season. Their unbelievable winning streak came to an end against New York, but nobody was panicking. Then, Boston proceeded to lose five of their last six games. The Red Sox had already clinched a playoff berth and the East, so fans didn’t look much into it.
Then comes Thursday, Game 1 of the ALDS. Porcello’s on the mound, and everything just feels right. The team looks and feels confident. Boston gets an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the next inning, Porcello allows Cleveland to tie it up. No biggie. Proceeding that, Andrew Benintendi hits a go-ahead home run in his first major league postseason at-bat. 2-1 heading to the bottom of the third. Porcello then gives up three solo shots in the inning, turning everything upside down. This was the turning point of the series.
Porcello had been the ace all season long. We know that, and we expected this to carry over into the postseason, rightfully so. I had a slight feeling that Porcello would choke in the playoffs, but I didn’t want to believe it. He ultimately lost the Red Sox this game. Porcello had little command to any of his pitches, which is very unusual for him. He went 4.1 IP, gave up six hits, gave up five runs, three home runs, and also HBP. The two numbers that stick out most are innings pitched and that HBP. It’s almost a guarantee that Porcello goes at least seven every start, and he never hits batters. Something was very, very off for him on Thursday night.
The offense had a pretty good game, hitting three home runs, scoring four total runs on 10 hits. That should win you the game 10 out of 10 times, especially when a guy the likes of 2016 Rick Porcello is on the mound. Pedroia, Betts, Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. all went hitless, too, which is notable. When those four guys in particular aren’t hitting, it’s going to be fatal.
The man that really stands out is Bogaerts. Ever since the second half began, Bogaerts has been brutal at the plate. He can’t refrain from swinging at terrible pitches, usually in the dirt, and sometimes away. Apparently, coaches have tried to work with him on this problem, but not much progress has been made. I don’t know if these last few months can be called a slump. Most Red Sox fans dread having Bogey batting, at this point. Many want him benched.
As if Game 1 wasn’t bad enough, let’s talk about Game 2. Our “ace”, David Price, got the start in this one. Everyone knows Price is 0-7 in postseason starts. Myself and others believed that this would be the turning point and he’d throw a gem. That was, in fact, not the case. Price got off to a great start, throwing only eight pitches in a 1-2-3 first inning. Things were looking good. Then comes the bottom of the second inning. Price allowed four runs in this one inning. He gave up a three-run liner home run by Lonnie Chisenhall that barely got out in the blink of an eye. Price’s playoff woes are only continuing. His stat line for the night: 3.1 IP, six hits, five runs, two walks and a home run. Similar numbers to Porcello’s outing the night before.
It wasn’t just Price that sucked, though he did his team no favors. The offense was dead cold Friday night. Pedroia, Ortiz, Ramirez, Benintendi, Leon and Bradley all went hitless in Game 2, again, not doing their team any favors. Boston didn’t score once and only recorded three hits. They opposed an injured Corey Kluber, who of course, tossed a shutout win. The Red Sox offense was the best in all of baseball in the regular season. They seemed to have forgotten to bring their bats along with them into the postseason.
One individual who hasn’t screwed over his team (yet) is none other than John Farrell. Rather surprisingly, he’s managed his bullpen correctly, has taken out pitchers and/or put in necessary pitchers when needed to and at the right time. He hasn’t had issues with pinch runners yet, and really hasn’t made questionable decisions in this series. If there’s any positive to the Red Sox right now, it’s Farrell. Didn’t think I’d be saying those words any time soon.
The blame cannot be placed on one or two individuals. The blame can be tossed around for the entire roster, unfortunately. Almost every player has made a costly mistake, or just hasn’t performed at all. There’s no excuse. Guys aren’t stepping up when they need to step up, it’s as simple as that. The Red Sox could and should have easily won both of these games, but they haven’t shown much effort.
Game 3 is Sunday at Fenway, with Clay Buchholz starting. It isn’t totally reassuring to know that the Red Sox season lies in the hands of Buchholz, but anything can happen. Boston has one more shot to keep their season alive. Everyone knows what they need to do. Ortiz can’t go out this way, and everybody knows that. It all comes down to putting their best foot forward and just performing. If the last two games weren’t must-win enough, the season comes down to this. All I can say is: keep the faith.