Let me start by saying I want the Red Sox to have the best record and earn home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs.
But in case they can’t wrap things up in these last three games let’s not act like the sky is falling and that the Sox playoff hopes are doomed. They can still win in the playoffs without it.
They’ll have home field in the ALDS regardless of opponent. Should they make it to the World Series, the AL has home field due to the All-Star game win by the junior circuit in the mid-summer classic.
So we’re only talking about one possible series, the ALCS, in which the Sox would not have home field. In the end it would mean they’d have to win one Game 7 on the road if the series goes full.
Frankly, I like their chances. They are 43-35 on the road coming into this weekend so they are confident in the enemy’s quarters this season.
Plus this franchise has a history of coming through on the road in elimination games. Think 1986 Game 5 ALCS vs California (the Dave Henderson game); 2003 ALDS Game 5 vs Oakland; 2004 ALCS Game 6 and 7 vs New York and 2007 ALCS Game 5 vs Cleveland (the Josh Beckett game.) All elimination games and all wins.
OK, I know that this is an entirely different team and that there IS bad history such as 1986 World Series Game 6 and 7 vs the Mets and 2008 ALCS vs Tampa Bay.
But if we go by the history of other major league teams to measure their playoff success and failure then we have to do the same for the Red Sox. And right now their recent history is more good than bad.
Yes, losing out on best record would likely mean a best-of-five ALDS match up with the Detroit Tigers. And it’s true the Sox were 3-4 vs the Tigers this year.
But they were a Jhonny Peralta steroid induced, walk-off homer off Andrew Bailey away from winning 4 of 7. Plus, they have beaten Max Scherzer once this season and it appears Miguel Cabrera, the key to the entire Tigers lineup, is battling injuries and not at full strength. Additionally, Justin Verlander has been a bit off this season. If you’re going to play Detroit in a short series, this is the time to do it. As good as they are, they have some holes.
If the Sox end up playing Oakland in the ALCS, at the giant lavatory known as Oakland Coliseum, they will not be intimidated. There are too many gritty veterans in the Sox clubhouse for that. I believe they’ll find a way to win as they have all season and they’ll have the added confidence of having just beaten Detroit.
I also don’t think the A’s are as good as the Tigers. The A’s have had a steady diet of games vs the Astros, Mariners and Angels this year to fatten up their record. Again, they should be respected but beating them in a Game 7 on the road is not impossible.
Of course, we’d all prefer that the A’s and Tigers meet in the ALDS and soften each other up for Boston. And we’d all feel better with any Games 6 and 7 at Fenway. But if that doesn’t happen, all won’t be lost. If the Sox have a championship pedigree this year where they play won’t matter.
But as I write this, the Sox may be making all of this moot as they are pounding the Orioles in game one of the final series of the year 8-2 AT Baltimore. If they hold on the magic number for home field is one.