Sep 21, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) celebrates his grand slam against the Tampa Bay Rays with center fielder Mookie Betts (50), second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) and right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (R) during the eighth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Red Sox are riding a season-high five-game winning streak. They have gone 16-10 in the month of September to pull themselves out of the basement of the AL East, climbing all the way to third place for the first time since May. Boston is playing better than they have all season.
Except it doesn’t matter… because they are now eliminated from postseason contention. The Red Sox are 6 games back in the Wild Card race with only 5 games left to play. Boston is now officially mathematically eliminated.
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We accepted long ago that this team making the playoffs wasn’t going to be in the cards this season, but you have to admire the valiant effort. If the Red Sox manage to win 4 of their remaining 5 games they will finish the season with a .500 record. It’s not nearly as rewarding as earning a trip to the playoffs, but avoiding a losing record and last place finish for the third time in four years remains a meaningful goal.
The bottom of the division is still as close as can be, with Baltimore trailing by a mere half game and Tampa Bay lurking at only one game back. The slightest stumble could send Boston spiraling back to the bottom, so the Red Sox can’t rest on the accomplishment of vaulting over their divisional foes just yet.
Regardless of what their record ends up at, Red Sox fans can take solace in the progress this team has shown in the second half. The pitching staff looked disastrous a couple months ago, but has performed much better in the second half, thanks in part to a pair of rookies that should remain key pieces in the rotation for years to come. Meanwhile, the emergence of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart solidifies a strong core for the future.
When we look back at this 2015 season, hopefully it won’t be to remember the disappointment of failed expectations. Instead, let’s remember it as the beginning of a new era for the Red Sox where we first began to see this young talent bloom. This season may not have worked out as planned, but the future remains bright.