Boston Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez confident about ALDS comeback

Mar 28, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) works out prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) works out prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Boston Red Sox on the brink of elimination in the ALDS, Hanley Ramirez remains confident that this series isn’t over yet.

Apparently home-field advantage in the postseason does matter. The Boston Red Sox went on cruise control in the final week of the season after locking up the AL East division title, surrendering an edge to their opponent in the opening round by allowing the series to begin in Cleveland.

There was a lack of urgency to improve their playoff seeding down the stretch or build any momentum heading into the division series. The Red Sox were sleep walking into the playoffs and now they are paying for it. After Game 2 ended with Boston being shutout for only the seventh time in a postseason game in franchise history, the Red Sox find themselves in a deep hole as they limp back home to Fenway Park.

With the season on the line, the Red Sox turn their hopes to the enigmatic Clay Buchholz to save them in Game 3, the thought of which is enough to churn the stomachs of an uneasy fanbase. If Boston loses on Sunday they will join the 1995, 2005 and 2009 teams as the fourth in franchise history to be swept in the division series.

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Even if the Red Sox rally to avoid the embarrassment of a sweep, the odds are severely stacked against them coming back to win the series. In the history of the best-of-five ALDS, teams are 46-7 in winning the series after taking the first two games. Those odds don’t exactly inspire confidence.

Just don’t tell that to Hanley Ramirez. He doesn’t care what the odds are or what the history books say. As poorly as the team played in the first two games of this series, the Red Sox first baseman remains confident that the team will turn it around in the comforts of their own ballpark.

"“You better book a ticket,” Ramirez told reporters after the Game 2 loss in Cleveland. “Game 5 will be back here.”"

While many will roll their eyes at Ramirez’s bravado, his prediction may not be as far fetched as you think. Sure, history tells us that teams facing these same odds almost never win, but this Red Sox franchise is the owner of two of those seven comebacks from down 0-2 in the division series. Boston knows a thing or two about defying the odds with a dramatic comeback, so we can never count out this team.

In order to brings this series back to Cleveland for a Game 5, the Red Sox first need to take care of business in the two games at home. Luckily there are reasons for optimism here.

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Obviously the Red Sox play better at home, but the difference-maker is how far the Indians drop off outside of their own ballpark, where they were barely above .500 in the regular season. Cleveland scored the second most runs in the league this year, but were near the bottom of the league in scoring on the road. This lineup may have thrashed Boston’s pair of aces at Progressive Field, but they aren’t nearly as intimidating when forced to take their act on the road.

As worried as Red Sox Nation may be leaving their playoff hopes in the hands of Buchholz, Cleveland can’t feel any more confident in Josh Tomlin. The 31-year old crashed back to Earth after a strong first half to finish with numbers more in line with his rather mediocre career.

A Red Sox lineup that rarely strikes out was abused by Cleveland pitchers for a staggering 22 punch-outs in the first two games of this series. That won’t be as much of a concern against Tomlin, who ranked 35th out of the 39 qualified AL starters with a 6.10 K/9 rate. He uses a pitch-to-contact approach, but much of that contact is of the hard variety, as he allowed the second most home runs in the league with 36. Tomlin is a poor fit to match up against this Red Sox lineup and could be just what this team needs to spark their offense.

If the Red Sox survive Game 3 then they’ll get another shot at beating Trevor Bauer, who pitched just well enough to win Game 1 by allowing three runs over 4 2/3 innings. Do we really expect him to do any better at Fenway, where he is unlikely to receive the same level of run support? Advantage once again goes to Boston.

Maybe Ramirez’s prediction wasn’t crazy talk after all, as it seems reasonable that the Red Sox can bounce back to win both games at Fenway. However, Hanley’s crystal ball fell short of predicting that the team would actually win Game 5 if they do indeed get there.

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Given how terrible this team has looked in all aspects of the game in this series, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they wouldn’t be massive underdogs in a deciding game in Cleveland. The series may not be over quite yet, but winning a couple of games at home may merely be delaying the inevitable.