There seems to be a perception that the Red Sox declined this year with the absence of retired icon David Ortiz. While the offense generated fewer runs and there was a clear lack of pop in the lineup, these setbacks did little to change the outcome. Boston still matched their 2016 win total with 93 to secure their second consecutive AL East division title.
It came down to the final day of September against a Houston Astros team they were destined to meet in the postseason days later. Drew Pomeranz spun six innings of one-run ball while his offense piled up six runs of support. When the Astros mounted a seventh-inning rally, David Price entered from the bullpen to shut down their hopes by retiring all three batters he faced.
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Mookie Betts tacked on another run with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning to keep the lead out of reach. That home run would be his team-leading 24th of the season.
With the division and their playoff seeding locked up, Boston was able to rest Chris Sale for the final game of the regular season. The Red Sox rolled out a B Squad lineup for the season finale, favoring rest over momentum.
Was that the reason why the Red Sox lost in the ALDS to this same Astros team? Of course not. It turns out this Houston team is really good! Yet dropping three out of four at Fenway to the team they would face in the playoffs couldn’t have been a confidence booster.