The Boston Red Sox now move forward to the ultimate goal of a World Series title. A quick look back on the ALCS and another quick look forward to the WS.
By the end of October we will know if the Boston Red Sox season is a success, but what will be of moderate interest is the weather. Boston in late October is certainly not to be confused with Montego Bay. In Milwaukee they have a retractable dome at Miller Park and Los Angeles is usually rather warm, but wear your smog mask.
The enjoyable part of time off before the World Series begins is the healing process. Both Eduardo Nunez and Mitch Moreland are recovering from leg issues and then there is Chris Sale. However, they wish to frame his “stomach ailment” we have all regrettably been there. The more time off the better will be Sale’s strength.
Sale will start the first game of the World Series since manager Alex Cora has already gone on record that the ace will be ready and get the ball. I could be tempted to give Sale a bit more rest and line him up for Game 2 and therefore possibly Game 7. Then again – that is why my managerial career stopped at youth baseball.
A future statistician will look at the ALCS batting averages and see that MVP Jackie Bradley hit just .200. Then – hopefully – they will mine deeper and discover three of the most significant hits in Red Sox postseason history. As the saying goes about three types of lies: “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
The Red Sox will be the favorites in the World Series, but not overwhelming favorites. As Ron Darling – everyone’s favorite baseball announcer – stated the Red Sox are unrelenting on offense. And the offense really operated without the expected contributions of Mookie Betts. Betts has done little in postseason activity hitting just .231 in 16 games with a mere three RBI.
Just where does David Price fit into the postseason rotation? My assumption is Price gets the ball for game two at Fenway Park especially after his six shutout innings in the clincher. Price has a career 26-7 record and 3.08 ERA at Fenway Park. Price also has the incentive of forever putting a muffler on dissenters such as myself with another great start and win.
Defense is often overlooked in the playoffs, but in the Houston series it came up big for both teams. Andrew Benintendi had the most impactful of plays but was certainly not alone as Houston’s Alex Bregman put on a defensive exhibition at third. So much for Bregman’s rather ordinary metrics.
Houston had some level of enjoyment with a compilation of Nathan Eovaldi‘s four home runs allowed game against the Astros. That, quite naturally, blew up in their face, but it was an enjoyable bit of gamesmanship.
There will be two reminders of postseason possibilities with the first being the Brewers. Travis Shaw will be on display and Tyler Thornburg will be watching and for Thornburg, his Red Sox career is in peril. And for LA there was talk during the season of trading Bradley for Yasiel Puig. Now a Puig-Bradley comparison can take place.
Houston’s starting pitching was supposed to be a real difference maker and even postseason legend Justin Verlander got a rare elimination game loss. Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and Dallas Keuchel seemed just ordinary as the Red Sox wore them down.
The only significant meltdowns for the Red Sox were closer Craig Kimbrel and one awful relief effort by Brandon Workman. Cora certainly is a gambler with rolling Kimbrel out for game five after a near disaster in game four. Kimbrel had a rather inauspicious beginning with a three-pitch strikeout, a four-pitch walk, and another three-pitch strikeout before a long fly ball finished off Houston.
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I would prefer the Red Sox to play the Dodgers simply over the historical value of playing against one of the flagship franchises of baseball. No disrespect intended to the Brewers, but they just don’t instill in me the same excitement quotient.
Good pitching stops good hitting and apparently, even average pitching stops good hitting. The Red Sox hit just .233 as a team with five home runs and 27 RBI. Houston hit a mere .219 with six home runs and 21 RBI. The standout for Boston other than Bradley was Rafael Devers who hit .385. Red Sox may have to live with his questionable defense in the WS.
The Red Sox staff was still in walk mode with 25 walks in 45 innings. The two main culprits were Kimbrel (4) and Matt Barnes (4) in just 8.1 innings. Eventually, the bill will become due with too many walks.
The Red Sox this century have owned the World Series with two sweeps and one six-game championship. Of course, almost all the players from 2013 are now elsewhere, but I would certainly enjoy seeing history repeat itself.
Does inter-league play give any hints? The Brewers were 13-7 and the Dodgers were 12-8 in the inter-league contests. The Red Sox have treated the National League with abuse season after season and 16-4 in 2018 shows that was no exception. And home and road for all three teams are excellent with the Brewers 45-37 on the road and Blue is 47-34. You don’t get this far being one-dimensional.
Red Sox in six.