Boston Red Sox clinch ALDS with consecutive walk-off wins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 11: Enrique Hernandez #5 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates his game winning sacrifice fly in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 11, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 11: Enrique Hernandez #5 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates his game winning sacrifice fly in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 11, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Red Sox clinched the ALDS on a pair of walk-offs

The Boston Red Sox are advancing to the American League Championship Series! After getting shut out to open the series, Boston broke out their big bats for a decisive victory in Game 2 to split the games in Tampa Bay. The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park where they clinched the series in dramatic fashion.

The Boston Marathon was held on Monday but the Red Sox and Rays gave us a preview with a 13-inning marathon on Sunday. Christian Vazquez blasted a walk-off homer into the Monster Seats to give Boston a 2-1 series lead. Vazquez is only the eighth catcher in MLB history and the second Red Sox catcher to hit a walk-off home run in a postseason game.

We didn’t need to wait quite as long Monday night but the game still came down to the wire with another thrilling Red Sox walk-off. A pair of singles put runners on the corners with one out, setting up a game-winning sac fly from Kike Hernandez.

Hernandez had an outstanding series, going 9-for-20 with two home runs and six RBI. It was fitting that he was the one to drive in the run that clinched the series.

The Red Sox are the second team in MLB history to clinch a postseason series with back-to-back walk-off wins, joining the 1991 Minnesota Twins when they won the World Series.

The last team to clinch a playoff series with consecutive walk-off wins was the 2004 Red Sox when they defeated the New York Yankees in Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS. As you may recall, those wins started a rally after the Red Sox has fallen behind 3-0 in the series, setting up a historic comeback that vaulted Boston into the Wold Series where they claimed the franchise’s first championship in 86 years.

Alex Cora is 5-0 as manager in potential postseason series clinching games dating back to the championship run in 2018. That’s the most wins without a loss for a manager in that scenario in baseball history.

Boston finished in last place in the AL East during the dismal shortened season in 2020. This is the fourth time that an MLB team has reached the LCS the season after finishing last in their division. The last team to accomplish this was the 2013 Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series.

Is history about to repeat itself? There are plenty of comparisons we can make between this team and the 2013 club, including a massive payroll cut that cleared the way to restructure the roster around key role players who turned the franchise around quicker than anyone could have imagined.

Many predicted the Red Sox to finish fourth in their division prior to this season. They held a share of first place for a good portion of the summer and stood on top of the AL East as recently as July 30 but few viewed them as a true contender. Even when they held on to a Wild Card spot throughout most of September, a parade of pessimists kept expecting them to blow it.

This is a team that far too many were unwilling to believe in. Now they are heading to the ALCS to compete for the pennant. No matter what happens from here, the Red Sox have exceeded our expectations to make this season a success.

Next. Ortiz reacts to Game 4. dark

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