3 Reasons why the Red Sox are not going to the World Series

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 30: Manager Alex Cora #13 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 30, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 30: Manager Alex Cora #13 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 30, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers
ST PETERSBURG, FL – OCTOBER 08: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox hits a two run home run during the eighth inning of game two of the 2021 American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on October 8, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Red Sox offense disappeared

While the Red Sox pitching had been decent for most of the postseason, it was the offense that had carried the team. When the pitching surrendered six runs in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays, the offense stepped up and scored 14 runs. And after they blew 4-2 and 5-0 leads in Games 3 and 4, the offense showed up again by delivering walk-off hits in both of those.

In the ALCS, they would pick up right where they left off, scoring 25 runs in the first three including 12 in a Game 3 victory where they set a postseason record for most grand slams in a postseason series.

The Astros appeared to be in trouble as well. Their ace, Lance McCullers, had been ruled out for the series due to injury and after exiting early from Game 2, it appeared Luis Garcia would be unavailable for the rest of the season. Due to Garcia’s injury, the Astros also had to burn their Game 3 starter, Jake Odorizzi in order to do some mop up work in Game 2. This led yours truly and many others to believe that the Red Sox had taken the pitching advantage in the series. 

This ultimately turned out to be a false belief as the Astros would find the key to taming the Red Sox offense: throw strikes. One of the few weaknesses of this Red Sox offense during the regular season had been their tendency to swing at pitches out of the strike zone. Heading into the month of September, Boston had chased an MLB worst 31% of pitches out of the strike zone.

But once the postseason started, they flipped the switch. The team collectively decided to take a more patient approach at the plate and it worked. Opposing pitchers threw pitches outside of the strike zone expecting the Red Sox to chase them. The Sox laid off those pitches leading to more walks as well as hitters counts.

The best example of this being Game 2 of the ALCS when Garcia walked three batters in the first two innings, all three of which came around to score on grand slams from JD Martinez and Rafael Devers. In Game 3, Jose Urquidy walked two batters in the bottom of the 2nd inning before surrendering the record breaking grand slam to Kyle Schwarber.

However, beginning in Game 5, the Astros began a new approach of pounding the strike zone early in the count, decreasing the chances of a walk and leading to more pitcher’s counts. In Game 5, Astros starter Framber Valdez fired first pitch strikes to 17 of the 27 batters he faced and only walked one batter over 8 innings.

The most dramatic turnaround came from their Game 6 starter Luis Garcia who after getting pounded in Game 2, mostly due to his erratic control, threw first pitch strikes to 12 of the 20 batters he faced and walked only one batter over 5.2 innings pitched. And it worked. Over the final two games of the ALCS the Red Sox scored a combined one run.

Next. Biggest "What Ifs" of the Red Sox postseason. dark