Earlier in the season, the Rays had played the Red Sox very tough and shown that they were not an easy team to face despite their record. As the season has gone on, however, the Red Sox have beaten up on them more and more to the point that it basically feels like an automatic win every time they play them. (I realize a large reason for this is the number of good players Tampa has traded in the last year). In this second game of the series Boston had David Price going up against the team he made his major league debut with. Given how well he's been pitching lately, it looked like it should be another win the Sox should easily cruise to.
Even though the Red Sox had Thursday off, we still got to see Mookie Betts up close and personal. That’s because my son and oldest daughter attended his baseball clinic and got to meet Mookie, take a photo with him, and work on baseball drills with him. They had a blast and I think I had as much fun watching them for the entire afternoon as they did playing. Mookie seemed like a genuinely nice guy and the fact that he had his parents there hanging out with him the whole day said a lot to me about what type of person he is. At least I know how he spent his day off, right? On Friday, the Sox got back down to business at home when they started a new series against Tampa Bay. The Rays had just taken two of three from the Yankees and helped us add a half game to the division lead so now it was Boston’s turn against this pesky team.
The Pawtucket Red Sox announced yesterday that the team will be moving to Worcester, Massachusetts for the 2021 baseball season. I don’t know much about the political process which brought the AAA affiliate of the BoSox to “The Heart of The Commonwealth,” but for me, this is kind of crappy news. Growing up and residing in Southeastern Massachusetts, Pawtucket was actually a closer jaunt to see some professional ball than driving up 93 North to Boston.
Sidenote...Is there ever NOT traffic in Quincy? It could be 3 AM on a Saturday morning and Quincy’s like “Nope, still traffic.” What the hell man? I need one of these:
The Phillies are good this year, but are they really good enough to play the Red Sox to a draw? Yes, they're in first place in the NL East, but the NL is down across the board this year when compared to the AL and overall the best teams in the AL are much better than the best teams in the NL. Still, to this point the two teams have scored five runs apiece against each other and the Red Sox have won two of the three games. The final game between the two squads looked to be another close affair but I was hopeful that Boston could eke out a win and sweep this two game set.
Both the Red Sox and I had rest days yesterday. For them, it was a much needed break in the middle of a long season; for me, it was the first official day of my vacation and my first day back in my native New Hampshire in over a year. Being back in the heart of Red Sox Nation meant I was surrounded by like minded Sox fanatics so after the day off, I couldn't wait for the team to get back in action with this short two game series against the Phillies. While I hate interleague play (I think I've mentioned that once or twice, no?) I was curious to see how the Sox would fare. The last two games against Philadelphia that were played in Boston back in July ended in a series split with two low scoring games. I wanted to see if those were just flukes or if there was more to Philly than I had previously thought.
Having taken the first three games of this series over the last two days, the Red Sox were in prime position to sweep the Orioles. Chris Sale was making his return to the rotation after being on the DL the last two weeks with mild shoulder inflammation and all eyes were on him and how he would pitch. There had been some concern over whether this was his usual wearing down toward the end of the regular season and what this would mean for his effectiveness in the postseason. What better way to ease back into the swing of things than an afternoon start against the woeful Orioles? The caliber of opponent aside, it turned out that the rest may have been exactly what Sale needed.
Well folks, it's JD Martinez' world...we're all just living in it. After taking the early game in this doubleheader, the Red Sox were trying to sweep the day and win the series by taking the first three games against the Orioles. With Hector Velazquez getting the start and recent call up Dan Butler starting at catcher to give Sandy Leon some much needed rest, it wouldn't have been at all surprising if the Sox dropped this game and split the twin bill. But as we've seen time and again with this team in 2018, there is no quit in them no obstacle seems too insurmountable for them to overcome. Leading the way was the best slugger in the league who put the Sox on his back and delivered when it mattered most.
This Red Sox team has been so good all season that we just expect them to win every game. Over the course of my entire life I can't remember a Sox team this good where I felt it was just a given that they were going to win every time they took the field. The 2004 team, as great as they were, didn't feel like that because of the historical baggage the franchise still carried. The 2007 and 2013 teams were excellent but even they didn't have the swagger and aura that this year's squad has. The only problem is that when they lose, it's almost a shock to the system. After taking the first two games against Toronto and clinching a win in this series it seemed like a foregone conclusion that they'd go for the sweep, especially with Rick Porcello on the mound. Coming off of his best start of the season, everything was in place for a third straight win over the Jays, but as we all know there's a reason why the games are played on the field.
Besides some shaky performances from the Red Sox bullpen in recent games, it’s hard to complain about a team that has 81 wins on August 9th. The Sox are coming fresh off a four game sweep of the Yankees, and have only lost four games since the All-Star break. Now, although any sort of monumental collapse is highly unlikely, anyone walking into that clubhouse with a bucket of Popeye’s and a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon needs to be designated for assignment on the spot (except for Sandy Leon...that just seems like it’s probably his go to fare on most occasions). 2011’s Chicken and Beergate was a sad, tortuous anomaly, so I’m pretty confident we can start whispering about the Sox’ possible matchups come October. If the season ended today, The Sox, Indians, and Astros would win their divisions, with the Yankees and A’s in the two Wild Card spots, battling for a chance to compete in the ALDS. If this scenario stands, and the Red Sox do indeed hold the best record in the American League, they will be playing the winner of the Wild Card Game. And we better hope and pray the Yankees beat the A’s.
After a sweep of the Yankees and a day off, the big question in my mind was how the Red Sox would come back to begin their latest road trip in Toronto. There was definitely a chance for a letdown after the emotional high of this past weekend. Speaking of letdowns, did I mention Drew Pomeranz got the start for game one against the Blue Jays? Uninspiring to watch when he's at his best, it's been borderline torture to watch him pitch this season. After his less than impressive previous start (and that's being kind), I was bracing myself for the latest chapter of the Drew Pomeranz experience. Lucky for him, there's a hell of team behind him because they needed every bit of that talent against the pesky Jays.