The Boston Red Sox are your 2016 American League East division champions. Let’s say that one more time; the Boston Red Sox are your 2016 American League East division champions. It just so happened that they clinched the division in the biggest mind-fuck of a game that I’ve seen in my entire life
To clinch the division on Wednesday night, the Red Sox needed a win or a Toronto loss. The Orioles did the Red Sox what turned out to be a huge favor by coming back and beating the Jays on a go ahead 9th inning home run by Hyun Soo Kim. However, when you take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th, you have to be able to lock down the win. Craig Kimbrel simply didn’t do his job, and Joe Kelly wasn’t able to limit the damage. This resulted in a Mark Texiera walk-off grand slam and a Red Sox loss. As a fan I didn’t know whether I wanted to break out the champagne and start partying, or bury my head in my pillow and cry myself to sleep. Based on the team's reaction, they felt the same way. Luckily, once the Red Sox got back to the clubhouse, John Farrell said something intelligent for the first time in his life.
Farrell told the team not to let one bad inning take away from the complete body of work that they have put forth this entire season that has resulted in the team going from worst to first once again. Once given permission by their manager, the team grabbed the bottles of champagne and followed Big Papi’s instructions to “POP THAT MOTHERFUCKER”. And the celebration was on.
There was really no point in time prior to the end of August where I actually thought that this team even had to a chance to win the division. When the offense produced, the starters would get shelled. When the starters has good outings, the offense wouldn’t show up. And when they offense and starting pitching both did their jobs, the bullpen would blow it. Toward the end of August, and even more so in the month of September, all 3 components of this team collectively began to click. This final month of the season has taught us just as much about this team than the first first 5 months combined.
We’ve learned that David Price isn’t a bust. Price went on a tear in which he won 7 consecutive starts.These 7 starts spanned over exactly one month from August 12 to September 12; a time period in which he went 7-0 with a 2.16 ERA. Those are the ace like stats we’ve been looking for all season. We learned that Andrew Benintendi’s early success was no fluke. Coming into Wednesday, Benny Baseball had been hitting .318 in 8 games since returning from his knee injury. That’s exactly what we want to see from Benny, and he has shown very few signs of slowing down. And yes, he is old enough to have a beer during the celebration. He may look like 14 year old, but he’s 22 and plays the game like a 10 year vet. On the other hand, we’ve learned that Yoan Moncada is not ready to be a Major League player. Following his call up, he has struggled mightily with breaking balls leading to a stretch in which he’s gone 0-9 with 9 K’s. I’m not ready to call him a career minor leaguer just yet, but he definitely needs some more time in the minors. Then of course there’s two things that we’ve known for a while now: Rick Porcello deserves to be the frontrunner the for Cy Young award, and Mookie Betts deserves to be the frontrunner the for the MVP award. If you disagree then you’re wrong.
After suffering through 2 years of mediocrity and last place finishes, it’s going to be great to finally see some playoff baseball. We’re going to get to see our first glimpses of our young core known as the killer B’s (Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Benintendi) on the biggest stage. We’re going to see those who have thrived before (Ortiz, Pedroia, Koji ) continue to build on their already solid postseason résumés. And most importantly, David Ortiz’s final game will be in October. In the midst of this whirlwind of emotion, all you can do is take a step back and ask yourself, did Clay Buchholz actually just pitch well in a division clinching game? The answer is yes. Accept it, embrace it, and get ready for some postseason baseball. October is coming.