Sox Begin Postseason Chase
It’s October and there’s a chill in the air on Yawkey Way. Probably one of the many chills Red Sox fans have experienced recently from clinching a playoff berth to Big Papi’s send-off at Fenway. Bostonians know all too well the magic that comes with the chill October (i.e. the 2004 season), and Thursday begins the next step in that journey toward the ultimate goal.
The Red Sox are the American League East Division champs and are headed back to the postseason for the first time since 2013, when they also won the division title and the World Series. It wasn’t an easy path to the division title in what could arguably have been the toughest division in all of baseball. The Red Sox battled the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles the entire season. In the end, all three teams would make the postseason, but only Boston is guaranteed a five-game series. Toronto eliminated Baltimore on Wednesday.
The Red Sox saw a youth movement with the emergence of the ever popular outfield in Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradly Jr. Betts was a force to reckoned with co-leading the Sox with a .318 batting average (tied with Dustin Pedroia) while knocking in 113 runs and blasting 31 home runs.
You knew you could count on the veterans of this teams to step in: David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz, Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez were huge. But it was Betts who joined Big Papi and Ramirez as the only three players to have 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs for the Sox this season. Ramirez caught fire late belting 30 hits, 26 RBIs and 10 home runs in the month of September alone helping propel the Red Sox to the AL East crown.
Who will ever forget this season for Big Papi? The man had the best season in the history of baseball for a player in his 40s who is in their final season. He had his most hits in a season since 2005 and his most home runs and RBIs since the 2006 season. It’s only right that the man who has done so much for the city of Boston gets one more chance at a ring in his final season.
The Red Sox begin a best-of-five series with the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night in the American League Division Series. Boston will see a familiar face on Thursday as former Red Sox manager Terry Francona manages the Indians. Boston manager John Farrell has announced that right-hander Rick Porcello will get Game 1 start and David Price will start the second game. Price was signed for a hefty fee in the offseason and expected to be the team’s ace, but Porcello has been the better of the two finishing with a 22-4 record and a 3.15 ERA – a nice turnaround from his 2015 season.
The series features the top two offenses in the AL and promises to pack some firepower, but could come down to the pitching for the Sox. Two names in particular are Price and closer Craig Kimbrel. Price is 0-7 with a 5.28 ERA in eight career postseason starts. Not exactly what you would expect for $217 million dollars. Kimbrel kind of limped into the postseason, with the memories likely still fresh in fans’ minds of the closer walking six of the final 13 batters he faced. If the pitching can come together, this looks to be one of the most complete teams in the playoffs.
For those fans not lucky enough to get tickets to the playoffs or that would rather watch in the comfort of warmer temperatures, be sure to make the Battery Park Bar and Lounge on Batterymarch Street your playoff destination for all things Red Sox. Closer and much less crowded than bars around Fenway this time of year, the upscale sports bar features 16 different draft beers and numerous televisions, which make it a top downtown viewing destination.