Red Sox Report: Sox Clinch Playoff Spot, Look To Clinch East Tonight
This years version of the Boston Red Sox will be in the playoffs with a legitimate shot at a World Series title. Last night the Sox clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2009, when they lost to John Lackey’s Angels in the Division Series. The roster is very different from 2009 with the only holdovers from that playoff roster being Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester, Ortiz, and Buchholz. This years Red Sox are modeled after Pedroia, while employing character and grit with no attention on anything except winning baseball games. With either a win tonight or a Rays loss the Sox will clinch the division for the first time since 2007.
Winning the division is honestly something I thought was not in the cards before the season started for this team. I love how they proved me wrong and most experts wrong as well. The Blue Jays won the offseason which did not translate into winning in the season. The Yankees battled injuries from start to finish and never had a lineup that featured all of their projected starters. I saw the Red Sox being in the Wild Card hunt and they exceeded my expectations which now gives everyone a chance to reset and change their expectations. While most think the Tigers are the favorites to come out of the American League, I think the Red Sox not winning the Division Series would be seen as a disappointment and a Tigers and Red Sox ALCS would be one for the ages.
Clinching the East should be seen as a great accomplishment for this team after losing 93 games last season, now they have won 93 games this season, with eight games remaining. Now it is time to take care of business and get the best record in the league so they will draw the Wild Card winner and stay away from the Tigers in the first round. The Sox are 2.5 games ahead of Oakland for the best record. Oakland would play Detroit in the Division Series with the Sox drawing the Wild Card game winner whether it is Texas, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Cleveland or Kansas City. With extra rest and drawing the Wild Card team the Sox could be facing the second or third best pitcher of their opponents staff if they throw their ace just to get into the one game playoff and then their number two in the wild card game. This would give the Red Sox ample time to line up the pitching staff the way they want. Rumor is Lester in Game 1 with either Lackey or Buchholz in Game 2.
John Farrell and Ben Cherington have flown under the radar this season with no negative publicity in the clubhouse. Cherington hit on all free agents and now short team deals could be the model this offseason for many other teams trying to dig themselves out of a hole. Victorino, Napoli, Uehara, Drew, Gomes, Carp, Dempster, and Ross were all brought in this past offseason and have been a huge difference in the clubhouse and on the field. All eight of those players have been good for the clubhouse which seemed to be a problem the last few years with this team. The beards are becoming more than just a thing on the face of the players it is an image of the team with fans even embracing it. People make a big deal about chemistry in baseball and this team seems to have it. If not chemistry this team has character and a will to win ballgames. From the comebacks to the walk offs this team never quits and all the credit should go to Cherington for making the right moves. I questioned bringing in John Farrell at first because I thought familiarity would not be good for this team but Farrell is someone this team actually respects and values.
This years Sox have accomplished way more than many people thought they would. Let us hope we will be watching the beards playing through October.