After two consecutive last place finishes in 2014 and 2015, the Boston Red Sox rose up to have the best offense in Major League Baseball. It’s been fun watching this team hit so well and excite the city of Boston. Last night, they clinched the American League Eastern Division Championship for the first time since 2013. They have sowed up a playoff spot and avoid the Wild Card randomness and cap a great regular season. They celebrated in Yankee Stadium after securing the division.
So why was I not celebrating? Well, winning the division last night felt empty for a few reasons. Namely, we lost. Last night’s game in Yankee Stadium was eminently winnable, with an outstanding start from Clay Buccholz, and an offensive surge in the 8th that should have been enough for the bullpen to hold. It wasn’t though. Craig Kimbrel, the closer for the Red Sox and a representative at the All-Star game this year, was absolutely awful in the 9th. He walked three guys, gave up 1 hit, got no outs, and when Joe Kelly got tagged by Mark Texeira with a grand slam, surrendered four runs to lose the game for the Sox. The Red Sox had a game that they could have easily won against their arch rivals and they blew it. Regardless of winning the division, I don’t feel good about what I saw from my team last night.
Should I be happy that the Red Sox are in the postseason? Yes. Am I happy that I will get to watch Ortiz in the postseason one more time? Yes. Does that make up for blowing an eminently winnable game against the Yankees while there is still plenty to play for this week? Not only no, but hell no. The bullpen did not instill any confidence in me, and losing to the Yankees, especially in walk off fashion, is always gut wrenching. And what’s left to play for? Home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Right now, the Red Sox are the second seed in the playoffs. They would have home field for the Division Series and the World Series sown up if they make it that far. Here’s my concern: the American League Championship Series. Boston is best at home this season and they’d be in the best position to win the championship if they had home field advantage in that series. Here’s the problem: Texas has the best record in the A.L. and I don’t like the matchup against Texas. They’re 3-3 against them this season and didn’t look good in Arlington when they traveled there earlier this season. Every loss makes the chance for best record less likely and that worries me, especially with the bullpen’s importance to every team and the Sox bullpen coming up smaller than mini me frequently this season. They are 20-22 in one run games in the postseason, where close and low scoring games are more frequent, that stat is alarming.
Am I worrying too much? Probably. Do I have cause for concern after last night? Yes. Do I desperately want David Ortiz to go out with a championship? Without question. Have I enjoyed this season? Yes! It has been so much more fun than the last two years and I love being a Red Sox fan right now. But am I happy after clinching the division? No. There is still plenty of baseball left to play and too much up in the air to celebrate after a night like that. This isn’t the Red Sox of the past, when just winning enough to get into the postseason was acceptable. Winning championships is the ultimate goal, and the Red Sox have a long way to go before they can win the championship.