This excruciatingly underwhelming season for the Boston Red Sox comes down to this next week’s worth of baseball games. Or, at least it probably does.
It’s been a season filled with a high powered offense and pitching that just couldn’t pull their end of the bargain. It began with a shockingly bad season opener from their ace, Chris Sale, where he was tagged for 7 ER in 3.0 IP, and manager Alex Cora building expectation from the get-go in Spring Training.
Remember? Cora was unwilling to turn the page in a new philosophy that you don’t hear much about when dealing with a team fresh off of a championship run. Instead, he responded to these ideas by saying, “It’s a book and we wrote a chapter last year and let’s write a new chapter this year, but we can always go back … and learn from it.”
But now that we’re sitting here on September 3rd, it’s time for Cora’s team to drive through two of the MLB’s best as the New York Yankees, and the powerful Minnesota Twins come into town.
At the start of the day, the Red Sox sat 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot. If things were to wrap up today–and luckily for the Red Sox, they don’t–your reigning World Series champions who returned with a seemingly identical roster, minus a few essential pieces, would be headed out to Hawaii on an early vacation.
Right now, they look up to three teams in the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s.
Is a 5.5 game hole impossible to climb? No, absolutely not. But after tonight, being that there are just 24 games remaining for this team to do their version of 2018’s damage, the possibility of them landing a playoff berth looks bleak.
First things first though, they have to take care of the two gargantuan tasks at hand.
In 2018, the 100 win New York Yankees set the Major League record for home runs by a team in a single season with 267. A record that was held by the previous home run kings, the 1997 Seattle Mariners, for 21 years. They were a freight train at the plate that refused to keep the ball in the yard. But, that record didn’t stay pinned up on the wall for long, as the 2019 Minnesota Twins have already surpassed that number, and continue to add insult to injury for the next month.
The Twins come to Boston beginning on Tuesday night with the Red Sox sending Rick Porcello to the mound who, by the way, has given up 26 home runs of his own entering the night.
The two teams already faced off back in June where the Red Sox did take two of three in Minnesota. Frankly, Boston might need to take all three prior to the arrival of New York.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this. The Yankees have stepped on the throats of the Red Sox for a majority of the season. The longtime rivals have squared off 15 times in 2019. And Boston’s been on the losing end of those results 11 times, including their most recent bout where the Yankees swept the Red Sox in a four-game stretch in New York that was nothing short of exasperating.
And this weekend, although they have a Temperpedic-like comfortable lead in the American League East, I’d still expect the Yankees to come to town and make a strong attempt at finishing the job.
New York very well knows that depending on how the series with Minnesota goes, they could have a chance at seemingly ending Boston’s season. And the Red Sox know that too.
If someone told me back in Spring Training that the Red Sox would be put in a position that their season’s hopes could be brushed away during a mid-September series, I might not have believed it. While the team didn’t necessarily return with an identical roster from the 2018 postseason, they brought back enough to, if not win the AL East, come pretty damn near close. The fact that they sit 15.0 games back is jarring.
Was it the fact that they didn’t bring in a closer as so many pointed to early on in the year? One might have helped, but pinning the entire season on that one flaw is the result of not looking at the big picture. It was a whole slew of issues that caused Dave Dombrowski’s team to be where they are today. From starting pitching to the inconsistencies out of the bullpen, something just wouldn’t click.
The entire year could hang in the balance of these next seven games. Do they have to win all seven? It wouldn’t hurt, but that probably won’t be the case since they sit well below .500 against ballclub’s with winning records. But is it unfair to say that they have to take a bare minimum of five of them? That’s a number that could keep them from falling out of the hunt or even potentially aid them in gaining some ground.
Anything below that number though could be the white flag waving for the 2019 Red Sox.