Let's start off on a positive note.
The 2016 Boston Red Sox ARE American League East Champions.
There will be playoff baseball in Boston for the first time since the magical 2013 run.
We did not finish in last place again.
Unlike Mariano Rivera, or Derek Jeter: David Oritz' farewell tour final season will end in the postseason.
2016 American League East Champs.
Plus the Red Sox just had an 11 game winning streak, things are looking alright. But then the last two nights have happened. Two straight horrible losses to the Yankees. I know, I know baseball teams lose all the time, and they were due for a loss or two after such a hot streak, that's just law of averages. BUTTTTT the way the Red Sox have lost their last two games has really startled me as Red Sox fan. Especially with post season play beginning next week.
It sucks, I should be wicked happy. The Red Sox just won the division. Only the 3rd time they've done it since 1996. I mean I am souped about that, don't get me wrong. It is just one game but man was it horrible timing.
Unlike all the players celebrating last night, I'm not too ready to start going crazy about this team. Let's not forget all the flaws they have that people had been talking about all season. In a perfect microcosm of this season the Red Sox bullpen blew what should have been a great win. In peak pre 2004 fashion Kimbrel and Kelly found an all-time way to spoil a good time last night.
Side note, even though I'm heated at Kelly for being fake good, the biggest tease in pitching and giving up a walk off grand slam there's no denying this was a great tweet. A +.
At the same time though, I feel like Joe Kelly is using the unjust MURDER of a great Gorilla, and care taker, (who was just trying to protect a child) so he would not get heat from Sox fans for giving up a walk-off grand slam. Not cool bro. Don't use Harambe to cover your flaws.
Briefly, before talking about last night I have to address Tuesday's game. The Red Sox had to win that game. Yankees are out of it. You have your "ace" on the hill. You've won 11 straight. Magic Number is 1. You gotta have that killer instinct and end it all that night. Don't mess around, you never know what can happen, we all remember 2011.
You brought David Price here to win that game. He's supposed to be your ace. You didn't pay him 217 million dollars to be a #3 starter. I am actually a David Price guy. I don't hate his deal (yet) He's going to finish with an ERA just over 4 which is not something you want from your "ace" but he's really turned it on the second half of this season, despite his 6 earned run (including 3 BOMBS) performance Monday night. Maybe I'm upset because I was robbed of a chance to watch the Red Sox celebrate an AL East Title in person Monday night, but I'm really just worried about this team's pitching going into October. David Price has a track record of ending the season strong, then blowing it all in the playoffs, let's hope Tuesday was not a glimpse of things to come.
Last night Clay Buchholz started again and was fantastic. 6 shut out innings, only 1 hit allowed. Pretty much all you can ask for out of a guy like Clay. No Clay bashing from me here. Just look at what he did for the Sox last night. Makes me very curious of what his role will be come postseason. Do you ride the hot hand?
Clay sure did hold it down.
Craig Kimbrel did not.
Nope, the Red Sox All-Star closer decided to walk 3 batters, and give up a hit to another. 4 batters faces, 4 reached base. Aka he record 0 outs. Idk how much you know about baseball (I would think a decent amount if you took the time to read this) but that's not exactly what you want from your closer.
The big knock against Kimbrel all year has been how ineffective he is in non-save situations. So my big question is since the Red Sox (and Kimbrel) knew they had clinched the AL East before the game was over (since the Blue Jays lost) that they got a little too ahead of themselves? Win or lose they still were division champs, so they decided to lose I guess?
The knock against this team all year has been the bullpen. They have the hitting, and despite being held together with duct tape, they have the starting rotation (on paper) to compete in the post season. Everybody knew the bullpen had been TERRIBLE. There was a stretch in August where it felt like the Sox blew an 8th inning lead every night for like two straight weeks.
Ironically, in September the Sox bullpen was lights out. Literally. For the first 3 weeks of the month there was a combo of like 5 pitchers who had not allowed a run. Overall, I'd say our bullpen has pitched a lot better as of late, but come playoffs, against over 90+ win teams, it's going to be a rollercoaster.
Kimbrel scares the shit out of me in the playoffs. When he's on, he's really on. I mean he's had shades of who was in Atlanta this season. But when he's off....holy shit, buckle up, because it's going to be a bumpy ride. He always is trying to paint that outside third to opposing hitters, but when he can't, he just keeps trying, and he keeps missing. Then before you know it he's walking everybody. He doesn't go after guys and it drives me insane because he is so nasty.
That's pretty much what happened last night before he had to be pulled from the game before he even recorded an out. I can't stress enough how much that worries me. I do believe Kimbrel knew the Sox had already clinched the division and just wasn't in the game mentally. I mean that's been the biggest excuse for his ineffectiveness this season when pitching in non-save situations. That "the pressure wasn't there" and closers can't pitch in those situations. To me that's such fucking bull shit, it shouldn't matter, idc if I didn't play baseball, nothing is going to change my mind about that. Do your fucking job. 3-0 lead against the Yankees who going into the 9th only had 1 hit, win you are AL East Champs (even though you already were) and he just does nothing.
So Kimbrel gets yanked and Joe Kelly gets two outs. It was shaky, but they were outs. It's 3-1 and the Red Sox are 1 out away from a win and a legit celebration then this happens.
I don't think I've seen a pitch more down the middle in my entire life. Just back breaking. Worst part was I knew it was coming, I have zero faith in Kelly in that spot. Those damn Yankees, even when they're dead they still find a way to ruin shit for the Red Sox. But tbh as much as it sucks Kelly gave it up, I almost don't even blame him. I mean it was 3-0 with Kimbrel going in, the game should be over. I don't think he was truly expecting to go into this game. I place most of the blame on Kimbrel, if he just did what he's supposed to do, this never happens.
That grand slam is what lead to one of the strangest celebrations I've ever seen. What looked like a 3-0 win, turned into a 5-3 loss in the blink of an eye. Despite that they still clinched the division thanks to the Orioles coming back in the 9th to beat the Blue Jays. So it was champaign shower time.
Papi had one message after the game.
I guess if Papi says it then I'm cool with it. I just thought last night it was a really bad look by the Red Sox to start celebrating after that loss. I know the baseball season is a marathon not a sprint and they have accomplished a ton, just doesn't seem right to me to do that after a loss. It wasn't just a run of the mill L either. They gave up a walk off grand slam. Yes you made the playoffs and won the division, but the biggest weakness your team has was just broadcast in full display. Celebrating to me after that just doesn't seem right, it's like celebrating your anniversary with your spouse by getting divorced.
It started very subdued, like they wanted to party, but didn't wanna be the party starter, but once it started, it didn't stop. Shit was lit. That's not a player getting sprayed, it's the President of Baseball Operations.
Luckily, if the Red Sox are going to have another celebration it is going to have to be after a win.
Despite how upset I was about last night and most of what I said in this blog, I am happy we won the division, that's step one. I really hope this cast of characters can find a way to have Big Papi call it a career with ring #4.
I'll end with this...Let's Go Red Sox!!!!