After coming off of a very underwhelming season last year, the Red Sox have bounced back big time. Now they are one series away from advancing to another World Series after beating divisional rivals the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Red Sox’ first half of the season was very strong. Led by J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Xaender Bogaerts, the Red Sox dominated on offense all season long. With them came also the emergence of Hunter Renfroe, who had a breakout season as well. At the end of July, the Red Sox acquired all-star Kyle Schwraber from the Washington Nationals who was having a breakout season.
The pitching during the first half of the season was excellent, especially by the bullpen led by all-star Matt Barnes. Also along with Barnes, Nathan Eovaldi, the Sox ace, made the all-star game as well.
Once August hit, everything for the Red Sox started to crumble. Thankfully in August, Chris Sale came back from injury. Sale was recovering from Tommy John surgery and was able to pitch crucial innings when their playoff hopes were in jeopardy.
Even though the Red Sox season ended in sub-par fashion, they were able to win the necessary games to hang onto a wild card spot by a game over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox started the postseason facing off against their archrival, the New York Yankees. The Red Sox were easily able to hold off the Yankees in the wildcard game thanks to a very strong five innings from Eovaldi. Big games from Schwarber, Verdugo and Bogaerts helped the team commandingly win 6-2 and secure a spot in the ALDS.
After losing the first game to the Tampa Bay Rays in the divisional round, the Red Sox were able to bounce back in dominant fashion in game two. They beat the Rays 14-6 thanks to a massive night for Enrique Hernandez and contributions from Devers, Martinez, Vasquez, Bogaerts and Verdugo. While Sale didn’t play well, getting pulled after just one inning, the bullpen made up for it by only allowing one run for the rest of the game.
Game three was much tighter than game two, but the Red Sox were able to win after going 13 innings, thanks to a questionable call and a walk off home run by Christian Vasquez to win 6-4. Schwarber continued his dominance by scoring two more runs and Hernandez scored again as well. Eovaldi had a solid night, though he gave up two runs and was pulled in the fifth, but the bullpen got it done again in extra innings to put the Red Sox up 2-1 in the series.
In game four, the Red Sox were once again able to win on a walk off. This time thanks to Hernandez hitting a fly ball, allowing pinch runner Danny Santana to score from third. Devers had three RBI’s in the game which was crucial in the 6-5 game. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched five innings, but similarly to Eovaldi he gave up two runs and was pulled in the fifth. Relief pitcher Ryan Brasier struggled and also gave up two runs, but Garrett Whitlock was able to keep it a tied game. This set the stage for Hernandez to drive in the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
With this win, the Red Sox moved on to face the Houston Astros in the ALCS for another chance to make it to the World Series. The last time these teams faced off in the playoffs was in 2018, when the Red Sox beat the Astros in five games to advance to the World Series.
Game one was not a great game for Sale, as he once again struggled and was pulled after 2.5 innings. Even with Hernadez having another great game, the Red Sox struggled after scoring three runs in the third. The Red Sox ended up falling to the Astros 5-4.
The Red Sox so far this postseason have looked like they did in the regular season: start off very hot but then have plenty of bad performances. They were able to recover from the mistakes and make it to the ALCS another time. The biggest question mark for them is whether or not the pitching core can hold up. That is going to be the difference between them winning another World Series or falling just short of one.