Since the trade deadline there has been much talk about the Red Sox being true contenders. Everyone has already seemed to buy into this team going deep into October and winning it all.
But being the contrarian that I am, the Red Sox needed to do more to truly prove themselves as a legit World Series Contender. And after watching them comeback from a 4-0 deficit capped off by a 2 out, bottom of the ninth walk off double by Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have shown me that they have what it takes to win in October.
Now the win against the Cardinals is not solely what changed my mind, because is all honesty the Cardinals lost that game more than the Red Sox won it. Molina makes that play 9 out of 10 times and Bradley should’ve been out by at least three feet. But the Red Sox have been on the record all season in saying that they are going to run the bases aggressively and force the defense to get them out. This time they did just that by putting the pressure on the Cardinals. In the end it paid off with a walk-off win.
But I digress, there has been so much drama surrounding this team all season. From the David Price incident, to their inability to replace David Ortiz’s production. Even the on field product has been fairly scrutinized: From their tendency to make stupid decisions and run into outs (cough, cough Nunez in Yankee Stadium Friday Night) and most concerning their incompetent manager who seems to be a ticking time bomb waiting to cost them a crucial playoff game. This team has some flaws that shouldn’t be glossed over, and they’re the reason that many have been fence riding the Red Sox the past three months.
In the month of July the Red Sox went 13-14, a .481 win percentage which is not the performance you’re expecting from a team vying for a title. The offense was in a major slump to say the least. They were unable to produce any power at all really and the clubhouse was starting to look like a real problem. Meanwhile, the Yankees were making major moves and looked like they were about to run away with the division.
On July 31st the Red Sox were a half game back in the division and the Yankees had three games in hand. Since the calendar has changed the Red Sox have done a complete 180 and are playing up to their potential. In the month of August the Red Sox have an outstanding record of 11-2 record and currently lead the Yankees by 4.5 games heading into a weekend series with them at Fenway.
The reason for this turnaround is largely due to the addition of Eduardo Nunez at the deadline and calling up Devers from the minor leagues. They have both been sparkplugs for the sluggish Red Sox offense. Nunez has been on a tear since coming to the Sox batting .372 with 4 homers and 13 RBIs, while Devers has turned more than a few heads with a batting average of .348 to go along with 6 homers and 13 RBIs, along with better than advertised defense.
Along with their newly rejuvenated offense the Red Sox have been able to stay this hot mainly due to the continued excellent performances from their pitching staff. The Red Sox have a 3.63 ERA as a team in the month of August, (Addison Reed has an 8.44) and there is nothing more important in the playoffs then pitching.
The level of competition has also been solid. They’ve beaten the Indians, Yankees, Rays, and now the Cardinals in a series during this run. Unlike last year they have been able to consistently come from behind leading the major leagues with 9 walk-off wins to last years 3. In 2016 the Indians lead the league in walk-offs and eventually made it to game 7 of the World Series, so the ability to battle back during the regular season is great experience for the playoffs.
An interesting side note is that during the Red Sox recent run, both David Price and Dustin Pedroia have been on the DL. Both were the major voices during the whole Price controversy early on in the season, and maybe its more than just a coincidence. The Red Sox may have been enlightened by their absence and now can just focus on winning.
The Red Sox have seemed to take an “us against the world” mentality tuning out the media and any negativity from the fans. It’s worked like a charm so far, but that will only take this team so far. The true question surrounds their managerial and base running flaws. Will it derail them? This team is way too talented and should be expecting (at a minimum) to be playing in the American League Championship series.