RECAP: Chris Sale gets shelled as #RedSox drop Game 1 to Astros 8-2.

After all the hype Chris Sale was getting, after he said he’s ready to throw his arm off, he goes out and throws a stinker. Did he have a case of bad nerves before his first ever postseason start? Perhaps, but that’s no excuse for a pitcher with the talent he has. In all honesty, I was expecting him and Justin Verlander to go head to head and both throw gems. Instead, neither pitcher was at their best, especially Sale. The lefty opened his outing by striking out George Springer. Great, I thought, right? Nope, because Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve proceeded to mash back to back solo shots and give the Astros an early two-run lead. He would settle down a bit after that by tossing two scoreless innings, but the game got away in the fourth. A Marwin Gonzalez 2 RBI double with two outs scored two more runs, which actually untied the game at that point. Next inning, after recording the first two outs via the K, Jose Altuve took Sale deep for the second team, inflating the lead to three runs. That should have been Sale’s last inning, but he was brought back out for the sixth, for some reason.

A leadoff double followed by a walk led to John Farrell going into the bullpen earlier than he probably wanted to, but Joe Kelly was called on to try and get out of the sixth. Instead, he did just the opposite by loading the bases and allowing two more runs to cross the plate on a Brian McCann single. He retired the side after that, and that made way for rookie Austin Maddox’s postseason debut. Personally, I thought this spot should have belonged to Brandon Workman, but I’m not the manager. He was greeted by Jose Altuve, who took the newcomer deep for his THIRD long ball of the game, joining the likes of Reggie Jackson, Adrian Beltre, and Babe Ruth to name a few, as the only players to do so in a postseason game. In any other circumstance, I would have loved watching this. Altuve is definitely one of my favorite players to watch, it’s just too bad he did this against the Red Sox. Almost forgot to mention this, but, Rick Porcello pitched in this game. Yeah, 2016 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello pitched the ninth inning of a 8-2 game his team was losing in. That is quite the downfall from grace.

On the other side of things, this game could not have started in a worst fashion. I’m not talking about Chris Sale, I’m talking about Eduardo Nunez. From all the reports this past week, it looked like Eduardo Nunez was going to be healthy enough to play in this series, thus he was put in at DH for Game 1. Well, he could not even run out a ground ball, and he was taken out of the game. See below:

That was ultimately a sign of what was to come for the Red Sox, and it was not good. The lone positive from this game is from when they tied things up at two in the fourth. Sandy Leon drove in the first run in the second on an RBI single, and Rafael Devers drove in the second run on a sac fly to right, scoring Mitch Moreland from third. That was all the scoring they could do, and that’s not going to get it done against a team as good as the Astros.

Drew Pomeranz gets the start tomorrow, and it really is do or die this early. If the Red Sox can win and head home with a split, I’ll take it. But, if they drop Game 2, the series is essentially over. I believe in Pomeranz too, which is the crazy part. Offense needs to sep it up too, which could be tough against Dallas Keuchel.

0 down, 11 to go. 

What I expect from the #RedSox in the ALDS.

With the regular season in the books, the Red Sox will head to Houston to kick off a five game series against the Astros on Thursday. With that in mind, I thought I’d give a preview of the series and what I expect from the Red Sox in the postseason.

Game 1: Thursday, 4:08 PM ET, Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander

For the first time in his career, Chris Sale will be making a postseason start. And despite not having any experience, I have total trust in him. It’s hard not to when you record 308 strikeouts in a single season. He will be matched up against another horse, and one with playoff experience in Justin Verlander. Since being acquired by the Astros on September 1st, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner has been outstanding. Posting a 1.05 ERA in 34 innings with the Astros, it’s looking like a Game 1 pitching duel.

Game 2: Friday, 2:05 PM ET, Drew Pomeranz vs. Dallas Keuchel.

Back in April, I never could have seen this coming. The 2015 Cy Young Award Winner going up against DREW POMERANZ in a playoff game? No way. Give me Price or Porcello is what I would have said, but not anymore. Pomeranz just completed the best regular season of his career. The numbers may not agree, but if you do what he did in the American League East, that’s a great year. This will be his first career start in the playoffs, coming off of a 2016 postseason where he allowed two earned runs in less than four innings pitched in two appearances. The way I view Pomeranz has totally changed as this season has progressed, from chump to second best starter in this rotation. He’ll be matched up against Dallas Keuchel, who last pitched in the postseason in 2015 and owns a 2.57 ERA in playoff action. Not as shiny as the Sale-Verlander matchup, but still, there is potential here.

Only the first two games’ starters have been announced, but I have a pretty good idea of who we will see from both sides. It depends on the situation, but I expect Eduardo Rodriguez to pitch Game 3, Doug Fister to pitch Game 4, and Chris Sale Game 5, if it is necessary. The key to all this is David Price. He could start, but I like him much more as a weapon out of the bullpen. What he’s done since returning from the DL has been extraordinary, and he has experience doing this in the postseason. I don’t expect him to be Andrew Miller or anything, but I think he could silence a lot of critics in this series.

Offensively, the Astros have the advantage. Correa, Springer, and Altuve is something the Red Sox cannot compete with. Guys like Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia need to step up. Rafael Devers will be stepping into a unique situation. I’m not positive, but he has to be the youngest player on any team’s postseason roster. I’m also excited to see what a healthy Eduardo Nunez can do for this team and where he’ll be plugged in the lineup and on the field.

It’s never easy, and advancing to the ALCS will certainly be a challenge for this Red Sox team. As expected, the Astros are favorites in this best of five series, but never tell me the odds. Chris Sale is here to play, David Price is here to play, and Mookie Betts is here to play. The Astros may very well win this series, but let’s see if the Red Sox can challenge them.

Well, that’s all I got for now. The series doesn’t start for another few days so this could be updated. Until then, enjoy the Wild Card games.

RECAP: #RedSox end regular season with a 4-3 loss, will face Houston later this week.

After a Saturday night full of celebration, the Red Sox took the field for one last regular season game on Sunday. The lineup did not look great on paper, as was expected. In fact, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rafael Devers were the only everyday players to play, not including Christian Vazquez. Hector Velazquez got the start, and though his leash was not long he still performed well. Four innings of shutout baseball, three hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. He’s probably not going to see any action in the postseason, but I expect Velazquez to be fighting for a spot on the 25-man roster come February.

We saw the good and bad from the bullpen today. Robby Scott, Matt Barnes, and Joe Kelly all looked good, while Fernando Abad and Brandon Workman were key contributers to the Astros’ four run rally in the seventh. It depends on how many relievers they carry, but I can’t see the Red Sox wasting a playoff roster spot on Abad, he’s been an end of the ‘pen guy all year and has rarely pitched in high leverage situations. As for Workman, I think John Farrell likes him too much not to include him.

Rafael Devers was the star offensively, as the young third baseman drove in the first two runs for the Sox while also scoring the third. That all came in the fourth, and the Red Sox bats could not do much after that. We also saw guys like Rajai Davis, Brock Holt, Chris Young, and Deven Marrero all get the chance to prove themselves. If I had to choose two of them, I think I’d have to go with Davis and Marrero, depending on the health of Eduardo Nunez. Davis provides speed off the bench while Marrero provides great defense late in games (looking at you, Rafael.) I know Young can bring some power and Holt can play anywhere, but with the way the Red Sox have played this season, I think speed and defense are your best options.

As for season totals, Chris Sale led the club with K’s (308), IP (214.1), BAA (.208), WHIP (0.97), ERA (2.90), and W’s (17). All that, and he still won’t win the Cy Young. Sad!

Offensively, Mookie Betts led the Red Sox in nearly every important category except AVG and OBP. 166 H, 24 HR, 102 RBI, .459 SLG, and a .803 OPS to name a few. All this in a down year for the right fielder. If he figures a few things out, he could be back in that MVP form he had in 2016 in no time.

Also, shout out to Craig Kimbrel. Unreal year for the best closer in baseball. Career best 126 K’s for Dirty Craig, love to see it.

Red Sox kick off a best of five game series against these Astros in Houston on Thursday. Chris Sale will get the start, and I’m sure the Red Sox will be getting Verlander or Kuechel to start this ALDS.

Should be interesting, time to go on a World Series run.

93 down, 0 to go. 

RECAP: #REDSOX ARE DIVISION CHAMPS FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW.

For the second straight season, the Red Sox are champions of the American League East. That has never been done before in franchise history. Well, it did, but divisions didn’t even exist when it happened more than 100 years ago.

Drew Pomeranz capped off his great season by pitching six plus innings of one run ball. The lefty really limited the Astros, as he only allowed five baserunners to reach over that span. He finishes the regular season with an ERA of 3.32, the best it’s been since he was traded to Boston last season. In relief of Pomeranz, the bullpen had a few shaky moments. Carson Smith failed to record an out after coming on in the seventh while allowing a run. This made way for David Price to pitch for the second time in less than 24 hours, and he was NAILS. Got the first two outs with some help for Brock Holt, walked Tyler White to load the bases, then proceeded to strike out George Springer in a key situation. So, since September 27th, Price has pitched four innings, faced thirteen batters, and struck out SEVEN of them. He’s ready, I’m ready, it’s going to be electric watching him come out of the pen next week. Addison Reed came on to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Craig Kimbrel served up a solo shot to Brian McCann in an otherwise perfect inning, not statistically, he just closed the door on the division.

Offensively, the Red Sox never trailed in this game. Hanley Ramirez got the scoring started in the fourth and they never looked back. Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Mookie Betts all contributed as well. Benny joined the 20/20 club with a stolen base in the fifth, and Mookie blasted his 24th and final regular season home run of the year in the seventh, and that pretty much secured the W by upping the lead to four runs.

Xander Bogaerts is looking like his true self leading off, and Hanley might be coming out of his month-long slump too.

I’m having a great time watching these guys celebrate, and it feels a whole lot more satisfying than it did last year. Tomorrow’s game really doesn’t matter, as the Red Sox will head to Houston to start a five-game ALDS on Thursday night. Chris Sale will get the ball after getting nine days off. There will be plenty of eyes on Sale, who has never pitched in the playoffs before, but I’m not worried. A maniac like Sale will surely pump it up once he takes that mound in Houston.

There’s still one more regular season game to be played, and I’m positive none of the regulars will play long or maybe at all. Everyone’s ready for real October baseball to start. It’s not going to be easy, it never is. For now though, I’m chilling.

93 down, 1 to go.

Let’s hand out some #RedSox regular season awards.

I’ll be honest, last night’s game doesn’t seem blogworthy. The Red Sox got blown out by the Astros and there were essentially no positives to take away. Mitch Moreland hit his 22nd home run of the season and Xander Bogaerts drove in his 62nd RBI of the season in the second inning. Those were the only runs scored on one side, while the other scored TWELVE times. Eduardo Rodriguez was awful, the bullpen wasn’t much better, and the Red Sox lost an ugly one. That marks three losses over the past four days, but the magic number is down to one and the Yankees play a 1:00 game today. So, the Red Sox could be division champions before they even take the field tonight.

Okay, I guess I couldn’t resist recapping the game in some way, now let’s move ahead to something more positive: regular season awards. There were a good amount of disappointing performances this season, but still a lot of positives can be taken away. We’ll start with Most Valuable Player, of course.

MVP: Chris Sale

Pretty obvious choice here. The Red Sox are not where they are now if you take Chris Sale out of the picture.

Best season at the plate: Mookie Betts

Not as good as 2016 where he finished his second in MVP voting, but still a solid year for the right fielder. Another season with 20+ home runs and 100+ RBIs.

Most disappointing season at the plate: Hanley Ramirez

Coming off maybe his best year ever, Hanley was beyond disappointing. OBP has been below .400 all year, power numbers are down, has not been a good DH.

Most improved pitcher: Drew Pomeranz

Even with his last start, Pomeranz has been one of the best pitchers in the American League since that start he made in Oakland back in May. I never would have thought Pomeranz would be #2 behind Sale in any rotation, but here we are.

Most disappointing on the mound: Rick Porcello

Coming off a Cy Young Award winning campaign, Porcello failed to live up to any lofty expectations put on him. There were great starts sprinkled in there, and I still felt confident in him, but he just didn’t have it this year.

Most improved at the plate: Christian Vazquez

What a year for Vazqy. Hit that walk off home run against the Indians, has pretty much taken over the starting catcher role, and he gets hits in bunches. BA, OBP, SLG, and OPS are at the best they’ve ever been for the 27 year-old, and it’s too bad he doesn’t enough AB’s to register for the Silver Slugger because he deserves serious consideration.

Best newcomer: Eduardo Nunez

He hasn’t played a lot recently because of knee issues, but he was quite the spark plug when he came over from San Francisco in July. If this team wants to have any success in the postseason, I think they need him in the lineup everyday.

Best out of the ‘pen: Craig Kimbrel

No explanation needed given how dominant he has been this season.

Rookie of the year: Andrew Benintendi

If it weren’t for Aaron Judge, Benny would win AL ROY. For now, he’ll have to take team ROY as consolation. 20 Home runs and hopefully 90 RBIs in your first full season is quite the feat. And he also plays a tough position in his home ballpark. The best is yet to come, but I was really impressed with the way Benintendi played this year.

That does it for the awards. If you think I missed anything let me know.

Twitter.com/brendan_camp

 

 

RECAP: Home runs from Ramirez, Bogaerts and Moreland lift #RedSox to 10-7 win over Blue Jays in season series finale.

The Red Sox silenced a lot of doubters last night. Coming into this one losing the previous two, people were wondering if the Yankees could catch up in the division race. Well, with this win, the Red Sox magic number is down to two with four games left so I’d say that’s off the table. For the third night in a row, the starting pitching was far from what was expected. Maybe not with Rick Porcello, but I was definitely expecting more out of Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale this week. Porcello looked like he has for most of this season, getting hit hard and serving up some home runs. With the two he gave up last night, Porcello tied Tim Wakefield for most home runs given up in a season with 38. In the five and two-thirds innings he pitched, the Blue Jays got him for five runs on seven hits and two walks while also striking out eight times. Similar to Sale, the K’s were there for Porcello, but the results were not. Before the Red Sox had even taken their first at bats they were already trailing by three runs. Jose Bautista took the righty deep in the first, while Darwin Barney did so in the fourth inning. That may have been the last time Jose Bautista plays at Fenway Park, and if it is, what a way to go out at a place he loved over his career.

After that home run to Barney, Porcello was solid, retiring five of the next seven batters he faced until being lifted for David Price with two outs in the sixth. Making his third appearance out of the bullpen, Price was dominant, striking out three of the four batters he faced. I hate to say it, but I really like this version of David Price. I think that he just doesn’t give a shit about what fans think about him anymore. Like they said on the latest episode of the Section 10 Podcast, he’s gone full heel and I kind of love him.

Addison Reed bounced back with a scoreless eighth, and Brandon Workman ended the game, but not before allowing a two-run home run to Teoscar Hernandez. Not having to face Hernandez along with Josh Donaldson is a relief, as the two combined to hit SIX home runs over the past three games. Also, that’s the third straight game the Red Sox bullpen has allowed runs to score. Like I’ve been saying, I’m not too concerned but it’s something to pay attention to.

Offensively, the bats did something they usually do not do, and that’s doing damage against Marco Estrada. Hanley Ramirez got the scoring started in the first, driving in Andrew Benintendi from first on an RBI double. Three more runs crossed the plate in the second thanks to Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Dustin Pedroia. The third inning is where the game got away from the Blue Jays. Hanley led off the inning with a 451 foot bomb onto Lansdowne Street, and that was followed by three of the next four reached, including a Rajai Davis RBI single.

Xander Bogaerts decided to try and one-up Hanley by mashing his tenth home run of the season, another one that landed in the Monster seats.

Speaking of Bogaerts, the shortstop has now reached base in six straight games, and eight of the past nine games. This season has definitely been a disappointment, I’m sure Xander will tell you that himself, but he has the chance to end it on a positive note if he can play the way he has recently and bring that into the postseason.

Last not but least, we had Mitchy Four Bags blasting his 21st home run of the season in the seventh inning. Can’t find any video, but it was a good one.

Eduardo Rodriguez welcomes the Houston Astros into town later on tonight, and I am PUMPED. The Red Sox have the third seed all but locked up, that’s fine. What’s not fine is how the Astros and Indians are only separated by one game in the overall standings, that’s not fine. The last thing I want is to face the Indians in the ALDS, I want nothing to do with that team until a potential ALCS, let them stomp on the Yankees or Twins, please.

92nd win of the season, I’ll leave you all with this:

RECAP: Chris Sale, #RedSox bullpen surrender nine runs as division lead shrinks.

Remember that great road trip the Red Sox just had in Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cincinnati? The one where they won 8 out of 9 and 6 in a row? Well, they have looked like a different team since returning to Fenway Park on Monday. Drew Pomeranz looked bad in the first game and the ace was not much better last night. Chris Sale got the start in this one, and I really hope this was his last start of the regular season. The strikeouts were there, but so were the home runs. Yup, the Blue Jays took Sale deep FOUR times. The lefty simply did not have it going on as he usually does against Toronto. He pitched five full innings, allowing eight hits, five runs, two walks, and eight strikeouts. Josh Donaldson greeted him with a solo shot in the first, then hit another one in the third. Dude is just unreal back in his MVP form. He’s going to be 32 by Opening Day next season, but there are not too many third baseman that can do what Donaldson can. He wasn’t the only player to go deep twice though, as outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, former Astros prospect, hit his sixth and seventh home runs of the season as well. Sandwiched in between those two was Kendrys Morales’ two-run blast in the fifth. Like I said, four of those belong to Sale, but the bullpen gave up runs for the second night in a row. Matt Barnes pitched a scoreless sixth while Joe Kelly and Heath Hembree surrendered four runs in a combined two innings of work. Hector Velazquez made his first appearance in three weeks and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, but the game was already out of reach. With all the talk about how great this bullpen is, we’ve seen Addison Reed and Joe Kelly, arguably the two most important guys not named Craig Kimbrel, give up runs in consecutive nights.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox offense did not fare well against Blue Jays veteran JA Happ. One run and four hits is all they could get off of the lefty and they also whiffed nine times. Chris Young tied the game in the first with an RBI double, but that’s all the bats could do until the eighth inning. Having just gone down by eight runs, it looked like this one was out of reach. Sandy Leon led the inning off with his seventh home run of the year, and that was followed by a Rajai Davis RBI double. Next man up, Hanley Ramirez, shrunk the deficit to five runs with his two-out RBI single, but the lineup could do no more.

Having lost the first two games of the series, this will mark the first time since September 3rd that the Red Sox have failed to win a series. With each team having five games remaining, the Yankees trail the Red Sox in the division by three games. In order to give the division away, the Red Sox would have to lose four of their next five games while the Yankees win all five. If both teams finish with the same record, a play-in game will be hosted by the Yankees to determine who faces the Astros in the ALDS and who faces Minnesota in the Wild Card game. If the Red Sox do blow this three game lead, and Chris Sale had to pitch in the Wild Card game, that is a very bad scenario. Yeah, the one game thing is exciting, but it would be very hard to watch if my team was in it. One mistake and the season is over. I know the ALDS has a tendency to go quick, but at least you have multiple chances.

Anyway…Rick Porcello gets the ball tonight against Marco Estrada, hopefully the Red Sox can salvage something from this series with a win tonight.

91 down, 3 to go.