*25 minute exhale*
I mean Jesus, Mary, AND Joseph. It's never easy. All year the Red Sox would build a seemingly insurmountable lead against the Rays and then they would promptly surmount it. Five runs isn't exactly a slaughter rule but the Rays were dead in the water. Wander Franco hits a two run bomb - fine. That's just what he does apparently. Be 20 years old and hit bombs every other at bat. Whatever. Six outs left, two run lead, that has to be enough. Ryan Brasier disagrees. Brasier has been NAILS since he rejoined this team, Cora leaned on him heavily down the stretch. He earned that spot. Three straight hits, every single batter ending up on second base is NOT the way I need to be watching playoff baseball. It's already so hard. Nevermind when the Rays are batting fucking Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth at the top of their order. I'm too old and grossly out of shape to be dealing with October stress like this.
It feels like there's too many things to hit on, I'm just going to go down the lineup because that's genuinely easier.
Kyle Schwarber was born to play in Boston. He was born to play in Chicago, too. I'm glad the Cubs got to experience his glory for as long as they did. His time in Boston better be the rest of his career.
Kiké Hernandez, the man with the most dangerous accent mark in sports, has arrived. He was always a character in Los Angeles. He was always a fan favorite. He spoke openly about just wanting a chance to be an every day guy, he got it, and now he's the best hitter in the postseason.
My youngest son Rafael Devers. Apparently he's hurt? It gets brought up every at bat and then he's staring at a ball soaring over the center field wall. I truly have no idea how injured he is right now but if he's going to keep swinging the bat like this maybe he should never be healthy again.
Xander's had a sneaky important postseason. From the homer against the Yankees to throwing out Judge at home to quietly putting up six hits this series. It feels like he's not playing great since everyone around him is scorching hot, but please, I'm begging you. Stop doubting Xander. Every time there's a murmur of negativity it is quickly proven to be the dumbest discourse in all of Boston sports.
Alex Verdugo is a playoff player. That's what he's built for. Yeah, he got thrown out at third tonight on a play that did not require tagging up. But he was an absolute monster this series and has felt ready for the moment every time he's been up.
Julio Daniel Martinez had another 2-for-4 night on the most swollen ankle in North America right now. A casual 7-for-15 on the series, a mammoth tank job, legged out a double, and they won every game he played. Feels like the old man is still important to this team winning baseball games. Who'da thunk it?
Hunter Renfroe benches 550 pounds and hits bombs. He didn't hit any bombs this series which as I'm sitting here feels like a good thing. No sense in having everybody go off at the same time. He hasn't even been bad - Renfroe has a hit in every playoff game thus far - but that tank job is waiting in the chamber and I, for one, am very excited to watch it happen. Also if you're complaining about him showing off his gun then you just don't get it. Yeah sometimes it would be nice for him to remember cut-off men are a thing that exist, but that's not his style. Show off the hose every opportunity so people don't forget.
Christian Motherfucking Vazquez. A blast over the Monster in Game 3. A single ripped through the left side of the infield to become the winning run in Game 4. He came up big against the Yankees in the ALDS in '18, and he decided to remind everyone he's no slouch in '21.
Christian Arroyo laid down a hell of a bunt. Just textbook. You cannot argue against that.
Eddie Aces. Five innings, six punch-outs, one earned. That's how you fucking strut into the offseason as a free agent. Have your agent argue your peripherals, have your giant, bulging nutsack argue the rest. Maybe his dick can sign the contract idk I haven't thought that far into this leave me alone.
Thank you, again, to the New York Yankees. Without them we would not have the weapon known as Garrett Whitlock. Kid has been on a starter's schedule coming out of the bullpen all season long, goes on the IL for the last week of the season, comes back for the playoffs and pitches consecutive nights: 3.1 innings of shutout ball. Completely shutting down the Rays' rally with Arozareńa on second base with no outs and Wander Franco digging in at the plate. For all the (deserved) talk the Rays rookies received throughout this series, Whitlock made perhaps the biggest difference in the biggest spot.
Now we wait. Likely for Houston, unless the Fightin' Chicago Cusacks can string together a couple more wins. And while I know I should be worried about either of those really good baseball teams, we just knocked off a better team. This isn't time to go back and erase the season the Rays just put together. That's a damn good baseball team that took every punch you threw and got right back in your face. This was some of the loudest I can recall Fenway Park in the post-Curse world and the Rays never stopped chipping away and getting back into these games. The Red Sox deserve a shit ton of credit for maintaining their composure and getting the job done.
There's plenty of reason to believe in this lineup and these pitchers against anybody. Especially with Alex Cora at the helm. This team is eight wins away from doing something very special. It wont be handed to them, it wont be easy at fucking all, but it's doable.
And, while they haven't accomplished shit yet, there's one guy a whole heap of people already owe a very loud apology to: