You know, it’s funny. I was told that the Red Sox couldn’t win low-scoring games. I was also told that they couldn’t win one-run games. Turns out, they just win every game. Huh.
Coming off back-to-back four-game sweeps of divisional opponents, the Red Sox packed their bags and headed on down to Tampa for yet another series against a divisional opponent. This time, it was the last place Tampa Bay Rays, but don’t let their position within the division standings fool you. Coming into last night, they were a game over .500 over their last 53 games at 27-26, which is the same or a similar record as several teams in the playoff picture over that span — the Astros (27-26), Blue Jays (26-25), Mets (28-26), Yankees (27-25), and Cardinals (27-25). Point being, beating this Rays team shouldn’t be considered a layup.
There’s a long list of things that I will miss about David Ortiz once he’s gone after this year, but watching him smoke tape measure shots off of whiney ass Chris Archer is pretty high up on that list. I’ll never forget this all-time classic with a bat-flip as the icing on the cake:
Ortiz’s two-run bomb represented the only runs that the Red Sox scored last night, but they were also all the runs that the Red Sox would need. It was officially measured at 411 feet, which is officially bullshit, because that thing hit a cat walk. And if it didn’t, we’re talking about 480 feet easy. The broadcasters were talking about how they haven’t seen a ball hit up that way even in batting practice. Reminds me of his home run at the Tokyo Dome back in 2004 that was measured at 514 feet.
That home run for Ortiz matches his total from a year ago (37), while his American League-leading 124 RBIs are the most he’s driven in since 2006 when he drove in 137, while also setting the Red Sox single season record with 54 home runs. Now that Ortiz has caught up to Edwin Encarnacion for the league lead in RBI, Ortiz leads the league in that category, as well as leading the majors in doubles (47), slugging percentage (.634), OPS (1.040), extra-base hits (85), isolated power (.315), and he’s second to only Mike Trout in wRC+ (167). Simply put, he’s having the best offensive season in the game in 2016, and his best season since his best season ever a decade ago.
Ortiz is the strongest offensive force in the game of baseball at the age of 40, but take out the age factor and the storybook ending narrative. He’s been the best hitter on the best team from the start of the season until the very end, including hitting .359 with an 1.160 OPS in the month of September, where his team is a major league best 16-5. Just based on his performance alone, he should be the MVP of the American League. Scratch that. It’s not he “should be” the MVP of the American League, he is the MVP of the American League, with or without the nod from the stat geek voters.
Drew Pomeranz finally got his first win in over a month, despite the fact that the Red Sox still refuse to score runs for the poor bastard. It looks like the Red Sox are limiting his innings at this point, indicating that he’ll be used out of the bullpen come October. Pomeranz was done after five innings, which looks like your prototypical Pomeranz start, but he only threw 78 pitches. I’m fine with that, since I like the idea of keeping everybody in the bullpen hot. Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara were unavailable last night, so Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross Jr., Matt Barnes, Robby Scott, and Brad Ziegler, who got the save, combined for four innings of shutout relief.
Updated numbers: Brad Ziegler, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Kimbrel, Robbie Ross Jr., Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Robbie Scott have combined to make 54 appearances in the month of September. They have a 0.00 ERA, 62 strikeouts in 47.2 innings, a 0.94 WHIP, and a mark of 11.71 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Red Sox have now won nine games in a row, their longest winning streak since the 2011 Red Sox won nine straight in June of that year. With the win, their magic number to clinch the American League East is down to four. The Indians won last night, so the Red Sox remain a half-game back of Cleveland, and a game back of Texas for the number one seed in the American League.
Final score: Red Sox 2, Rays 1