The Red Sox Came All The Way Back In The Ninth Inning To Sweep The Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox

If you’re not thoroughly enjoying watching this Red Sox team, then you’re either not paying close enough attention to what they’ve been doing or you choose to live a miserable existence where you’re comfortable with allowing negativity to consume your life. If it’s the latter, then I can’t help you with that and may God have mercy on your soul. But if you’re just misinformed, then allow me to share with you that the Red Sox have now won 12 of their last 14 games, and appear to finally be hitting their stride with the way some of these games have ended.

Last night, the Red Sox entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 4-2. As we highlighted yesterday, Xander Bogaerts came into Tuesday’s game having been statistically the worst hitter in baseball over his previous 37 games, which accounted for nearly two months. He went 3-for-5 on Tuesday, and followed that up by launching his first home run since July 5 in the bottom of the ninth last night to make it a one-run game.

It’s going to be such a huge boost for this lineup if and when they can get Bogaerts going. He’s been bumped down to the sixth spot again, which was not ideal when John Farrell made that decision earlier in the year, but with Eduardo Nunez, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers all hitting as well as they have been lately, the sixth spot is where Bogaerts belongs until he’s back to being the Bogaerts of old. Since Bogaerts was removed from the three spot in the lineup on July 18, the third spot in Boston’s batting order has produced a .321 batting average and .944 OPS in 26 games.

With Bogaerts trending upwards, there’s another guy who’s crucial to this Red Sox lineup, and that would be Mookie Betts. Almost right around the same sample as we used for Bogaerts, over Mookie’s last 35 games coming into last night, he was hitting .222 with a .610 OPS. Out of the 176 players who qualify over that span, Betts’ OPS ranked 163rd. Also over that same span, you can find Bogaerts at 174 (.514 OPS), and Jackie Bradley Jr. at 172 (.572 OPS). For the last month and a half, the Killer B’s haven’t been killing much except for rallies.

That was, of course, until Bogaerts started this ninth inning rally with his seventh home run of the season, which set the stage for Betts to become the hero a few batters later. After a pair of walks put a couple of runners on with two outs for Mookie, the 2016 MVP runner-up put up one of the best at-bats by anybody on the team all year. He stayed away from a pair of two-strike sliders before ripping a two-run double to left field that scored Chris Young, who pinch ran for Mitch Moreland, and Bradley, who was nearly gunned down at the plate, but Yadier Molina was unable to hang on to the baseball, resulting in a walk-off win for the Red Sox.

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A lot has been made about the Red Sox and their aggressiveness on the basepaths this year. They’ve made 66 outs on the bases in 2017, while the other 29 MLB teams have averaged 37.7 outs on the bases. Farrell has tried to justify this by saying that it’s a net positive overall in terms of trying to take all of these extra bases at the risk of being thrown out. In that picture right there, Bradley is out by a mile. The ball is in Molina’s glove in that shot. The game still would’ve been tied, and for all we know, the Red Sox still go on to win this game anyway, but he was very out if that play had been executed properly.

HOWEVER, a play like this more or less justifies their aggressiveness. It’s a gamble. You can’t assume that every play will be perfectly executed, because they’re not. Sometimes you get thrown out, and other times the ball gets away and you walk it off in the bottom of the ninth. Of those 66 outs that the Red Sox have made on the bases, 25 of them have been at home. Nobody has made more outs on the bases than the Red Sox, and nobody has made more outs at home than the Red Sox. They got lucky this time.

For today, the team’s logic is justified in that you can’t always assume the out. More often than any other team, they’ve been wrong about that assumption. But that’s also the cost of having an offense that still has a lot of names that need to get going before you can confidently throw up that stop sign at third base, feeling optimistic that that run is going to score anyway. Despite how well they’ve played, there are still some bats that need to wake up and perform more consistently so that base-running risks like these don’t have to be taken as often as they have been.

Final score: Red Sox 5, Cardinals 4