Advertisement

Red Sox Sweep The Blue Jays To Match The Largest Division Lead They've Had In The AL East All Year

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays

After the Red Sox were swept by the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend to cut their division lead down to 2.5 games over New York, you had Yankee fans (and bloggers) doing cartwheels over their inevitable division title, even though the Yankees have had five total days of no more than a half-game lead in the division since June 18. Expecting panic from the Red Sox side of things, here’s the blog that went out on Monday after getting swept:

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 12.04.00 PM

It was just a prank. Tried to warn you, but you went and got your hopes up anyway. That’s not on me; that’s on you. The Red Sox went on to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Yankees got swept by the Cleveland Indians, and Boston extended their division lead in the American League East to five and a half games, matching the largest lead that they’ve had in the division all year long.

Not only were the calls of “here come the Yankees” a little premature, but things are actually getting pretty tight in that Wild Card race now, too. In just a few days, the Yankees went from thinking that they were knocking on the door of the division to being as far away from first place as they’ve ever been, and now they’re clinging to a one-game lead for the top Wild Card spot over the Minnesota Twins with the Angels and Orioles breathing down their neck to bump them out of a Wild Card spot altogether. What a change of events!

Not that the Blue Jays are a measuring stick by any means this year, but good teams handle their business, and the Red Sox handled their business up there in Toronto. First with Drew Pomeranz, next with Chris Sale, and finally with Rick Porcello, which I would imagine is Boston’s postseason rotation in a best of five series. Not in that order, obviously. But as we get closer and closer to October, and David Price’s comeback continues to be dormant, it’s looking more and more like this is what Boston is going to be rolling with in the postseason. And I’m sure most of you won’t be complaining about that one bit.

Back in June, you might’ve complained about Porcello getting a postseason start, but what about now? Since the start of July, Porcello has made 11 starts and has a 3.55 ERA, which is the third best on the Red Sox staff behind Pomeranz (2.53) and Sale (2.76) over that span. In the series finale against Toronto, Porcello threw six and two thirds innings, allowing just one earned run on a solo shot to Raffy Lopez, while striking out seven. Statistically, that outing is in a three-way tie for Porcello’s fourth best outing of the year. Of the six starts where he’s had a game score of 63 or higher this season, four of them have been since the start of July.

Here we go again with Hanley Ramirez. And I don’t mean that in a bad way either, but Jesus Christ, man. Why does it always take a boot in the ass to get this guy going? Why isn’t $23 million enough? Why isn’t playing in front of some of the most passionate fans in professional sports enough? Why isn’t returning to where your professional career began enough? Why isn’t playing for a first place team enough? Why isn’t being the first hitter to take over at DH with the Boston Red Sox since your idol David Ortiz retired enough?

At the start of the series, John Farrell moved Hanley out of the cleanup spot, down to the seventh spot in the order. Over his previous 24 games prior to the demotion, Hanley had been hitting .194 with a .629 OPS with 27 strikeouts in 88 at-bats (30.6%). After getting moved to the seventh spot, Hanley’s hitting .417 with a 1.500 OPS, two home runs, two doubles and a couple runs driven in in three games. I understand that the shoulders are an issue for him, but he makes it really hard for me to buy that excuse when it seems like any time that he gets a little push from the outside to step his shit up, he can seemingly do it at the flip of a switch.

Hanley wasn’t the only Red Sox batter to hit a rocket in the series finale. Pinch hitting for Chris Young in the seventh inning, Mitch Moreland blasted a rocket to the moon. Jose Bautista didn’t even have to move. The two-run shot for Moreland gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead, but then they just continued to pile on after that. Moreland added two more RBI the following inning on a base hit, and he’s now hitting .347 with a 1.075 OPS, 7 doubles, 6 homers and 18 RBI in the month of August.

Advertisement

Now the Red Sox head back to the Bronx for a four-game series. Oddly enough, it’s the last time that these two teams will meet during the regular season. For New York, it’s a golden opportunity to attempt to get back into the division race that they’ve let slip away this week. And for the Red Sox, it’s a chance to show no mercy and put the dog down once and for all.

Final score: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 1