The Red Sox had so very little to win in these final days of the 2016 regular season, but boy, it sure would’ve been a lot less concerning if they hadn’t won so very little. After getting no-hit by Aaron Sanchez for six innings, the Red Sox could only get one run across against the Blue Jays, and have officially followed up their 11-game winning streak with a 1-5 stretch to end the year. And, yes, the ALDS will start in Cleveland.
So that’s the bad news. The Sox couldn’t do much at all against Sanchez and the Jays today, and if they hit into a few loud outs, that doesn’t change the fact that they were generally shut down by the young Jay who the Red Sox never seem to be capable of solving. Except Hanley Ramirez, who took him out of Fenway Park to break up the no-no. Hanley is good.
The rest? The rest were not. But that’s not really...atrocious. Sure, they’ll have to do better if they happen to meet these Jays in the ALCS. But Sanchez is a very good pitcher. He’s proved as much this season, putting peripherals behind the results he’d managed in 2014 and 2015, making good on his prospect reputation. This is what top pitchers on playoff teams are supposed to be capable of, generally speaking.
Still, the real succor for the Red Sox here is that they’ll have three days off to reset. And right now, this does kind of feel like a team that needs it. They haven’t been hitting, certain members of the bullpen seem to be slightly broken and others have been teetering on the edge. Perhaps Drew Pomeranz can help that—he did reasonably well in his debut relief outing today, though there was some hard contact from Toronto that went for naught—but the Sox would be at their best if guys like Kimbrel and Koji started pitching the way they had been earlier in September. Yes, Koji has kept runs off the board, but the contact has been louder, the strikeouts down, and he, too, has been infected by the walk bug.
Speaking of that walk bug: three in five innings of work for David Price today. Price did manage to knuckle down and hold the Jays to one run in five innings before being pulled with just 80 pitches on his arm, with the Red Sox presumably eyeing his ALDS start. But even if it wasn’t a disaster for him, he hasn’t looked like the guy we’ve mostly seen in the second half.
All told, this wasn’t a horrible performance from the Red Sox. A swinging bunt was arguably the difference in the end. The Sox have produced plenty of close losses which could have gone either way in this past week. There are some very real causes for concern in Craig Kimbrel and, to a lesser extent, the general walk trouble that seems to be going around a bit. But this will all be very easily forgotten if the Sox can just take down Trevor Bauer in Game 1, which will be the first truly important game the Sox have played in a fair while.