Heading into the final month of the season there was a real question of whether or not the Red Sox would be able to hold on to one of the two wildcard spots after leading the division for basically the entire first half. Heading into the final week of the season, there was a (semi)real question of whether the Red Sox would ever win another game.
Thankfully, we know the answer to the second question. Last night the Red Sox throttled the Orioles behind a wonderful Nathan Eovaldi performance, giving the Sox a desperately-needed victory. While it’s sort of six of one and a half a dozen of the other because they’re playing the Blue Jays, the Yankees lost too, which made it an extra nice night.
More than nice, it was a relief. On Tuesday night the Sox lost to the Orioles with Chris Sale on the mound, a sequence of words that should never appear. With Eovaldi getting hammered last time out by the Yanks, heading into last night there was, between Sale and Eovaldi, perhaps a growing anxiety about who would start a Wildcard Game should the Sox actually make it.
Then all Eovaldi did was go do the damn thing, not unlike Nick Pivetta did to the Yankees on Saturday, but obviously with a better result. And the point of this column as reflected in the headline is that it’s friggin’ rad that the Red Sox won. Holy smokes, is it great. It feels like a weight has been lifted, if only for a few hours, only the weight was resting on our collective neck, so it’s a very important few hours.
Now comes what should be the easy part, with another game against the Orioles with Pivetta on the mound, then three against the rebuilding Nationals and Juan Soto, who ought to walk about 15 times over the weekend. If he ever gets a pitch to hit it better be because he went to the batting cage and the batting cage operator didn’t get the memo not to pitch to him, or the Sox somehow smuggle him onto their own 40-man roster, which I highly endorse but I bet Chaim Bloom lacks the VISION to make happen.
FanGraphs now has the Sox at 75.4 percent to make the wild card game, behind the Yankees at 82.5 percent and ahead of the Blue Jays (22.9 percent) and surging Mariners (19.3 percent). Obviously that Blue Jays number could rise pretty quickly if they beat the Yankees tonight, because they’re only two games back of New York and one game back of the Sox. Every day presents a must-win game for just about everyone, as the de facto playoffs have begun.
The good news is that the Sox have the smoothest road to the playoffs, and with a little luck they won’t even have to hit said road, and could host a game at Fenway Park. But beggars can’t be choosers, and no matter how the Sox manage it, a playoff appearance in what was expected to be a bridge year would be a gift. If they can knock the Yankees out of the playoffs, that would be even better.
That’s getting ahead of ourselves, though. Baseball is a daily game, and every day presents a new agony or ecstasy, and to that end, I’m mostly just happy the Sox won last night. It was a good decision on their parts. They should choose to do so again, imho, for the rest of the year. Easier said than done? Probably. But it IS easy to say, so I’ve said it.