BOSTON — The Red Sox are clicking at the perfect time.
After completing a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees with a 5-4 win Sunday, the Red Sox have a stronger hold on first place in the American League East. They’re three games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and four games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, and it’s greatly improved the mood in the clubhouse.
“Four-game series are difficult,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Sunday’s win. “To take all four and three of them in comeback fashion, that says so much about that team down in the clubhouse. There’s never any feeling of we’re out of it. There’s never any giving at-bats away. They do a great job.”
Sunday was one of those comeback wins, as the Red Sox scored five runs from the fifth inning on — including a pair of home runs from Hanley Ramirez. Winning close games has been difficult for the Red Sox this season, but something changed during their sweep of New York.
“I think we’re just battling games,” right fielder Mookie Betts said. “I think we’re just hitting singles, hitting doubles and whatnot, and kind of letting the hero role show up. Hanley’s been the guy for us the last couple days, and we’ve got to give credit to our pitchers, too. Kept them off the board. There were some late-game situations where they had some opportunities, and they were able to shut them down.”
There still are a lot of games to play, and the Red Sox certainly won’t be taking it easy. They have another four-game series in Baltimore next, followed by two three-game series on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees before returning home for their last three regular season games against the Blue Jays. The division really is still open, but the Red Sox enter this stretch with a lot of momentum and optimism.
“Everything’s coming together,” Ramirez said. “When we need a big play, we know it’s coming. When we need to create a big rally, we’ve been doing it. Everything’s coming together at the right time.”
Here are some more notes from Sunday’s win.
— Ramirez’s multi-homer performance was the 21st of his career and his third of the season. The first baseman has 28 long balls and 106 RBIs in 2016, bringing him close to joining Betts and David Ortiz with a 30-plus home run, 100-RBI season. Ramirez’s 58 RBIs since the All-Star break lead Major League Baseball.
— Betts has hit safely in 118 of the Red Sox’s 149 games, which is more than any other hitter this season.
— The bullpen has been a huge part of Boston’s success in September, as their 0.94 ERA this month is the lowest in the league. Red Sox relievers haven’t allowed a run in 13 of 16 games in September.
— Ramirez’s four home runs since Thursday tied the Red Sox’s record for most in a single series against the Yankees. The other guy? Manny Ramirez, who did it in 2006.
— The last time the Red Sox swept the Yankees in a four-game series was June of 1990.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images