While the work is far from over for the Red Sox, Monday was a historic night for Boston.
With their 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox claimed their 106th victory of the season, the most in franchise history.
Furthermore, the Red Sox clinched the No. 1 seed in Major League Baseball with the victory, meaning they’ll have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Houston Astros’ magic number to win the American League West is three, and providing they finish the deal, the Red Sox will face the winner of the Wild Card game between the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series.
Though the goal obviously is making a deep postseason run, outfielder Mookie Betts and manager Alex Cora both expressed great joy in the accomplishment.
“We come out, we prepare every day, we come out and just take care of the task at hand,” Betts told Guerin Austin after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “From the beginning (we knew we had something special). AC told us from Day 1 that we’re a special group, we’ve got a great group of guys. We all love each other and we all play for each other.”
“Unreal,” Cora said. “We never talk about records or stuff like that, you just talk to them before the season to show up every day and play the game the right way. They’ve been doing it for a while, they’re very consistent in what they do, and we’re very proud of them.”
For what it’s worth, the three other winningest Red Sox teams all reached the World Series, with mostly favorable results. The 1912 team that won 105 games also won the World Series, the 1946 squad claimed 104 games but lost in the championship and the 1915 team that won 101 games won the World Series.
Here are some other notes from Monday’s Red Sox-Orioles game:
— Nathan Eovaldi is getting hot at just the right time.
The Sox right-hander tossed a solid outing Monday night, striking out 10 over five innings while allowing just one run on four hits, while not issuing a walk. Such an outing is the continuation of Eovaldi heating up down the stretch. The righty has allowed just one total run in his last two outings (11 innings), and in his last four games (three starts) he has a 1.50 ERA, surrendering three runs in 18 innings.
MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal suggested over the weekend that Eovaldi may be the Red Sox’s fourth starter in the postseason over Eduardo Rodriguez. Given the recent body of work, it is understandable that Cora would enlist his trust in the 29-year-old. His stuff has been electric lately, and things seem to have been trending upward since he did some work with Pedro Martinez earlier this month.
While it’s worth bearing in mind that Eovaldi started his Sox tenure hot before flaming out for a bit, he’s the hot hand at the moment and likely will have a big role in October, and deservingly so.
— Rodriguez got an opportunity out of the bullpen, and he looked mostly good. The southpaw allowed one hit over two innings of work with two strikeouts and no walks.
If Rodriguez is, indeed, the odd man out of the rotation, he likely still will have a nice role carved out for himself out of the bullpen this October. With so much uncertainty surrounding Red Sox relievers, the 25-year-old very well could see some high-leverage innings.
— Betts also seems to be finding peak form right as the postseason hits.
The Sox star clubbed his 32nd homer of the season Monday, and in his last 12 games he is hitting .422 with seven doubles, three dingers, nine RBIs and 14 runs scored.
— Brock Holt is making a compelling case to be the Red Sox’s second baseman this October.
Cora has submitted that he will play the best players in a given moment, and heading into October, Holt’s performance is far exceeding Kinsler’s. The utility man roped an RBI double in Monday’s win, which extended his hitting streak to eight games. In Holt’s last 11 games, he is hitting .444 (12-for-27) with six runs, two doubles three homers and nine RBIs. In his last 32 games he’s hitting .333.
Kinsler, meanwhile, is struggling mightily at the dish, hitting .165 with 13 strikeouts to his 12 hits. Though he was acquired with defense in mind, Holt’s defense has been plenty fine, and at this point it’s tough to keep his bat out of the lineup — especially when Kinsler is the alternative.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images