Defying the Odds: Can the Red Sox and Rangers Come Back?

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Rick Porcello (22) may win the AL Cy Young award in 2016, but his post-season pitching line certainly hasn’t reflected that. [fansided.com]

It was a great season to be a fan of the Texas Rangers or Boston Red Sox. Both teams displayed explosive offenses and pitching staffs with multiple ace pitchers. Both rolled into the post-season primed to go on competitive and far runs. And in a scenario few could have predicted, they have both flopped through their first two games and now find themselves up against the wall needing to sweep their opponents to move on. The odds are stacked against both teams. Can either of them defy the odds?

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Hamels (35) went 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA on the season, but was lit up by the potent Blue Jays offense on Friday. [www.shutdowninning.com]

The Rangers finished the regular season atop the AL standings with a 95-67 record, good enough to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. However, that home-field has not proved to be any advantage through two games against a potent Blue Jays team. Coming off an extra-innings walk-off against the Orioles in the win-or-go-home one game wild-card playoff Tuesday night, Toronto had momentum and just kept rolling in game one. Entering the third inning scoreless against the Ranger’s ace, Cole Hamels, the Jays started swinging and would not stop until they had posted five runs in the frame. The story of the game, however, was the pitching line by Marco Estrada, the Blue Jays pitcher, who went 8.1 innings while only allowing 4 hits and 1 run. Toronto went on to win by a dominating score of 10-1. The next day in game two, Toronto had more in store for the Rangers. In the second inning against Yu Darvish, Troy Tulowitzki hit one out of the park to give Toronto a 2-0 lead and behind 20 game winner J.A. Happ, Toronto would not look back. Texas may have been the pest AL team during the regular season, but their postseason prospects look bleak having squandered home-field advantage and having to win-out on the road; a though task for any team, especially one which has lost all momentum and truly has their backs against the wall. The next game is this Sunday, October 9th at 7:30 in Toronto, where the crowd will certainly give the Blue Jays a home-field advantage.

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Big Papi could perhaps be playing in his last post-season series. Will a loss really be the way he goes out? [wpri.com]

The situation for the Red Sox does not look much better. Despite going on an 11 game winning streak in September, only 4 games short of their 1946 club record, the team followed by losing 5 of their last 6 to lose home-field advantage and the second seed to the Indians, something they surely regret now. Still despite the pre-playoff slump, the Sox looked primed to take advantage of the Indian’s depleted pitching staff which has been without two of their best three pitchers while their ace and Cy Young contender, Corey Kluber, has been injured recently. Furthermore, the Red Sox offense lead the league in runs per game (5.38) and total runs scored (878). However, if nothing else, this series has so far proven why we actually play the games and predicting the outcome will never suffice. For despite the offensive expectations, the Cleveland rotation, bullpen, offense, and home-field has been far too much for the young Red Sox team to overcome. On a 79 degree October night in Ohio, the matchup was Cy Young hopeful, Rick Porcello, versus Trevor Bauer, the Indian’s de facto first game pitcher. This first matchup, however, looked nothing like a battle of aces. The ball was flying out of the ball park with each team hitting 3 homeruns on the game, all solo shots. The problem for Porcello was that all three homeruns were allowed in the third inning in which he squandered a lead given by his offense. Despite a late push, the Sox would not be able to come back and would fall 5-4. Throughout the baseball world, Friday’s game was seen as a must-win for the Red Sox. David Price, whom the Red Sox signed to the biggest deal in Boston baseball history, hoped to shake the postseason demons which have haunted him throughout his career for every team for which he has pitched. However, those problems would continue in the worst start of his Red Sox career, allowing 5 runs (including a 4 run 2nd inning) over 3.1 innings. Meanwhile, another former Cy Young award winner was dominating for the Indians, Kluber and the Cleveland bullpen combined to shutout the Sox and only allowed 3 hits, all singles. This game was beyond domination, it flat out embarrassed the Red Sox. The question now remains, is a comeback possible or is the series already finished. Unlike the Rangers series, there is reason for hope as the Sox are going home where they have been very good this season (47-34) and will finally get the home-field advantage which they have lacked in the first two games. The third game is on Sunday at 4:00 PM ET in Boston as Josh Tomlin faces Clay Buchholz. Is a Red Sox comeback likely? Maybe not. Is it possible? With this offense, without a doubt.

 


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