The Red Sox kneecapped the Rays, 6-5, in the bottom of the ninth last night — another walkoff — and the ending of a series usually launches a 1,000 ships carrying annoying narratives. The big one from this one is that the Rays’ way of doing things, with their positionless pitching staff, essentially, was found out again. It’s hard to categorize a team that won 100 games a failure simply because it lost two coin flips in Games 3 and 4 that easily could have gone either way. It doesn’t mean anything. It also ignores the fact that Boston’s GM is a former Tampa exec.
Perhaps the scarier outcome from this, if you need to find something deeper, isn’t the Rays’ methods being found out but the Red Sox’s being affirmed. This is still the ownership that traded away Mookie Betts. It had to max out in every department to win 93 games, and 93 wins is rarely, if ever, going to win the division, which it didn’t this year. It probably won’t next year given the way the rest of the division is lining up. They didn’t really make any huge splash signing in the past two years while Fenway Sports Group could start selling tickets again to make up for whatever losses they conjured up from last season.
But 93 wins will likely get you into the Wild Card Game, and all it takes from there is a couple bounces and one or two surprising performances, and suddenly there’s an ALCS trip attached to it, and it looks like a massively successful season. The Red Sox will probably keep aiming for 90-93 wins because it’s easier — see cheaper — which certainly doesn’t match the resources at their disposal.
But Sox fans won’t care about that tonight, or probably for most of the winter. Nor do they need to really. And this is what all owners want, and why they’ll push for expanded playoffs in the new CBA. Because it can work.
You can put it in the time and money to win 100-105 games, and it can come undone for really no good reason. The Dodgers are on the brink themselves with their 106 wins, and all it took was Brandon Crawford channeling Spud Webb’s hops for one play.
And then an unnatural breeze in the ninth keeping Gavin Lux’s drive from even reaching the warning track.
And you thought the Red Sox were evil just on general principle.