Sox get lesson in real playoff baseball from Astros



Oct. 21—BOSTON — Your grand slam-or-bust Boston Red Sox are on the wrong side of trouble.

Unfortunately, they believed what we — fans, media and the rest of the baseball world — were telling them, that those blowout, grand-slam-laden wins in Games 2 and 3 put them in a category rarely seen in postseason baseball before.

Yes, up there with ’27 Yankees.

It was euphoric and easy. Probably too easy.

Being up 2-1 felt more like 8-1 in a four-game series.

This 2021 team had an ex-utility guy, Kiké Hernandez, who morphed into “October” David Ortiz.

We were reminded by Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, who has the managerial edge in this series by the way, that if the Astros won Game 4 the series will be tied. A new series.

We weren’t having any of it. Dusty only played and managed in a combined 4,000-plus games.

Don’t you dare lecture us, the region that invented Duck Boat Parades, about winning.

Dusty was right. Those two blowout celebrations were just that, wins.

And once that wore off it was too late. The Red Sox realized playoff baseball is more like 2-1 and 4-3 than 9-5 and 12-3.

It was both disappointing and brutal. One win Tuesday or Wednesday and the Red Sox are in great position.

But the Red Sox basically had nothing. Other than Xander Bogaerts’ first inning 2-run homer on Tuesday the Sox offense was, unlike the fans, silent as a church mouse.

In fact, it was the Astros doing the blowout thing, breaking open a 2-2 game on Tuesday night with seven runs in the ninth inning and a 1-0 game with five runs in the sixth inning on Wednesday night.

Ironically, the starting pitchers from Game 2 through last night’s Game 5 did their jobs: All — Nate Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta and Chris Sale — went five innings plus of pitching admirably.

Here’s the good news. All is not lost.

Going to Houston might be a good thing, getting away from the noise here.

The Red Sox have all of their key relief pitchers available, and two starters — Eovaldi and Rodriguez — who have a history of carrying the team.

“We have our big guy going,” said Cora, referring to Eovaldi. “We have a day (off) to get our things together. We have to make some adjustments … Just like they did. They made adjustments at the plate.”

The Astros pitching hasn’t been “all-that,” at least in the starting position, until Game 5.

“(Framber Valdez) was special,” said Cora. “His sinker was nasty. Tip your cap to him. He was throwing it harder. He was tough. He gets a lot of credit.”

This Red Sox team is in a familiar position, just a few days after they were the toast of the towns. They are a loss away from going home.

That happened the last few days of the regular season, it happened in the regular season finale against the Nationals (trailing 5-1), and it happened against the Yankees in the Wild Card game.

Lose and go home.

This Red Sox team has had its ups and downs, some of which were a few months long. But now it’s time to Cowboy Up, if I may use that term.

Put the grand slams, as exciting as they may be, behind them. and just win or go home.

You can email Bill Burt at [email protected]


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